Walking The Plank: Choosing Decking Materials That Best Suit You

New-Deck-Plank-Options

The weather is finally warmer and sunnier here in Ohio. Let’s let ourselves imagine that Summer is actually around the corner (and take those snow shovels out of your car now!). This is the perfect time to start thinking about building a deck for your yard—BBQ season is right around the corner! Where to start?

First, contact a licensed professional renovation and installation service. You may have a friend or family member who is great, but will they know if they need to pull permits or not? Probably not. A professional will also know how to ensure your deck is structurally sound and will weather the years. Professionals (hopefully) also know what materials and design is going to work best for YOU and how you’ll use your deck.

Once you’re ready to start, do some research with your contractor about what materials are best for your new outdoor space. One of the primary considerations should center on the best materials for your home in the northeast climate.

There are an abundance of materials on the market but all choices vary in terms of quality, safety, and value. In general, there are two main categories of materials for you to consider.

[aesop_image img=”https://adaptmyhome.files.wordpress.com/2020/09/4e16d-deck-materials.png” panorama=”off” align=”center” lightbox=”on” caption=”Main categories for decking materials.” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

When most people think about construction, the material that comes to mind is wood. It’s a natural material that’s used for everything around the home including fences and backyard furniture (think Adirondack chairs). Real wood decks always win hands down for looks because wood is naturally beautiful. Treated wood is also insect and rot resistant. Hardwoods, like redwood, are stable and warp resistant. The downside? They’re sourced from old growth trees which make them non-sustainable and expensive. Softwoods, like cedar, have an almost light honeyed warmth but tend to be soft and susceptible to splinters and scratches—think about that if you like bare feet outside or will move furniture and a grill around.

[aesop_image img=”https://adaptmyhome.files.wordpress.com/2020/09/60fc8-3-decks-banner.png” panorama=”off” align=”center” lightbox=”on” caption=”Your decking material has a huge impact on the look and feel of your deck as well.” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

Pressure treated lumber is widely available and has all of the durability of natural wood. Just keep in mind to do your research well because quality can vary with price. Cheaper pressure treated wood will distort when faced with weather changes like extreme cold and heat. Untreated pine is the least expensive option. DIY homeowners often find this material the most attractive because they can keep costs down with some annual elbow grease.

Is it as simple as pressure washing and applying a marine stain like Rustoleum every year? No. Sadly, the truth is that untreated pine ends up costing the homeowner in the long run. On average, untreated pine decks will need to be replaced (sometimes as often as every 2-3 years) because they cannot stand up to Ohio cold and wet as well as their pressure treated counterparts. No amount of staining and maintenance will protect an untreated deck in our climate.

[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#fcfcfc” text=”#404040″ width=”70%” align=”center” size=”1″ quote=”Beware of any contractor who gives you an abnormally low estimate. Remember to ask exactly what kind of materials he’s using for your deck, stairs, or access ramp.” parallax=”off” direction=”left” revealfx=”off”]

Next on our list are the latest in wood alternatives. These are either composite materials (a mixture of wood and plastic) or entirely plastic. Trex is arguably one of the highest quality and an industry standard for composite decking materials. It’s sustainable since it is 95% recycled wood. It also offers some of the best durability and appearance (there’s a wide array of patterns and styles to choose from). Maintenance is limited to a quick soap and water cleanup if needed – so no power washing. It’s mold resistant and comes in a variety of colors. This makes Trex an ideal material for high traffic decks because it will withstand heavy use without showing as much wear and tear. Trex will initially cost more to purchase, but the payoff is that there is little maintenance on your part for a beautiful natural wood finish deck, and you’re increasing the resale value of your home by using a trusted brand that is low maintenance.

[aesop_image img=”https://adaptmyhome.files.wordpress.com/2020/09/3e2cc-aca6184fee97dafaad8d9e2dff1f66ba.jpg” panorama=”off” align=”center” lightbox=”on” caption=”Composites come in a variety of colors and styles from the traditional, like these, to even bolder vibrant colors.” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

For the environmental and green conscious, another advantage of this composite material over wood: you’re limiting your carbon footprint.

