Are you considering manufactured materials?
Composite or synthetic decking is the ultimate choice for a low-maintenance, long-lasting deck. Learn about decking choices for building your new deck.
Low-maintenance decking is good news. Traditional wood decks look great, but you have to refinish or reseal them every few years to keep them looking that way. Maintenance free materials and low-maintenance alternatives now promise much of the same look and feel of wood, but without the worry that they’ll crack, split or warp if neglected.
Wood composites (mixtures of wood fiber and plastic) are leading the way. We’ll introduce you to two types of compositesâ€”solid boards and a variety of hollow shapes. We’ll also tell you about vinyl and aluminum decking options that require even less maintenance than composites.
If you like the look of a traditional wood deck, solid composites are for you. They imitate the look, feel and workability of wood deck boards. They’re roughly the same sizeâ€” about 1 to 1-1/4 in. thick and 5-1/2 in. wide. They are tough and durable. They resist insects and rot. The finished deck will have a solid feel underfoot with minimal flex. Every composite board is identical and flat, without twists, warps or knots to slow installation time. However, composites may require an annual cleaning to remove mildew and dirt.
Vinyl requires even less maintenance than composites.
Simply rinse it down with the spray of a garden hose and you have a fresh, clean look. Colors (tan, white and gray) resist fading much better too. It’s lightweight and most brands have a hidden fastening method, usually screws that you fasten to a treated wood frame. Vinyl won’t look or feel like wood or the composites. When you walk across the deck, there’s a lighter, hollow sound. It blends well with vinyl siding.
Although not difficult to install, vinyl systems aren’t as versatile as composites. While you can cut it with a circular saw, installing it is more of an assembly project. You’ll need special end caps and other detail pieces. You have to plan carefully. Vinyl railings that complement the deck are also available. Many manufacturers back
the vinyl with lifetime warranties
Aluminum is a really cool option if you want a dry space under a deck and a maintenance-free, lifetime deck surface. It doesn’t look like a traditional wood deck. It’s heavy-gauge metal with a coated finish available in white, gray, almond and tan. The â€œboardsâ€ interlock into a gutter system that catches water and channels it away. Since it’s a kit-type system, you have to order all the parts. Railing kits are available. Aluminum decking can span joists up to 30″ on center, but it feels extremely stiff underfoot. It’s not as hot in
direct sunlight as you might think. The light colors reflect the sun. Aluminum disperses heat very well.
Wood is the original and traditional material used for decks. The Atlantic City boardwalk — the first oceanside wood boardwalk in the United States — was made of wood. According to some studies, wood continues to be the top choice for most residential deck projects.
-It’s the real deal — authentic; has a natural warmth
-Looks natural – because it is
-Some types of wood — often softwoods — can be among the most inexpensive decking material available
Hardwoods like ipÃ© can be expensive
Unmaintained wood can split, crack and change color
Availability and price are determined by region and economy standards.