Should You Build Your Deck from Real Wood or Plastic?

Composite Decking vs. Real Wood Decking

Composite decking materials are popular thanks to their many advantages, but they lack sustainability. Real wood decking is naturally beautiful, but can be a pain to maintain. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a product with the low maintenance qualities of a composite, but the natural look and feel of real wood?  Let us introduce you to Kebony® real wood decking.

Kebony real wood decking in Clear grade featured in this deck designed by Ronny Kyllingstad. The silver gray color shows the patina the wood develops over time.  In this photo we see a man sitting on his deck, surrounded by potted plants, next to his orange patio furniture.
Kebony Clear is featured in this deck designed by Ronny Kyllingstad.
Photo © Ronny Kyllingstad

Composite Decking

Composite decking is a hybrid product composed primarily of plastic and wood fibers. It’s a popular decking solution because it requires very little maintenance, it’s durable and long lasting. Brands like Trex® and Fiberon® tout the eco-friendliness of their products because they’re made of recycled plastic and wood fibers. While using primarily recycled materials is admirable, the production of artificial wood depends on the use of toxic chemicals and requires a lot of processing to turn the plastic into its useable form. And let’s be real…plastic in any form is not sustainable. 

Composite decking may keep millions of pounds of plastic from landfills this year but at the end of its life cycle it will end up right back in that landfill anyway, where it could last a very long time.  That’s because the plastic used to create the decking product is recycled, but the final product is not recyclable so it must be thrown away after its useful life.

Real Wood Decking

On the other hand, nothing beats the natural beauty, warm appearance and feel of real wood under your feet. But wood decking is not without its downsides. Even sustainable weather-and-pest-resistant cedar and redwood require a stain or clear finish every few years to block excess moisture.

What if there was a decking product that offered all of the advantages of composite decking but made without the use of plastic or toxic chemicals? And what if it was real wood?

Meet Kebony® Wood – an organic, real wood decking product that checks all of our boxes. Kebony starts with high quality, natural wood that they modify using an eco-friendly process to strengthen and enhance its cell structure. The treatment significantly thickens the wood cells and gives Kebony premium hardwood characteristics: hardness, dimensional stability, and durability.

Photo of Café & Restaurant Motto am Fluss in Vienna, Austria showing their Kebony Clear Real Wood Decking in its early stages.  Designer: Mareiner Holz; Photographed by Stefan Diesner
Café & Restaurant Motto am Fluss in Vienna, Austria > Kebony Clear Real Wood decking in its early stages when the color is a rich brown.
Designed by Mareiner Holz — Photo © Stefan Diesner

Kebony Benefits

  • Real Wood Decking – no plastic or PVC / wood composite. Just natural, sustainably harvested wood with a permanently enhanced and strengthened cell structure.
  • Ages Beautifully – the Kebony process gives the wood a rich brown color. After exposure to sun and rain, the wood develops a natural silver-gray patina. It becomes more gorgeous each year as it weathers!
  • Maximum Hardness – the process increases the wood’s hardness to levels of the best hardwoods.
  • Dimensional Stability – the patented Kebony technology significantly increases the dimensional stability of the wood. It reduces swelling and shrinkage by 40-60%.
  • Low Maintenance – no staining, sanding or additional treatments beyond normal cleaning! Simply scrub clean with a brush and water.
  • Long Life – Kebony has a stellar reputation and consistently produces a high quality product. This allows them to provide a 30 year warranty against rot.
  • Water-and-Slip-Resistantwithout surface treatments. The density and durability of Kebony make it an ideal solution for waterproof decking. Whether that’s for a commercial pier, a residential home with a pool, or simply a home in a wet climate. On the other hand, plastic composite decking can be very slippery when wet.
  • Withstands Extreme Temps – especially hot weather. Unlike composite decking that can get hot and stay hot, Kebony doesn’t absorb heat. In hot weather Kebony remains a comfortable temperature. So you can walk on it barefoot, or even lay on it.
  • Sustainable – Kebony is FSC®-Certified. The raw materials for Kebony are harvested from sustainably managed forests. And all of their suppliers hold certificates guaranteeing the origin of their lumber. Manufacturers of composite decking point to deforestation as a reason to avoid real wood decking. But with Kebony, you can be confident that they acquire their wood from forests that adhere to the highest social and environmental practices.
  • Eco-Friendly, Safe & Non-Toxic – no harmful effects on the planet or anyone living on it. The production of Kebony does not depend on the use of toxic chemicals – it’s based on a plant-derived, non-toxic liquid. In fact, it’s often selected for schoolyard decking. There’s no concern with children having direct contact with the wood. With PVC or other plastic composite products, you can’t be sure if it’s transferring or leaching harmful chemicals such as POPs (persistent organic pollutants) and phthalates.
  • End of Life Cycle – Contrary to plastic composite decking, once Kebony has reached the end of its life, you can dispose of the boards and compost them in the same manner as untreated wood.

A Clear Winner

Kebony modified real wood decking has a lot of advantages over plastic composite decking. Though it shares many of the checks in the “pros” column, like low maintenance, long life and affordability, a deck built with plastic components can’t compare to the natural beauty of real wood planks. Throw in the sustainability, eco-friendliness and recyclability factor and Kebony is the clear winner.

Kebony offers their modified wood in both Clear and Character grade options. Clear has a smooth and even look, while Character has bolder grain and includes the knots of the branches for a more rustic appearance. Kebony products are ideal for decking, cladding, and roof projects.

The Secret Rooftop Garden in Kristiansand, Norway with  Kebony Clear Real Wood Decking.  Large potted plants on the deck and small potted plants on wall shelves.
Secret Rooftop Garden designed by ARK NET AS
Photo © Jacob Buchard

Availability of Kebony – Ready to Buy?

At Greenhome Solutions, we typically stock Kebony decking in Clear grade. If you’re looking for Character grade or Cladding in either of the grades, the turnaround time is usually about 2 weeks.

For more information on Kebony modified wood, visit our product page or call us at (888) 447-9877.

Learn More

Kebony – Natural Wood, Made to Last  |
Plastic Composite Decking  |
Approachable, Sustainable Ideas to Save Money in Your Home  |
@kebonyusa  |

Looking to update your floors? Read What Flooring Do We Put in Our Own Homes? to discover our favorite sustainable flooring option right now.


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