As with any home improvement option, every consumer has unique tastes. For instance, if you are searching for materials to build a new deck, everything may depend on quality, durability, aesthetic features, and/or cost. Traditional decks are made with wood, whether it be natural or composite. Wood will cost more and require more care, but composite materials are often made with vinyl or aluminum and stand up better under most conditions.
Wood decking materials hold a natural beauty that is hard to match. The wood feels natural and holds warmth. It blends in smoothly with the outdoors, giving a rustic enjoyment to your deck.
The types of wood most often used include:
- Cedar: This is the highest quality board with straight lines. Artistically, it offers interesting patterns.
- Pine: This type of wood is often darker and is pressure treated. Buyers who choose this wood can have it stained or use a preservative that will give it an even darker, or lighter color. It offers the largest range of options.
Pros of Wood Decking
There are several reasons you might choose wood decking, including:
- Soft wood is not as expensive as other materials, such as vinyl or composite.
- It smells good and holds that authentic appeal that composite may not.
- If cost does not matter to you, there are a variety of hardwoods that will not splinter and will hold value longer.
Cons of Wood Decking
On the other hand, there are reasons to consider other materials.
- Wood requires high maintenance. To prevent rot and/or mold, you will need to keep it clean and treat it regularly with stain and preservative. Often, you will need to sand it to remove the finish before caring for it. This requires extra time and, over time, higher cost to the homeowner.
- Wood is easily damaged. Even with extra care, in wet or changing climates, wood will warp, rot, and may even succumb to insect infestation.
- Wood will last 20 year or longer, but it fades. The natural tones you fell in love with will turn grey and lose its luster.
Composite, or more correctly “wood-polymer” composites, are synthetic materials that are made to mimic wood. Because they are more environmentally friendly, often meeting Energy Star requirements, they have increased in popularity over the years.
Pros of Composite Materials
- Composite materials tend to be weather resistant. You do not have to worry about re-treating your deck periodically.
- The deck holds its appearance nicely. It does not stain easily, splinter, or turn gray in adverse conditions. It is often made of recycled materials that do not rot.
- It is lightweight and requires little maintenance. It is easy to clean and offers many years of satisfaction.
Cons For Composite Materials
- Composite decking materials might cost double or even triple the cost of wood at first.
- The boards are often very heavy and require special fasteners to assemble. This requires more work as the deck is built.
- Although the composite materials do not warp, splinter or rot, extreme heat makes them more flexible and can cause damage to the deck.
It really pays to consider all your options before making a decision that will haunt you for years to come. Do your research and handle the materials you are considering to use for your deck. If you have a budget, then consider what fits the best within that frame and how it will stand up over time. The choice is yours.