What is the right decision? Wood or Composite? What is more green?
Wood is a renewable resource that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as the tree grows and locks it away until wood decays or is burned. Wood can last many years but it does weather and requires application of stains and sealers (and how green is this?). Wood is susceptible to dry rot, termites, splintering and cracking. When a wood deck is demolished and removed the material can be reused, burned as firewood (unless it is pressure treated wood!) or composing. Typical life expectancy - 10 years?
Composite decking can range from fiberglass to plastic while most are a mixture of wood fibers and plastic fibers. Composite decking manufacturers claim long-term cost as the main advantage using their product. Not only do composite decks last longer but they require far less care. No staining or sealing. Typical life expectancy -- 30 years?
The environmental impact of composite decking can be minimized by planning all cuts to minimize scrap and by carefully capturing the sawdust. A composite deck will last longer (1 deck for every 3 wood decks) and doesn't require the annual application of stain and/or seal. On the other hand, a wood deck is made from a natural and renewable material that won't end up in the landfill, but you do have to apply fossil fuel-based chemical stains and sealants. There are also some composite decking manufacturers that are using recycled product that go into the manufacturing of the material.
Am I looking at this the right way? What have I missed? I want to utilize the greenest product but there are many ways to look at it.