Typically, a new home owner loves taking the time to think about what kind of decking material they are going to use when building a new deck, patio, or porch.
However, it can be quite difficult to know if you are going down the right path – or if you are using a material that won’t be a great fit with the rest of your property.
Keep reading along to find out more about six different types of decking materials, the pros and cons of each, and what you should consider before making a purchasing decision when it comes to your home!
Pressure-Treated Wood Decks
One of the most commonly used materials when building a deck is one that is called a ‘pressure treated’ wooden deck.
This means the wood has been chemically treated to increase resistance against things like rot or damage that could occur from insects. Obviously, this is a positive thing for most consumers who don’t want those negative occurrences happening to their deck over time.
It’s also a cost-effective option which will be one of the first things that homeowners look at. It’s almost getting a ‘2-for-1’ special due to the treatment acting as an insecticide for the deck, taking one more thing off of homeowners’ respective plates.
Unfortunately, some of that stigma can be a negative as homeowners worry about whether these chemicals being used are harmful for the environment or not. There are also some concerns about wood getting discolored over time and the maintenance that is needed to take care of a pressure-treated wood deck.
You’ll really need to use water sealant regularly to keep this deck healthy and looking good which can be a major deterrent for a lot of people.
While most homeowners go for wooden decks, some people do chose to go the route of a vinyl deck. These kinds of decks have actually seen a surge in popularity lately for a number of reasons. However, don’t simply be persuaded by popularity – look at the actual reasons for what will fit best on your property.
Probably the biggest strength that vinyl decking has is the fact that you avoid any concern that mold or mildew growth bring to the table. This is huge for owners because it cuts down on maintenance and upkeep right away.
On top of mold and mildew, you also don’t have to worry about things like termite damage, or a deck that splinters after time.
Another big positive is that vinyl decks are easily customizable, coming in different sizes and styles. When you consider this, it’s great for a homeowner who may not be super hands-on and for those who are more picky and want what they want.
There’s also a level of longevity and certainty with a vinyl deck because no matter the cost, you know you are getting something that has no reason to fall apart or get damaged by natural forces.
There are some disadvantages to vinyl decking, though. They do typically cost more to install than traditional wooden decks and there can be installation requirements that need to be met to install a vinyl deck. There can be additional requirements as well depending on local restrictions or other building codes because any shavings off of a vinyl deck are not biodegradable.
You’ll have to decide if the surge in popularity and the ability to get a custom size, style, or setup will be worth the extra cost.
Cedar is a very traditional deck material to use, so let’s take a look to see why so many people have used cedar over the years.
One of the biggest positives that cedar has is its durability. The reason so many people use cedar is because it is a sturdy wood that holds up well. It is typically resistant to rot, decay, and insects and it resists a lot of moisture absorption so that it can last longer than other woods.
Another reason people are drawn to cedar is due to its appearance. It’s an extremely attractive solution when building a deck and it has a traditional and strong color that can be treated or stained for a truly beautiful finish.
On top of its ability to be stained or treated, it can also hold a variety of different bleaches or colors. It can have a lot of different textures and grades which leads to a lot of different options for home owners when it comes to getting the exact look and feel that they want.
In addition, a cedar deck is typically pretty affordable given many other choices – certainly a leading factor when homeowners make decisions.
There are some downsides for a cedar deck, however. It is sensitive compared to other woods, so it can be a bit easier to scratch or dent than some other surfaces. Cedar is a wooden deck so it will still need to be sealed every few years.
Most composite decks are a mixture of wood fiber, plastic, and some potential chemical additives. Usually, composite decks will either be uncapped or capped. Uncapped composite decks can be more susceptible to mold and mildew. Capped decks eliminate that risk by offering the extra protection of a plastic shell.
On Long Island, where there can be long wet periods and cold winters, composite decks (especially capped ones) can bring a sense of security for homeowners who don’t want to deal with a decaying wooden deck under the elements.
Composite decks get rid of the maintenance factor and can be designed similar to vinyl decks so that the homeowner has a lot of control over what kind of style they are going for.
Most composite decking is made from recycled materials – you would have to ask your building contractors about the specifics for the products that you would be using on your project.
It’s also important to note that the technology with these composite decks continues to get better even to this day. That means that composite decks will continue to get better and decks built today will be even more scratch-resistant, less prone to fading, and overall better than ones from ten years ago.
However, composite decks are an expensive replacement for normal decks. Some estimates say that composite decks could be 20% more than a traditional pressure-treated pine deck of the same area.
It also bothers some homeowners that composite decks simply aren’t natural, no matter the finish, style, or look. There is a certain beauty or aesthetic that comes with a real wooden deck.
Even though they offer less maintenance, they do still require a normal cleaning schedule and regular sweeping as well.
There are a ton of manufacturers and different products available on the market for composite decks. You should do a lot of research to make sure you are getting a high-quality product if you do decide to stick it out with a composite deck.
No matter what kind of deck you decide on, make sure that you weigh the pros and cons of each type of deck along with both immediate upfront costs that will need to be paid as well as the effects of what your long-term maintenance costs will add to your deck. Keep your goals in mind and you can make a decision that works for your home in confidence!