With warm weather and longer days approaching, you may be thinking about adding a new deck. Or you might be wondering whether to replace or refurbish an existing one.
Choosing the right decking material helps to ensure a quality finished product that looks great and lasts for years. Your options include a variety of natural woods or a composite wood, all of which come with their own advantages and trade-offs.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the common types of natural wood decking, along with the unique characteristics of composite wood.
Types of Natural Wood Decking
The most popular natural wood decking varies by region. Western red cedar is the most common in the North Central Midwest, while redwood is more prominent in the West. Southern yellow pine is frequently used for pressure-treated lumber and is commonly found in the Southeast.
Cedar is a reddish-brown wood that ages to a silvery gray. It resists rot, insects and moisture and stands up to rain, sun, heat and cold.
Cedar must be cleaned and sealed every 1-2 years to maintain its color, and can last a decade or longer. A penetrating stain adds extra beauty and durability.
As a soft wood, cedar splinters easily and tends to show marks from walking, moving furniture and similar activities. It may also be vulnerable to warping or cracking without proper care.
Redwood, as its name implies, has a light to dark red color. Soft and durable, it ages to a pleasing gray. It tends to be more expensive the farther away from the West Coast you live, as it must be transported.
Redwood decking resists decay and insects, and avoids shrinking, warping or splitting. It contains little to no pitch or resins and works well with many different types of finishes. Maintenance is fairly easy and it retains its beauty well.
While moisture can cause it to blacken, a clear sealer will help redwood maintain its color. Periodic resealing is required to keep it in good condition for the long term.
Pressure-treated lumber is a popular choice for deck frames and support systems. It is soaked in insecticide and anti-rot agents for longer life. Its natural color is brownish green, but it can be stained in any desired color.
Durable, strong and eco-friendly, pressure-treated wood can last up to 50 years with proper care. It stands up to day-to-day wear and tear, and many brands carry a lifetime warranty. It should be periodically refinished with a clear sealer, and cleaning every 3 to 4 years helps to avoid mold.
Be aware that you tend to get what you pay for when it comes to pressure-treated wood. Sometimes cheaper brands can be vulnerable to shrinking, warping and twisting. Premium brands are kiln-dried before and after pressure treatment, making the wood less likely to warp. So paying more up front often results in a longer life and lower cost of ownership.
Composite decking is made from a mixture of wood chips or sawdust, and recycled plastic. It has been gaining in popularity thanks to its durability and ease of maintenance, and can last up to 50 years.
You can choose from an assortment of colors for a more natural look. Its color changes evenly over time, and may turn darker in shady, damp areas.
Composite decking won’t rot, splinter or twist, and no sanding, refinishing or restaining is required. Clean with a hose every 3 to 4 years to keep mold at bay.
Some feel that composite decking lacks the natural look and feel of genuine lumber. It also tends to be more expensive than natural wood.
If you’re looking to add a deck or make other exterior improvements to your home, contact Elite Renovations & Design for a free quote. We’ll help you choose the best materials to meet your needs and give you the long-lasting results you’re looking for.