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An All-in-One Guide to Commonly-Used Deck Materials

Posted on November 04, 2016

Deck installation and repair by Jancon ExteriorsNo matter whether you are looking to install, repair or replace the deck of your property, there is no shortage of choices when it comes to materials. Before the introduction of modern options, the only choice in deck material was wood. Contemporary materials, such as composite lumber, plastic decking, and hardwood imports, however, have now extended the choices. Whether you are planning a home renovation or need to reposition a multifamily property, you need to know the right material for deck installation . To help you make an informed decision, this post examines the pros and cons of three of the most commonly-used deck materials.

1. Pressure Treated Lumber Decking

Affordable, easily-available, durable, and easy-to-install, pressure treated (PT) decking makes an ideal choice, if you are looking for an economic and durable deck material. Pressure treated lumber decking is chemically treated to resist fungus and bugs, which makes it ideal for humid climates.

The downside of PT lumber deck is that it is not dimensionally stable and often results in cracks, splits, and warps. That said, routine maintenance can help ensure an extended lifespan, which should include power washing and periodic application of stain or wood preservative every 2 to 3 years.

2. Natural Cedar Decking

If you like to keep things simple and natural, a cedar deck is an ideal choice. Both red and white cedar are rich in color and sure to enhance the aesthetics of your property. Cedar decking contain tannins and oils that make it naturally resistant to rot, decay, and insects. In addition, cedar doesn’t absorb moisture, which is why it is hard to twist and split and lay flat on the surface. The cost of cedar deck is moderate, which is usually more compared to pressure-treated decking, but it is less than composite.

The downside is that cedar deteriorates faster when used at ground level and in shade areas that make it dry slowly. To maintain the sheen of the deck, you need to clean and reseal it every year or two. Apply a clear, water repellent wood preservative to protect the deck surface from harsh weather conditions, and avoid splitting of the wood.

3. Composite Decking

If maintenance is a problem for you, invest in composite decking. Most composite deck material is made from recycled plastic and wood chips or sawdust. Though a little costlier than cedar, it is a worthy investment considering its long-term benefits. Composite decks doesn’t rot, splinter or twist, making them ideal for almost all climatic conditions. As there is negligible risk of defects in the material, you can utilize composite deck inch by inch. For maintenance purposes, they don’t need sanding, refinishing or staining, and can be simply spray washed.

The downside of composite decks is that they are prone to mold and mildew, if installed in shady and damp areas. Another drawback is that the deck is a little cold if you walk on it barefooted. If, however, you want durability and a relaxing alternative, bite the bullet and spend some extra cash on this option.

4. Tropical Hardwood

Another option in decking includes exotic tropical woods, such as red taurari, philippine mahogany, tigerwood, and cumaru, that are a little costlier than other conventional wood decking materials. These exotic wood types are highly durable, sturdy and naturally resistant to rot and insects.

The downside of tropical hardwood is it develops a soft silvery color, if not properly stained, and may also fade over time, depending on exposure to natural elements. In addition, some tropical hardwoods are not compatible with ordinary staining. In such cases, it is advisable to use an oil-based penetrating stain especially formulated for hardwood decking to protect the deck from rotting. Alternatively, apply UV-blocking clear wood preservative, every 3 to 4 years.

The Bottom Line

The type of decking material suitable for property largely depends on the climatic conditions in your area and the proficiency with which it is installed. The decking experts at Jancon Exteriors can guide you through the deck selection to installation process, and the following maintenance. To learn more about our deck installation services or any other questions, feel free to contact us at (508) 520-3935, or fill out our contact form and we will take it from there.


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