Selecting the best deck material to be used is undoubtedly the most integral decision you’ll have to make when putting up a deck. Determining which deck material is right for your particular situation boils down to both personal and pragmatic tastes, including the type of climate in your area and regional restrictions. Various circumstances require different decking materials and each alternative has its own distinct maintenance needs, aesthetic appeal, and other essential considerations to bear in mind when deciding which material to go for.
In the past, choosing a material for your deck was relatively easy as you would only need to choose from the different species of wood available on the market. As more and more deck owners begin noticing their antiquated wood decks crack, splinter, and fade, the decking sector has blown up with contemporary, low-maintenance deck material alternatives to put up superior decks that hold their appearance and sturdiness for decades.
The decking options have expounded over the last couple of years, with five standard types of deck material, each with its own maintenance, aesthetics, and cost. Traditionalists will argue that there’s no better decking material to use than wood, however, the modern alternatives provide a range of appealing advantages, including low maintenance and longevity.
Types of Decking Materials
There are various in-style decking materials to select from, including composite, wood, and exotic woods. Before selecting the sort of material to put up your deck, it’s integral that you do your due diligence and explore your alternatives, understand the merits and demerits of each type, along with the maintenance level needed to maintain the beautiful appearance of your deck.
Below is a guide you can use to choose the best deck material for your outdoor space and factors to consider that may assist you to narrow down your final decision:
#1 Pressure-Treated Wood
This prevalent type of wood decking is the most popular decking material option, which comes with no surprise given how pressure-treated (PT) decking is relatively durable, cost-effective, and easily accessible coast-to-coat. It is treated with chemicals to resist wood-boring pests, fungus, and rot, which assists in increasing its longevity. If you aren’t a fan of the natural hue of the pressure-treated wood, you’ll be happy to hear that you can virtually stain to any color of your preference.
The problem with PT wood is that it isn’t dimensionally stable, which means that when left unprotected from the elements, it tends to warp, split, cup, crack, shrink, and swell. Actually, it’s a common occurrence to see one or more boards requiring replacement after a year or two due to severe warping. Maintenance is really a problem with this sort of decking material compared to most other decking material.
To extend the lifespan and aesthetic appeal of the deck, make sure to do annual power washing, sanding, routine re-staining or apply clear wood preservative. Even though PT wood decking can be treated chemically to prolong shelf life, maintenance and care are essential with this material. You can get Pressure-Treated wood at about $3-$6 per square foot.
#2 Cedar Decking
Cedar deck material is considered to be of superior quality to pressure-treated wood and also costs more. Cedar weathers gradually into a soft grey timber as the years lapse. It’s lightweight, stiff, and easy to use, making it ideal if you’re looking for the deck project to be DIY. Cedar has tannins, which act as natural repellants against pests, rot, and decay, which can increase the lifespan to about 20 years.
One integral factor to bear in mind if you select cedar as your preferred deck material is that you need to ascertain that the cedar decking you’re buying is heartwood, not sapwood, as this is directly proportional to the level of bug – and weather-resistance of your deck. Heartwood is located in the middle of the tree and is denser and resilient to decay. Sapwood is on the exterior side of the tree and is softer and more vulnerable to decay.
#3 PVC Decking
PVC plastics come in various quality levels, but most are relatively hard-wearing. Actually, first-rate PVC decking virtually has none of the weaknesses of wood. That implies that you need not concern yourself with staining or sanding plastics, making vinyl decking virtually maintenance-free. Aesthetically speaking, vinyl offers an expansive range of choices compared to normal wood. You can pick color alternatives for white, gray, tan, brown, or even designs that imitate the grain hue of wood.
The demerits of PVC decking are price and recycled content. Unlike wood, PVC decking is pricier, going for about $10-$15 per square foot for the decking materials alone. Like any durable building material, the increased price can be mitigated as time lapses by the savings accrued from little maintenance. Finally, PVC decking contains a smaller amount of recycled content compared to other synthetic decking alternatives (other PVCs are 100% virgin material). This subsequently raises the carbon footprint which destroys the environment and isn’t necessarily a top-tier deck board.
#4 Composite Decking
There are various kinds of composite decking. The phrase ’composite’ generally means various materials merged to form a new finished product. Composite decking materials are commonly formed from recycled plastics and wood fibers and are ever-growing as a popular decking option. Given how they are artificially assembled, they won’t splinter or warp, and they’re also resistant to insects or rot.
The best part about this decking material is that because of the constituents in the composite, most manufacturers use recycled materials without compromising on performance. Other brands make their decks using 95% recycled content. The price of composite varies expansively – up to $5 to $13 per square foot.
#5 Tropical Hardwoods
You can find tropical hardwoods anywhere: tigerwood, cumaru, and ipe, to mentioning a few. A true exotic option, tropical hardwoods are durable and grainy and as the name suggests, hardwoods are ‘hard’. Their thickness makes them resilient to rot and infestation. They also come with organic tannins that function in the same manner as chemicals applied to pressure-treated wood.
Various factors need to be considered when searching for the right deck material, from looks and price to installation and maintenance. Being informed can really go a long way. To find out more about the aforementioned deck materials and discover which one fits your deck vision, please call Tampa Deck & Fence Contractors at (813) 605-1904 to speak with a deck project manager who will listen to your dream deck and suggest the deck board that meets your preferences.