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The installation of a deck will connect your home to the outdoor space allowing you to enjoy nature’s beauty truly. Decking creates a perfect space to host parties with family and friends, relax in the sun, and enjoy quality family time over a BBQ dinner. Decks also add value to your home, giving you a higher return on your investment. There are many considerations involved in choosing a deck, and with a wide variety of decking materials available, it’s essential that you have a complete understanding of the different options. This guide introduces the six different decking materials and their various properties, benefits, and maintenance requirements.

Wood

wooden deckPhoto by Fiberon on flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

With a naturally beautiful finish, it’s no surprise that wood remains the most popular decking material. Wood offers a natural look and feel that will bring style and elegance to your home. Wood decking is easy to install and remains durable as long as it’s maintained. Regular maintenance including staining and sealing will prevent weathering caused by exposure to the elements.

Despite the need for maintenance, wood decking has a long life expectancy of 10-12 years.  Even when exposed to direct sunlight, wood decking remains a comfortable temperature all year round. Wood decking is suitable for use around pools as it has a non-slip surface.

Wood is considerably inexpensive, however hardwoods, and high-grade woods can be expensive. Prices depend on your region and availability.

Take a look at our guide on Composite Decking Materials And Prices

Redwood and Cedar

deckPhoto by Fiberon on flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

If you’re looking for wood that is rich in color and resistant against decay and insects, redwood or cedar are for you. These woods require essential yearly staining to ensure their color properties are sustained. Redwood and Cedar are softer woods, and as a result, they will suffer from damage caused by extensive foot traffic. Redwood is harder than cedar; however, both kinds of woods are long-lasting.

In comparison to pressure-treated wood, redwood and cedar can be twice as expensive.

Composite

composite deckingPhoto by www.elitebalustrade.com 0n flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Composite decking requires very little maintenance beyond an annual clean with soapy water. As it made from recycled plastics and woods, it is environmentally-friendly and weather and stain-resistant. Composite wood does, however, become very hot during high temperatures, making it impossible to walk on. The appearance of composite decking, while not entirely natural, does closely mimic natural wood. Composite decking is more expensive than wood, but the durability and strength of composite decking make it a very appealing option.

PVC

pvc deckingPhoto by Fiberon on flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

Polyvinyl (PVC) decking is made entirely of plastic with no natural materials. While it is plastic, many designs resemble the color and texture of real wood. It is incredibly durable, able to withstand the harshest of climates and the wear of high traffic. It is also scratch, mildew, and stain resistant and non-slip. No maintenance is required to maintain the decking aside from a general wash to keep it clean. PVC decking costs more up front, but it does not require the ongoing costs of care associated with other types of decking.

The design and prices of PVC decking vary greatly, providing many design options. It may, however, be worth investing in more expensive PVC decking to ensure quality and long-lasting enjoyment.

Aluminum

Aluminum is an innovative decking material that is low maintenance. Aluminum decking is weather and fire resistant and durable. It is also completely slip-resistant and therefore ideal for decking around a pool. Aluminum decking can be interlocked to eliminate gaps, with textures creating channels that dispose of water.

Aluminum is the most expensive type of decking but is very easy to install and a great alternative to wood given its strength.

Bamboo

Bamboo has become an increasingly popular decking material given its sustainability and durability. The growth rate of bamboo allows for a sustainable and environmentally friendly harvest which is a key advantage of the material. Installation is relatively quick, and because it comes in longer lengths, little material is wasted during the installation process.

It has a natural beauty and is great for outdoor use as it is resistant to pests and termites. The durability and strength of bamboo vary depending on harvesting. It is usually weaker in comparison to alternatives and is prone to scratches and damages.

Bamboo decking requires the same amount of maintenance as timber to prevent fading and aging. The price of bamboo decking is dependent on the quality of the product with prices usually being more expensive than other decking options.

Tropical Hardwoods

tropical hardwood floorPhoto by Fiberon on flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

There’s no doubt that tropical hardwood decking material is the most impressive option. Mahogany, Teak, Rosewood, and Amarillo are some of the types of tropical hardwoods that can be used to create stunning decks. Topical hardwoods are durable, hard and very dense. In fact, their incredible denseness can make installation difficult as the woods are hard to drill and cut.

They are resistant to rot and insects and long-lasting given the right care and maintenance is applied. Hardwoods require staining every year, and a stain preservative applied three months following installation to preserve the natural oils.  Tropical hardwoods are also expensive but offer value in look and strength.

Before selecting a decking type, seek the advice of a professional supplier or contractor. They will ensure you are choosing the right material for your budget and will be able to provide guidance suited to your specific requirements.

Read more: Five Ways to Maintain Your Wooden Deck Over Time

A Quick Guide to Decking Materials was last modified: December 4th, 2019 by Daniel Smith
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