How to Choose the Right Material for Your Deck
If you’re considering adding a deck to your home, you’re likely imagining a wooden deck. It’s the tried-and-true material that has been used to build decks for years.
However, there are several more options available to you. Many of them look like wood from a distance, but they are made of materials that last longer and are easier to clean.
These options are usually more affordable than wooden decks as well. However, there are a few that could actually cost you more. If you have a wooden deck already that is falling apart, it might be worth making the switch to one of these new materials.
Types of Decking Materials
There are two aesthetic categories for home decks: rustic and modern. If you’re looking for a rustic deck, you’ll likely want wood or composite decking. If you want a modern look, you’ll likely choose a plastic or aluminum deck.
This post will help you make an informed decision on what material is best for your needs, climate, and budget. Then, a quick call to your local deck and fence contractor can help you finalize your decision.
Modern Decking Materials
These options look nothing like wood and are best paired with newer homes that already have a modern aesthetic.
You might think that plastic is cheaper than wood, but that depends on the type of wood you’re comparing it to. You can find wooden options that are both cheaper and more expensive than plastic, but all wooden decks will need regular maintenance to avoid damage and stains.
Plastic is weather and stain-resistant and very light, meaning it can last longer than many wooden decks. It also can come in any color you want - there’s no need to paint it, weatherproof it or treat it for insects.
Plastic is not a material that bugs want to burrow into, especially termites. You won’t have to worry about these common pests devouring your deck for lunch.
Like plastic, aluminum is also incredibly weather-resistant. You also don’t need to worry about bugs, mold, and splinters. And don’t worry; aluminum does not rust. It is the longest-lasting deck material.
Plastic and wooden decks can sometimes have issues with sagging, but aluminum is incredibly strong. You won’t end up with a saggy, warped deck.
It’s also the only decking material that is flame resistant. Your aluminum deck isn’t going to catch on fire. However, it has some issues with water.
Since aluminum is non-porous, you will need to install water draining channels that will carry the water off the deck. All you need to do is make sure the channels don’t get blocked by debris - treat these like deck gutters.
Rustic Decking Materials
These options work best with older homes or newer homes that have a rustic feel, including composite decking. Composite decking can be customized to fit either a modern or rustic style since it is made with both plastic and wood.
Composite decking has become very popular because you can customize it to fit whatever style you want and potentially save some money. It’s also easier to clean than wood without sacrificing a wooden aesthetic.
You don’t need to stain it, but you can if you decide you want to alter the color. While you won’t have to sand or refinish them, you will still need to clean occasionally to stop mold and mildew from growing.
If you want a wooden deck that requires less work, this is an option for you. Remember, it is partly made of wood, so it will decay over time. It will last longer than wood but less time than plastic or aluminum.
There is a large variety of wooden decking materials available. Pressure-treated lumber is the most commonly used decking material today. It’s affordable and easy to install, but it doesn’t have the maintenance features of newer materials.
It doesn’t even have the same features as more expensive types of wood. For example, redwood and cedar are naturally weather and bug-resistant. They won’t hold up as well as plastic or aluminum, but they are the best option for a wooden deck that will last.
Tropical hardwoods are a slightly cheaper option that will last longer than pressure-treated lumber but aren’t quite as high-quality as redwood and cedar. If you’re looking for an option in the middle, these tropical options are a great compromise.
Start researching the decking option that appeals best to your sense of style as well as your wallet.
Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey