Compare Different Types of Decking Materials

When you decide to build or replace a deck to expand your outdoor living space, you will be faced with the choice of what material to use. The key factors to keep in mind are the material’s cost, durability, and maintenance requirements. May is National Deck Safety Month, so let’s look at the pros and cons of commonly used types of decking materials.

Pressure-Treated Wood One of the Most Popular Types of Decking Materials

Pressure-treated wood is usually cut from southern yellow pine and is the most widely used and least expensive of the types of decking materials. Pressure-treated lumber is treated with chemicals to deter rotting, fungus, and wood-damaging insects. It should be stained, sealed, or painted. A disadvantage of pressure-treated wood is it has to be cleaned every year. Another drawback is it is subject to warping, cracking, and splintering over time.

Redwood and Cedar

Cedar and redwood are wooden decking alternatives to pressure-treated lumber. Homeowners value cedar and redwood for their beauty and natural resistance to insects and rot. Both types of wood eventually fade to a soft gray if they aren’t stained with a UV blocking product, and should be sealed to prevent cracking. Another maintenance requirement is an annual power wash. Both redwood and cedar cost more than pressure-treated decking.

Composite Types of Decking Materials

Available in many colors, composites have the appearance of wood, but they’re made of a combination of wood fibers and recycled plastic. Composites are not vulnerable to rotting, insect damage, cracking, or splintering. Maintenance requirements on composite decking are low, but a deck that’s frequently damp may develop mold or mildew if not cleaned regularly. Composite decking materials cost more than the wood materials described above.

Aluminum

Aluminum is stronger and more durable than other types of decking materials. It doesn’t rot, warp, crack, splinter, or experience insect damage. Also, aluminum is fire-resistant, comes in a variety of colors, and doesn’t need maintenance. The cons for aluminum are that it tends to be pricey and can be noisy with foot traffic. It also is known to be dangerously slippery when wet.

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