Trex has many competitors but the main alternative to it is PVC (polyvinyl chloride). This material is 100% recyclable since it is entirely made of plastic. Like Trex, it mimics the look of real wood and is nearly maintenance free. The downside is that PVC is susceptible to fading and staining. Wait too long to clean up after that barbecue and you’ll be disappointed! Things like spilled wine, coffee, and sunscreen will stain a PVC deck if it is not cleaned up and left in the hot sun. PVC will also change with the weather.  Direct summer sun will make the material heat up uncomfortably underfoot and your deck will actually expand and contract with weather extremes. The result is that you’ll need to watch to make sure decking isn’t loosening over time.

Don’t let the multitude of choices overwhelm you! Here’s a handy summary chart with the pros and cons of each deck material.  Read it then talk to your contractor. In the meantime, plan for a long and enjoyable summer with your friends and family on your outdoor space! Just do a little research and you’ll be on your way to enjoying your new deck that’ll last you for years to come.

 

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55 thoughts on “Walking The Plank: Choosing Decking Materials That Best Suit You”

  1. I want to have a deck put in, but I’m not sure what material to use. It makes sense that I would want to find a contractor to help me out! It would be good to get some professional advice on the matter.

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  2. I want to make sure that I get the right deck for me. It makes sense that I would want to ensure that I get the best material! It seems like wood is a pretty good choice, so I’ll go with that.

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  3. Thanks for explaining how wood can give a beautiful and natural appearance to your deck. My wife and I are partial to anything that looks brownish and earthy since we think it will give the space a classy and timeless look. Should the money for it comes up, I will be sure to look into our wooden decking material options for that really nice aesthetic.

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  4. I found it interesting how you mentioned how composites come in a variety of color and styles! My wife and I are currently building our new house, and I wanted to make a nice composite deck due to the nice cost and low maintenance needed for it. I will be sure to bring this up to my wife and my contractor!

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  5. That’s a good point that building a deck with family and friends would be fun, but it would be a lot harder to get the right permits for it. I wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time and money building and then have to pay a fine for not having a permit for my deck. I’ll have to consider using a contractor so that I can let hem deal with that for me.

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  6. That’s a good point that building a deck with family and friends would be fun, but it would be a lot harder to get the right permits for it. I wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time and money building and then have to pay a fine for not having a permit for my deck. I’ll have to consider using a contractor so that I can let hem deal with that for me.

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  7. My husband and I want to add a deck to our backyard, and your article had great tips we could use to choose wood for this project. I liked how you said to consider treated wood, as it is resistant to rot and insects. Thanks; we’ll keep this in mind when choosing wood for our deck.

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  8. Thanks for explaining that cheap pressure treated wood can distort from the elements, so it’s better to invest more in the lumber or simply go with untreated pine. My husband and I really like the idea of having a deck added to the cabin we just purchased, so I’ve been doing some research about the different kinds of lumber we can choose from. I’m glad I read your article because I feel a lot more informed and prepared to talk with a lumber expert about our options!

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  9. My husband and I are thinking about building a deck so that we can watch the kids play while still being comfortable. We really want to get it made custom and to our specifications so it could be really nice to get it made by a professional. I liked what you said about how hardwood is stable and won’t warp when the weather is bad and if it is treated it also won’t get insects or rot damage.

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  10. After reading your post, I have the feeling I go with Jarrah, I love the color and I can imagine this will be fantastic once it installed in our deck, thank you so much for the informative article!

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  11. I like that you state that wood is the best look for decks. My wife and I are adding some features to our home and want to build a deck. I will keep this in mind and look for a company that sells the right decking material that we are looking for.

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  12. I like that you state that wood is the best look for decks. My wife and I are adding some features to our home and want to build a deck. I will keep this in mind and look for a company that sells the right decking material that we are looking for.

    Like

  13. I like that you mentioned that it is a good idea to research decking materials with your contractor before selecting one. My wife and I want to build a deck on the back of our house, and we want to use a wood that will be able to withstand the heat and cold. I think it would be a good idea for us to visit a lumber yard so that we can look at our options of wood to choose from.

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  14. I think it’s a great idea to ask your contractor for personalized advice about what materials to use. My parents want to build a new deck off their bedroom and I think they should consult a professional first. That way they can ask all the questions they need to in order to get something that will last.

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