If you wanted to build a deck back in the day, you had two options: Build it out of wood, or don’t build it. Now, we could do without many modern-day problems, but we wouldn’t like to return to an era when decking materials were so limited. Today’s homeowner enjoys a great range of options when building their deck!
When you contact your deck builder, they’re going to ask you a few questions. One of the most important among them will be which material you want to use. That’s why we prepared this handy guide to the most common decking materials – read it and you’ll know how to answer your deck builder, or at the very least ask their opinion on which material you should commit to.
Pressure Treated Wood
We have to start with the king. Pressure-treated (PT) wood is usually yellow pine that has been sealed in a vacuum and soaked in a bath of fungicidal and insecticidal chemicals. It boasts excellent durability and resistance to the elements, which alongside its low price tag accounts for why it is used to build nearly three out of four decks in this country.
PT wood is easy to work with, making it a suitable choice for the DIYer. But you’re far from finished once you have built a PT wood deck, as properly maintaining one demands yearly power washing and staining. You also want to take proper precautions while building this type of deck, because inhaling arsenic-laced wood dust is about as good for your health as it sounds. PT wood is safe once the project is finished, though.
Cedar & Redwood
Although these two types of natural wood don’t share identical properties, both are attractive and more durable alternatives to PT wood – albeit more expensive as well. Cedar and redwood will both take on a lustrous silver color as they age, though you also have the option of staining them to preserve their original colors. Just take care if you’re a DIYer, as these softer woods take considerably greater skill to work with!
Woods like ipe, cumaru, tigerwood, and ironwood all create beautiful decks. An exotic wood deck is certain to impress your guests, as well as anyone you might like to buy your house from you one day. Exotics boast greater longevity than PT wood – but they also boast higher price tags. What’s more, these woods can be difficult to import, require more skill to install and have a greater environmental impact than materials sourced from America or Canada.
Composite & PVC
Composite is made from a blend of plastic and wood dust; PVC is pure plastic, without a speck of wood dust. The two-deck materials share similar durability, weather resistance, and low maintenance. Your kids will never get a splinter while they’re running barefoot across these materials, and insects have zero appetite for them. The catch? Composite and PVC will both eventually lose their color, and staining cannot preserve it. A deck made from either still requires a more traditional type of lumber for its structure as well.
Plastic & Vinyl
Synthetic decking materials have become increasingly popular among people who can do without the look of natural wood. Insects cannot eat plastic or vinyl (they would chip their little insect teeth if they tried), and they’re available in a wide range of colors to complement the look of any home. Lightweight synthetics are also extremely easy for the layman to work with. Just take care that plastic and vinyl become fragile when exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time – not to mention hot. You don’t want to go barefoot on a synthetic deck during the summertime!
Although relatively unpopular, aluminum decks offer a host of benefits. They don’t corrode, rot, splinter, or crack, and neither weather nor insects can harm them. Aluminum is the only completely fireproof material on this list, and the lightweight, zero-maintenance metal also absorbs heat very poorly – you won’t scorch your feet as you might have with plastic or vinyl. Of course, aluminum’s relative unpopularity means it can also be difficult to source. It’s also not as attractive as wood or wood-like materials. Many people believe aluminum looks too cold and sanitary to properly complement their homes.
You don’t have to settle on your new decking material before contacting your deck builder. Many people find it helpful to talk it over with their contractor, who can help them understand which material would best suit their home.
If you live in Central Minnesota and would like to build a new deck – or replace one that has fallen badly out of repair – then we hope you’ll reach out to Angell’s Construction today. We have built acres of decks during our decades in business, and we would love to share everything we know about all the different kinds of decking materials you can choose from!