So you are looking to enhance next summer’s R & R by installing a back deck, but you may not know about the materials most residential decks are made of. This quick guide will break down this year’s 3 most common materials used by professional deck contractors. It will help you make the most informed decision before shelling out for the perfect deck.
Wooden decks are the oldest and cheapest residential decking material. They can be painted to any color with the appropriate exterior paint. Also, if cost is an issue and your climate is temperate, a well-treated wooden deck will last with the proper maintenance.
Though they are the cheapest materials to construct a deck with, the long term costs might make wooden decks the more expensive option if they are not properly maintained, or as your deck ages. This is because wooden decks, being built from organic material, are more susceptible to moisture, mold, insects and wood rot than composite or PVC decks.
To prevent these issues, you must inspect, re-paint or re-stain your deck annually. Failure to do so makes your wooden deck vulnerable to the elements and to wood-dwelling insects.
Eco-Friendly – Depending Upon the Source
If you are planning to use wood to construct your deck, keep in mind that the distance the lumber has to travel affects how much energy went into producing and shipping it.
Consider Using Reclaimed Wood
Reclaimed wood comes from active demolition sites. Depending upon the service, a lot of care goes into protecting and preserving the materials during the reclamation process. This means that the end result is a brand new looking deck that is made from completely recycled lumber.
Composite Decks are true hybrids. Made of an extruded wooden fiber and plastic mixture, composite decks offer the strength and likeness of real wood, while also possessing the moisture resistance of plastic. The cost of composite decks vary, but they are usually more expensive than wood and less expensive than PVC.
Little to No Upkeep
Because composite decks are extruded and plasticine, they do not need to be re-stained or re-painted (or painted at all). The organic material is locked away in the plastic resin, so boring insects are simply not interested in composite decks. The material can be cut, trimmed and shaped like wood, and so it holds this advantage over PVC piping, which is less versatile as a construction material.
This option does have its downsides, however. Cheaper composite deck materials are susceptible to swelling, warping and moisture damage if they are not treated well with a strong sealer, sometimes called a cap.
Also, cosmetically speaking, composite decks can fade from exposure to the sun over time. Additionally, they are also not particularly scratch-resistant, meaning you have to be careful with outdoor furniture.
Are Composite Materials Recyclable?
The short answer is no. The plastic and wood composite is not sustainably separable. Generally, composite deck materials end up in landfills.
PVC decks, also known as “vinyl” decks, are made from polyvinyl chloride, which is indisputably one of the most widely used plastics across many industries worldwide. PVC decks are made of high-performance material, which, for the consumer, means that they are generally more expensive.
Being made entirely of plastic, this decking material can be made into virtually any color and display any texture – be it wood, or stone, or other miscellaneous textures. PVC is more resistant to scratching and sun-fading and offers no direct benefit to boring insects except for shade.
Vulnerable to High Temperatures
PVC decks can warp and denature in climates that feature excessive heat. If you live in a hot climate, a composite or wooden deck might be best. PVC decks also tend to get excessively hot after extended exposure to direct sunlight, so barefoot summer fun might not be a comfortable possibility with a PVC deck.
Some manufacturers automatically use a percentage of recycled materials when fabricating their PVC products. All PVC materials can be recycled and PVC decks are no different. If recycling is a big selling point for you, definitely consider PVC or reclaimed wood as the source material for your deck.
Now you have a decent grasp of the advantages and disadvantages of the 3 most common decking materials used in 2019. Make an informed decision on what material is best for your location, climate, and wallet.
Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey.
She writes for Superior Deck and Fence.