The best types of decking material

Adding a deck to your home provides several benefits. A deck beautifies your home and your yard. It provides a natural place to enjoy quiet evenings or host parties and get-togethers. Even more importantly for some, a good deck can increase the resale value of your home.

When it comes to adding a deck, the number of materials available for construction can seem overwhelming. Some of the most popular options are Pressure-treated wood, composite materials, vinyl, and cedar. If you live in the Pacific Southwest, you could also consider using redwood. 

When you consider the different finishes you can apply to each decking material, then your choices are virtually limitless! You can truly customize the look of your deck to fit any home.

If you feel a little overwhelmed, don’t worry: we’ve got a breakdown of some of the most popular decking materials to start you on the path to designing the perfect deck.

Evaluating decking options

The following three factors can help you decide which decking material is right for you: looks, initial cost, and upkeep.

  • Looks: this one comes down to preference. Do you prefer the look of natural wood, or do you like the look of a composite material? Fortunately, many of the manufactured composite materials do an excellent job of replicating the look and feel of real wood


  • Initial cost: What’s your budget for installing your deck? Natural woods tend to initially be cheaper than manufactured materials. If you have a smaller budget to construct your deck, you’ll probably lean towards natural wood, like pressure-treated wood or cedar


  • Upkeep: How much upkeep are you willing to either do yourself or pay a professional to do for you? Natural woods have a smaller initial investment, but they do require restaining or resealing every couple of years. On the other hand, composite materials require little upkeep, but they are more expensive initially

Each person must weigh each of these criteria to find the perfect deck for their home. Keep reading to compare each of the most popular decking materials on the market today.

Pressure-treated wood decking

Pressure-treated wood is a long-lasting, low-cost option. The wood--typically either fir or southern pine--is soaked through with an anti-rot, anti-insect agent. This agent greatly increases the lifetime of the wood by rendering it resistant to both the elements and insects.

Pressure-treated wood can be stained to match any home or setting. The durability, flexibility, and low cost of this material make it one of the most popular decking options. 

However, if you choose this decking option, know that you will need to restrain or reseal the wood every one or two years. If you fail to do this, your deck could begin to warp, crack, or rot.  If this happens, you could end up needing a professional to repair your deck, negating the money you saved in the initial purchase.

Composite decking

Composite materials blend the look of real wood with the low upkeep of manufactured materials. This decking is made by combining real wood particles with plastic particles. The end product is a decking material that accurately mimics the look of real wood, but has the durability of plastic.

Homeowners who choose composite prefer it because it requires no maintenance. No restaining or resealing required, ever. Only occasional washing is needed if mold or mildew appear.

The downside to composite decking is that it requires a higher initial investment than pressure-treated wood. Expect to pay more than twice as much for your materials over pressure-treated wood. 

Vinyl/PVC

Vinyl decking, also called PVC decking, is another great choice for some homes. This decking is made entirely from plastic. It requires no upkeep and looks great for decades. 

Like composite decking, vinyl requires a larger upfront investment. Additionally, if you live in a hot climate, the decking can get extremely hot when under direct sunlight.

Also, depending on the product you pick, the decking might appear “unnatural,” particularly to someone who prefers a real-wood look.

Cedar

Cedar is a classic decking choice. In some areas of the country, pressure-treated wood is more common because of accessibility and cost. However, the natural durability of cedar makes it an excellent option for your deck.

Cedar has natural anti-rot and anti-insect properties. It can withstand the elements to provide you with a long-lasting deck. It can easily be stained, allowing you to customize the look of your deck for your home.

Final word of advice: don’t defer maintenance!

You may be tempted to postpone keeping up your new deck. Don’t do it! Depending on the wood you choose, you may need to reseal your deck every couple of years. The wood could begin splintering, warping, or cracking if you wait too long. You’ll end up paying more time and more money if you procrastinate.

If you choose a composite material, know that the occasional cleaning can make a world of difference. A quick pressure washing can quickly rejuvenate the look of your deck.

If you want some help bringing your tired-looking deck back to life, let us know! We offer free estimates on painting and staining services for your wood decks.

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