Decking Materials and Their Pros and Cons

When it’s time to upgrade your home with a new deck, or to replace an old existing one, chances are you’ve been a bit taken aback by the amount of material options available. Different people will claim that cedar is the best option, while others tout plastic vehemently. There are so many different arguments that can be used in favor of either material it can be difficult to ascertain which material would be better for your own deck.

When making the decision on what type of decking material you’d like to add to your home, it’s important to take a few different factors into consideration. The weather in the area where you live can make a major difference in what type of material would be better. Also, the way in which you will be using the deck can be a key factor in making the final decision. For many homeowners, pricing can be a huge factor. So what options are available to you?

Pressure-Treated Lumber is considered to be the most economical solution for putting in a new deck. Pressure-treated lumber (or PTL) is the best-selling decking material available today. The reason for this is a combination of the material’s availability and pricing. However, the downside to using PTL is that it is not very reliable and has a tendency to warp and crack. Still, if taken care of and given proper maintenance, it can last for many years. While, in the past, PTL was infused with dangerous chemicals, the modern day PTL is much safer.

Redwood and Cedar are considered by many professionals to be naturally superior decking materials. These woods are prized for their beauty and rich colors. Another bonus is that, unlike other popular decking materials, Redwood and Cedar do not contain a list of chemicals in their makeup.  One major downside of these beautiful materials is their price. In most parts of the country, it is common to find Redwood and Cedar to cost as much as three times as much as PTL. This is a major deterrent for most homeowners.  They also require a great deal of maintenance. A professional power washing must be done annually and they must be refinished every two or three years to protect the wood from weather and cracking. Still, if money is not an issue, and the goal is beauty, it’s hard to do better than Redwood or Cedar.

Composites have proven to be the fastest growing decking material in recent years. These products are made of plastic or composite materials that are resistant to warping or cracking. A major upside of using plastic for your deck is the materials extreme weather and stain resistance. Another bonus is that, with plastic or composites, you will not have to worry about splinters or knots.  They also require very little maintenance in comparison to the other materials available on the market, as they never need to be stained, sanded, or refinished. It is, however, possible that they can fall victim to mildew and mold and must not be completely left to themselves. But, a simple awareness of this fact and regular checking of the material, especially in the shade, can ensure that your plastic deck will last for years and years without any difficulties. The main downside with plastic and composites as a decking material is the fact that they are synthetic. Many people prefer to have natural wood as a decking material. However, this is merely a personal preference and does not reflect on the effectiveness of the material for decking.

Aluminum is not a popular option for decking by any means. However, it does have its benefits as a decking material. The pros of using aluminum as a decking material include the fact that it never peels, splinters, cracks or warps and that it is resistant to weather, mold and mildew. It uses a special coat that prevents it from rusting or blistering, that lasts virtually for the life of the deck. The list continues – with aluminum decking, you won’t have to worry about wood-boring bugs, fires, or damage from extremely cold weather. So, with all these amazing benefits of aluminum, why doesn’t everyone use it? For the simple fact that it is by far the most expensive material of all the decking options.

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