Renovations

Deck, Deck, Goose: How to Choose the Right Deck Materials

Deck on a modern house

In 2017, the amount of money Americans spent on home renovations and repairs reached an all-time high of $327 billion.

Among those renovations, building a deck is one that adds both living space and value to your home. And when you’re building or renovating your deck, choosing the right deck materials is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make.

Knowing the costs of your decking material is only part of that decision. You’ll also have to consider the maintenance requirements and appearance of different types of deck materials.

In this guide, we’ll explain what your deck material options are so you can make the most informed choice.

Deck by a pool

Choosing the Right Deck Materials

The 5 most popular deck material options are pressure treated wood, composites, metals, PVC, and natural wood. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of repair and maintenance as well as durability. But there’s a deck material for every budget.

Pressure Treated Wood

Pressure treated wood is typically made from pine and fir. The wood is treated with chemicals in order to resist mold, rotting, and infestation from wood-boring insects such as termites.

Pressure treated pine is one of the most commonly used deck materials, and it’s also one of the least expensive. Expect to pay between $170 to $200 per square meter for treated pine decking. 

Although inexpensive to install, pressure treated wood decks require maintenance over time. The pine and fir planks crack and warp with both weather and time. Be prepared to repair your deck every few years.

Composites

A composite deck can last as long as 25 years – and that’s without much work in terms of maintenance. These increasingly popular synthetic deck materials come in all kinds of appearances. They can be painted almost any color and they can also be made to look like real wood.

Composite decking is made from recycled plastics and wood fibers. This deck material option doesn’t warp, crack, rot, or splinter. Composite isn’t susceptible to infestation from wood-boring insects either.

This type of deck material is extremely cost-effective. While the initial cost is more expensive than some other alternatives at $350 per square meter, these decks don’t require much in terms of repair or replacing. You also won’t be spending any time or money on oiling, staining, cleaning, or maintaining.

And as an added bonus, composite decking is environmentally friendly because it uses recycled materials. It’s also weather and stain-resistant as well as lightweight and relatively easy to install.

Metal

The most common metal used in decking is prefinished aluminum, though other metals are available. Aluminum is strong and resistant to even the most extreme weather conditions and climates. It’s impervious to infestation as well as rot.

Aluminum is the preferred metal decking option because it doesn’t rust. It requires very little in terms of maintenance. Perhaps the only thing you have to worry about with an aluminum deck is the occasional scratch.

While aluminum may not sound like the most aesthetically-pleasing choice, it can be made to have the appearance of wood. Alternatively, you can have them powder-coated to suit any color palette. Almost all aluminum decking comes finished with a thick, slip-resistant coating for extra safety.

A finished aluminum deck costs approximately $450 per square meter. You’ll also need to consider installation for this type of deck. Although the deck boards are light and easy to cut, they require special saw blades and fasteners that should only be handled by a professional.

Deck with outdoor furniture

PVC or Synthetic

This decking material is also called wood plastic. It’s made of polymer vinyl and other synthetic materials. 

Although PVC or synthetic decking material is the least expensive option for building a deck, they don’t last as long as other types of deck materials. Other than keeping them clean, there’s not much you can do in terms of maintenance to extend their lifespan. But that also means you don’t have to worry about mold, insects, stains, or scratches.

Natural Wood

There isn’t anything that tops the appearance of natural wood. Filled with the right patio furniture – like the furniture from https://www.patiosusa.com/ – a natural wood deck makes for a cozy outdoor living space.

Natural wood decks are very durable as long as they’re well maintained. In fact, they can last as long as 15 years before needing a replacement.

But maintenance is no small feat with natural wood. Without regular staining and sealing, your wood is exposed to the elements. Over time, this can lead to rot, splitting, and cracking, which isn’t cheap to repair.

The initial cost of a wood deck falls among other high-end deck material options. For hardwood decking like cedar, your cost will be around $320 per square meter. Unless you’re an expert DIYer, the deck should be installed by a professional.

Natural wood is also safe and non-slip, making it a perfect choice for pool decking. The wood doesn’t conduct heat so it’s never too hot to walk on after being exposed to the summer sunshine.

One of the more common natural wood choices is cedar. Cedar is a popular deck material option because it’s light, strong, and available almost anywhere you can purchase deck materials.

Thanks to a number of the tannins as well as the oils in cedar, it’s naturally rot and insect-resistant. That means that it doesn’t require as much maintenance as other wood choices. 

Even with that natural protection, cedar still requires regular staining and sealing. Not only will that prevent cracks, but it will also protect the color of your cedar.

Deck with plants and furniture

More Home Improvement Help

The most popular deck materials include wood, PVC, metal, and composites. Which one you choose will depend on factors such as your budget, the look you’re trying to achieve, and how much maintenance work you’re willing to do every year. You should also consider the climate in which you live and how durable your material is.

And for more home improvement and renovation tips and advice, check out our latest posts.

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