HDPE vs. Wood: What is the Best Decking Material?

Before you decide between HDPE lumber and wood, you should first understand the nature of the job you want these two materials to fulfill. Decking materials spend most of their time outdoors, which means that they need to be resistant to heat, moisture, and harsh weather. HDPE and wood possess such durable quality to some extent, but what makes one material better than the other? This is when you need to delve into the specifics.

Wood is a natural and versatile material that is quite easy to obtain. Depending on the type of tree from which it was harvested, wood can boast excellent strength and durability over other decking materials. What’s more, wood also has a unique, rustic appeal that makes it an attractive choice to many people. Unfortunately, wood requires periodic sealing to prevent water damage and to ward off harmful pests like termites.

On the other hand, HDPE, or High Density Polyethylene, is a synthetic material that is designed to be as robust and maintenance-free as possible. This gives it longevity that can go beyond the service life of wood. Depending on the manufacturer, HDPE can come in various designs and colors, allowing it to cater to the tastes and styles of more people. That said, HDPE is more expensive and may require stress checks from time to time.


Using Plastic Wood beyond Property Improvement

Plastic wood, a material composed mostly of recycled HDPE plastic and designed to mimic the look and feel of natural wood, is commonly used in building decks, fences, gazebos and benches. Long-lasting, sturdy, and easy to customize, it is one of the leading materials used for outdoor home improvement. But did you know that you can also use it when building other things?


Plastic wood is not a new concept, although in the past it had its limits in terms of customization. However, thanks to the continued innovations of manufacturers in the home improvement sector, plastic wood can now be used as a wood substitute for other types of structures, namely bird feeders, picnic tables, folding chairs, jungle gyms, docks, posts, speed bumps, marinas, and many others.


Designed to function similar to wood but without the risk of rotting and getting mold and mildew, plastic wood is a great material. Any furniture or structure built with it will match the aesthetic appeal of real wood yet will last longer.


While easy to use in almost any project, one should be aware that there is a variety of plastic wood materials available on the market. Before stocking up on the material, custom builders and furniture manufacturers are recommended to consult with a premier supplier so that they get the exact type of plastic wood that is best suited for the projects or products they are working on.

Preserving the Environment Using HDPE Lumber

When it comes to improving any property, building or rebuilding the outdoor living space is one of the most common improvements done. Decks, fences, and pergolas are usually added to the backyard. Traditionally, these types of improvements are built using wood that would match the design or style of the property.

Natural wood, however, requires constant maintenance because it is susceptible to rotting and molding, and can crack and fade with extensive exposure to sunlight, rain, snow, and the changing weather. So despite wood’s aesthetical advantages, it simply cannot last for years while sustaining its look and function. This leads to the need to periodically replace certain areas of the property made with wood to maintain the living space.

Fortunately, thanks to advances in technology, specifically with regard to HDPE lumber, using wood on properties can now be cost-efficient. Sporting the look and feel of natural wood, HDPE lumber can help homeowners build additional living spaces made entirely from wood, without worrying about rotting, molding and even fading wood.

Labeled as #2 plastic, HDPE is one of the most commonly used plastics in the country. Found in plastic bottles, milk jugs, and refillable plastic bottles, recycled HDPE is the major component of HDPE lumber. So when an owner chooses to use this material to improve the outdoor living space, he is doing the environment a favor by using materials made from recycled plastic, and minimizing the use of natural wood.

Tips on Caring for Composite Decking

Wood decks remain stylish and elegant additions to homes, just as they have over the years. Today, though, you can still have the beauty of wooden decking without having to keep up with the high maintenance needs of the material by using composite or plastic wood. Nevertheless, plastic lumber still requires some amount of care and attention to truly last a lifetime.

Sweep and Wash

Regularly sweep leaves, twigs, animal droppings and other debris off your deck (you might want to use a leaf blower if the debris is piling up high). Then, use a garden hose to rinse it efficiently, making sure you don’t allow puddles to form and become stagnant. Over time, water puddles can and will ruin your decking.

Equipment Cleaning

Hire a pressure washing company who can get rid of any paint or grease stains on your decking. While you can rent your own pressure washer, you might not be able to control the equipment enough to keep from damaging the composite or plastic wood.

Removable Stains

When the stains aren’t bad enough to warrant power washing, you could do it yourself by following a few standard cleaning measures. For instance, when it comes to wine or berry stains, mix a ¼ cup of bleach in a cup of warm water and apply to the stained area using a soft bristled brush.

Building Your Own Private Dock

If you enjoy the sea and have a nice boat to boot, you will eventually want to consider building a dock on the coast for convenience. You may see it as a chance to not pay rental and service fees at the marina if you are committed to maintaining the vessel. Still, there are a number of pitfalls you need to hurdle to ensure that the dock you build is sturdy and handles your kind of water craft.

First, you need to have an extensive raft of documentation to properly keep track of the project as it takes shape. The papers include diagrams of the project, separate lists for the budget, materials, and tools, and a projected completion time, as well as compliance documents with the authorities. A consultation with a reputable contractor will help put things in order for you, as well as iron out discrepancies you may have overlooked.

Wood is a common material in dock construction, but the wrong kind of wood will render it at the mercy of the elements. However, HDPE lumber products are emerging as suitable alternatives for dock materials. If built to well above regulations, your own HDPE lumber dock will become a good place to spend some private time while taking the opportunity to breathe cool ocean air.