You have two main categories of decking materials to choose from: natural wood decking or manmade products – but there are lots of options within each of these categories. The most popular wood products are treated lumber and cedar. Other species of wood such as redwood and hardwoods like Ipe, jutoba and tigerwood are also used on decks, but not nearly as often. Manmade deck material products include composites, PVC and vinyl.
The majority of decking projects built today are made of standard wood decking, or the more recent composite decking. The main reason people choose wood is for the initial cost savings. The main reason people choose composite or manmade deck materials is for the low maintenance required.
So what deck material is best for you? There are numerous factors to evaluate before making a decision.
You’ll need to ask questions like:
- How will the deck be used?
- Is it in a shaded area or a sunny one?
- How long do you plan to live in your home?
- Do you plan on doing your own deck maintenance or employing a company to do it for you?
As you can see, the questions have important significance. So really the main question to ask is… how much maintenance do you want to do on it?
The next advice would be to gain samples from potential suppliers, most companies will send several colours and specification to give you an idea of what you will want to go for. We can’t comment on all companies but generally they will send samples and just ask you to pay for the postage.
Factoring in wood maintenance costs
The installation costs for composite decking or wood decking is going to be roughly the same, as you can use the same tools you would use on wood decking for composite decking. However, because of the nature of the natural product in wood decking they will require more maintenance. If you’re willing to do the resealing and repairs yourself, a wood deck may still be cheaper, but if you’re going to employ someone then it would be worthwhile to factor that future cost into your decision at the time when the deck is being installed. You will also need to consider that the staining, varnishing, painting and sanding will need to be done regularly.
Composite decking requires very little maintenance, usually just cleaning off the debris and dirt from season to season. It also does not require any staining as you would need with wood decking, there is no risk of splinters, rotting or warping with composite decking either (but you must always install it correctly based on the manufacturers specifications).
It’s clear from research that composite decking is certainly an easier and potentially cheaper option when creating your decking project, however at the end of the day, you will be the one sitting on it and enjoying it, so the final choice must be yours. You need to decide for yourself what fits best for your home and situation. The best way to do that is to talk with a knowledgeable decking supplier that can ask you the right questions and help you make the best decision. Just be honest with yourself from the start about whether you’re going to do the maintenance.