Your deck is an outdoor room and sometimes more. You will have many family meals and gatherings on it, so you must choose the right type of material. Choosing the suitable material is especially important for house decks. Unlike porches, decks are continually exposed to the sun, moisture, heat, and cold. On top of high resistance against the elements, you want your deck to go with the style of your house. So, it’s essential to know your options and the pros and cons of each decking material.
Here, we’ll inform you what to look for while choosing a material for your deck. Then, we’ll give you an idea of what decking materials are out there and what they offer. There will also be a few handy tips on making your deck last longer.
What to consider when choosing a material for your deck
Resistance to elements
Your deck area is continually exposed to sunlight, rain, moisture, cold, and heat. Decks made from the wrong material for their climate can soon wear out. For instance, wood doesn’t do well under heavy moisture and temperature change. So, if you’re living in such a climate, a wooden deck won’t be the smartest choice.
You walk on your deck, your children run on it, and your pets sprint. You move furniture from and to the deck. These can all scratch, dent, splinter your deck and ruin the fresh look. If you’re going to have a high-traffic deck area, it’s best to choose the material with the hard coding.
Ketchup, mustard, wine, or even sprays can stain your decks permanently. It’s a significant advantage if your deck can be refinished or repainted always to look new and clean.
The grip of the surface
Some deck materials offer a better surface grip so that you won’t slip on a rainy day.
The best warranty is one that covers the most aspects. Some deck warranties cover the appearance (discoloration, etc.), while many only cover the material’s premature wear and tear.
Knowing your budget narrows down your options and will help you make the right decision. Contact a professional online or use an online calculator to estimate how much your decking project will cost.
One thing to keep in mind while calculating your budget; the project’s cost won’t only include the cost of the planks. You’ll need to accommodate other materials in your budget, like concrete, support beans, etc.
Now, let’s take a look at the primary materials used in making decks: Wood, composite, and Aluminum.
Wood is the most traditional construction material and the most common choice for decks. Wooden decks look natural and do a good work of temperature distribution. They are also cheaper than composite and Aluminum. The main types of wooden decks:
(Natural, long-lasting, low maintenance, resistant to rot, decay, insects, etc.)
Pressure-treated wood decking
Pressure-treated wood (PT) is the most common and cheapest material of choice among wooden decks. They’re builder-friendly, durable, and maintainable.
- Anti-insect and anti-rot
- It’s easy to work with
- It can be stained to maintain its natural look
- Temperature changes can damage it
- Some chemicals used
- Photosensitive (discolored by sunlight over time)
- High maintenance (staining, sealing, power washing)
Cedar is the second most popular material used in decking. It offers a natural and elegant look. It even smells rich. That said, cedar is relatively weak and costly as well as high-maintenance.
- Cedar is of higher quality than pressure-treated wood
- Looks natural and rich
- Naturally resistant against insects and rot
- Excellent heat distribution (used in saunas)
- Expensive (almost twice the cost of pressure-treated wood)
- Scratches easily
- Discolored and faded overtime
- High maintenance (natural softwood)
Composite is a blend of wood fibers along with plastic. It is designed to resemble wood but comes in various colors and patterns. Composite is moisture resistant, lower maintenance, and more durable than wood. Composite decks will keep their look longer and don’t need more care than the annual cleaning. Using composite as your deck material will cost more than wood. However, its durability and maintenance will make it worth the money.
- Low maintenance
- Resistant to heavy moisture
- Recycled material (minimum carbon footprint)
- Resistant to discoloration by sunlight
- More expensive than wood
- Weaker heat distribution
PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
PVC is composite-like and is a material that is also used in making decks. PVC decks are planks with all-PVC core covered by hard PVC coding. PVC is lighter and purer than composite as it is made entirely of plastic. It is also harder and more scratch-resistant because of its surface coding. PVC has all the positives of composite and more.
Pros of PVC vs. composite
- Low maintenance
- Higher resistance to moisture and mold
Cons of PVC vs. composite
- Slightly more expensive than composite
Aluminum is the least common and most expensive deck material. That said, it is the best of all world. Aluminum has the lowest maintenance work in all the decking materials and long durability. It is indifferent in exposure to heavy moisture. Aluminum doesn’t rot, and by nature, it is an eye-sore to insects.
- Mold proof
- Won’t extend, contract, splinter, warp, or change shape
- Excellent resistance to elements
- Higher heat absorption than other materials
- Less natural look
How to make your deck last longer
Keeping your deck clean year-round will make it difficult for moisture, mold, and insects to cause damage.
To help keep the fresh and natural look of your deck:
- Do a complete annual cleaning. You can power wash your deck or scrub them with water and cleaning products.
- Please stay off the bleach as it can be harmful to wood decking.
- If you need to, use powdered oxygen bleach.
Oil (for UV to keep color)
The oil on the wood will keep the dust away and your deck shiny. To keep that look, we suggest re-oiling your deck annually or semiannually.
Lay down rugs
No matter how high-quality your deck is, protecting it with rugs will extend its lifetime.
Your deck is a valuable extension of your house. If you decide to build or replace your deck, there is a large variety of options. Knowing what each material has to offer goes a long way through helping you make the right decision—adding, repairing, or replacing a deck used to be a DIY project. Nowadays, it needs the right skills and quite a few tools. Contact a professional and let them handle the rest after you’re sure of what material to go with.