The Best Choices for Decking Materials
As the winter approaches, many of us are concerned about staying indoors too much. The Covid-19 year-long scare, along with the many warnings from the CDC about numbers surging as we enter the colder months, means everyone is looking for outdoor solutions. Building a new deck will provide a place for friends and family to meet for the holidays and create a quiet, relaxing space to get away from the craziness that is our world today. The biggest decision you make about adding a deck area is the type of material that will be long-lasting, affordable and look great for years to come. Another part of having a deck constructed is deck waterproofing. Waterproofing is the finishing touch to ensure your outside space’s longevity and safety but must be done every few years to protect the surface.
Types of Materials
In recent years, the choices for decking materials has expanded tremendously. Homeowners are no longer confined to using simple lumber. Each type of material has its own nuances, benefits, and downfalls. The main options include:
- Composite is made of a combination of wood dust and plastic. Although that sounds kind of flimsy, it isn’t. It is a durable, weather, and pest-resistant material that is easy to clean. It won’t warp, rot, or splinter. Composite looks much like wood and doesn’t require any sanding or staining. The main drawback is that it is often 2-3 times as expensive as wood.
- PVC is close in the race for the best choice for decking material as it is made completely of plastic. It is lighter than composite, so building something with it is easier, but it doesn’t look as much like wood as composite. The cost is also prohibitive as it is generally 10-15% more than a wood composite.
- Aluminum is light-weight, stays cools, and is a resilient product. There are no worries about buckling, cracking, peeling, rotting, rusting, or pest infestations with aluminum. It is fire-resistant and is much stronger than other materials. Aluminum comes in a wide array of wood-grain colors and finishes, so it looks beautiful when finished. The problem is that it is by far the most expensive decking choice.
- Western red cedar and redwood are two logical alternatives. Both of these woods are rich, dark colors and are naturally wood, insect, and rot-resistant. Not all of these woods are created equal – if the wood is harvested from the heartwood area (center of the tree), it is higher in natural resistance. Sapwood is taken from the outer layers of the tree and may be less saturated in natural resistance. Check with your lumberyard to find the quality heartwood material. The cost of these warm woods varies as it comes from the West Coast. This makes the material less expensive in that area.
- Pressure-treated wood is the traditional wood used for decks. However, it has many disadvantages. Although it is treated, it requires lots of maintenance to keep it intact. Cleaning, pressure washing, and deck waterproofing are especially vital steps to the endurance of this product. It is also packed full of chemicals to make it rot, fungus, and insect resistant, so not as healthy for people, pets, or the environment. The most positive feature is that it is the least expensive type of decking material.
Wood products are almost always going to be the less expensive material. Finding a decking product that works with the homeowner’s lifestyle and budget is a delicate balance. The result of enjoying your new deck will be well worth the effort!