Deck Materials Buyer’s Guide

One of the easiest ways to create more living space is by building a deck, enlarging an existing one, or replacing a broken or rotting deck. The world of decking  deck builder materials is always changing, and depending on your budget and needs there may be many choices.

By looking at the most common decking materials and considering your budget along the amount of maintenance you’re willing to do, you will be closer to creating the space where your family can enjoy the outdoors.

The most common decking materials are green-treated, cedar, composite, PVC-coated composite, and PVC. Below you will find the features, benefits and maintenance requirements for these materials.

Green-treated decking is the most common material used in new deck construction due to its lower cost. Green treated lumber is used in almost all deck construction for the framing because it won’t degrade like untreated would when exposed to weather. Green treated decking can be sealed or stained to help protect it. Depending on your location, this type of decking will require cleaning and maintenance to get the longest life out of the project. In colder climates that usually means every year or two, ideally.

Cedar decking is one of the more popular choices due to its natural look. Cedar decking is a little bit more expensive than green-treated and will also need to be cleaned and sealed or stained every 1-2 years in some climates. With the variety of colors and stains at your disposal, you can create a very complimentary look to your home and you can even change the color over time.

Composite decking has been the new rage and I would guess almost every customer I talk to asks for it in the beginning. Composite decking materials are made from a variety of materials including post-consumer plastics and wood flour recycled from the woodworking industry. The decking boards are either face screwed or some will have hidden fastener systems. Most manufacturers offer a variety of trim and fascia boards to match the deck boards. The composite decking industry has taken some hits lately. Do a simple search for “composite decking problems” on Google and you will find what some of these have been. One of the biggest complaints I hear is the need to clean mold off the deck as frequently as twice a year. I have also seen numerous examples of and heard home owners complain about expansion and contraction issues. I believe that part of the problem is in the marketing of the product which often implies that composite decking is maintenance free. In my experience, that is not the case if you want to keep the original look. Composite decking also fades quickly, so any good deck builder and manufacturer will make sure the customer is aware of that before the project begins. Many composites are backed with a 25-year warranty.

PVC Coated Composite decking is newer and has become a popular item with supply houses and contractors. This is simply composite decking being protected by a poly cover. Some manufacturers cover all side, while others have chosen to cover the top. The coverings offer protection against staining, scratching and fading as stated by the manufacturers. They offer more natural wood grain look for a more authentic look. As with composite decking, you can use color matched face screws or a hidden fastener in most cases. The maintenance for this type of decking will be easy since it involves a little time and a garden hose. Many PVC Coated Composite decking products are backed with fade and stain warranties above and beyond the product warranty.

PVC Decking is made from PVC and has been formulated to be exceptionally stain resistant and fade resistant with the use of UV blockers. Many times when I discuss PVC decking for the first time with a prospective customer they immediately think of white vinyl, but that is not the case most come in some very attractive earth tones that give your deck style. Many are backed by a lifetime warranty and also come with matching railing systems. The maintenance here is very little again because a garden hose and a little of your time can keep it looking great.

As you already could guess, a PVC deck or PVC Coated deck will cost a lot more up front that their wood counter parts, but if you look at the life cost and the maintenance needs they may be the best investment for your outdoor living space.

Brian Buresh founded Buresh Home Solutions in 2003 and has been providing home improvement services to home owners in Central since its inception. BHS is full-service home improvement company, offering kitchen and bathroom remodeling, basement finishing, siding installation, roofing, interior and exterior painting, handyman services, and much more. BHS service territory includes areas within a 60-mile radius of Des Moines and over 70% of all of BHS business comes from referrals from past customers.

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