Many property owners want to fit quality decks, but opt for the cheapest deck materials, yet these two do not always go together. It is common to find out that the cheapest material end up being the more expensive ones in the long-term. In the past, the choice for decking material was limited, which is no longer the case. Southern Yellow Pine and Redwood have been a popular option, while composite materials and cedar continue to become a popular choice for trim, railing and decking. The common types of deck materials include:
- Natural wood
The options include South American hardwoods, mahogany, redwood and cedar. Natural wood is beautiful and has a rich texture when properly maintained. Furthermore, wood is cheaper than other materials and can be refinished as desired by staining or painting, but it requires regular maintenance, as well as sealing (at least every year).
Although wood offers lower initial costs, the maintenance cost are higher over the long-term compared with composite material. Furthermore, softer woods deteriorate, with splits, splinters and cracks showing up readily, and some wood types are not pest resistant. The choice of higher-grade hardwood offers more durability, but is more expensive compared with softwoods.
Composite material blends plastic resin and wood fiber, with embossed grain to give the appearance of wood. This type of material is getting better with the most recent materials lasting longer. Composite material offers many advantages: the material is durable, low maintenance, does not split, splinter or warp, it is pest, moisture & rot resistant, and some are stainable or paintable. Composite material uses an environmentally friendly technology that produces green products, with some technologies using recyclable materials.
- Plastic & vinyl
Plastic materials fall into two main categories: Recyclable plastics (e.g. LDPE, HDPE & PET) and non-recyclable plastics (e.g. PVC (vinyl). The recyclable plastics are eco-friendly, while the non-recyclable add toxins to the environment. Like composite material, plastics & vinyl are low maintenance. However, this type of material is prone to UV radiation that causes brittleness leading to material breakage. Furthermore, the material tends to expand when temperatures are high.