Wood is no longer the only material available for building a deck for your home. New technology has introduced products that are weather-resistant, easy to maintain, and attractive. Here are a few choices of popular decking materials and their advantages and drawbacks.
Wood is the Most Popular Decking Material
Pressure-treated lumber made of southern yellow pine continues to be the top choice for building an outdoor deck. There are many pros that keep this type of material at the top of the list. It is chemically treated to ward off fungus and wood-boring insects. It is resistant to rot and is affordable to DIYers.
The cons include required maintenance every 2 to 3 years with power washing and applying stain or wood preservative. Wooden decking also has a tendency of splitting or warping.
Western softwoods, such as redwood and cedar, are attractive to many homeowners. Never treated with chemicals, these softwoods resist decay, rot, and most insects. They offer rich color without stain and are a weather-resistant option of popular decking materials.
The downside to using redwood or cedar is that selecting the lumber requires knowing how to spot heartwood quality. Look for words like architect clear, custom clear, or construction heart redwood. Quality heartwood is higher priced than that from the outer core. Softwoods also have to be finished in order to hold their natural color.
Composites are Popular Decking Materials
Composite decking is comprised of wood fibers and plastic. It is a great choice for homeowners who do not care for the upkeep that a wooden deck requires. The mixture of wood and plastic creates an extremely weather-resistant surface that does not stain, warp, or split. There are several colors to choose from to match any home exterior.
Spraying with a garden hose is basically all the maintenance that is required to keep a deck made of this material looking good. The drawbacks of composite decking materials include growth of mold and mildew where it is shaded, the color fading with age, and eventual signs of decay.
PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is a thermoplastic that is popular in the building industry. PVC does not require painting, staining, or sealing. It is resistant to bugs and decay. Since there is no organic content, PVC will not break down as wood does.
The cons of using PVC is that it is not as attractive as natural wood and tends to get very hot in the sun and cold in the winter. PVC is also more costly than other decking materials on the market.
Powder-coated aluminum is not as popular as other decking materials. However, it does have advantages in building a great deck. It is slip-resistant, weather-resistant, and will not catch fire. Aluminum doesn’t appeal to insects and the coating lasts a lifetime. It is lighter and stronger than other choices and is completely recyclable. The cost is the major drawback with using aluminum. It is the most expensive of these popular decking materials.