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Which Decking Material Should You Choose When Building Your New Deck?

January 9, 2018

When it's time to build your new deck, there are many things to consider, but one of the most important decisions will be what material you use to cover your deck. There are many options available these days, which can be confusing for a lot of homeowners. Hopefully this post will help clear up some of that confusion!

 

The most popular options usually fall under one of these categories:

 

-Pressure Treated

 

-Cedar

 

-Composite/PVC

 

-Exotic Hardwoods

PRESSURE TREATED DECKING

The first and cheapest option to consider is pressure treated decking. In the Northeast US this is typically Southern Yellow Pine that has been treated to withstand the outdoor environment. The best thing about pressure treated decking is the price. Priced roughly 80% below some higher end options, it can be a good choice when budget is a big concern. One thing to remember is that the material cost may be significantly lower, but the labor costs to build the deck are still going to be the same no matter what material you choose, and you will be left with the task of staining your deck every year. When the deck is built, the decking is saturated with the chemical treatment, which needs to dry out before you can apply stain. This typically means about 3-6 months of weathering before you can stain and seal your deck. It is also an inherent property of the material to warp and twist as it dries, so your new deck may not look exactly the same once it has dried out. Another drawback is that many pressure treated decking boards have large knots in them which can be unsightly.

 

To summarize,

 

PROS: Very low cost when compared to other high end options

 

CONS: Warps, Unsightly knots, must be maintained.

CEDAR DECKING

 Cedar decking is in a lot of ways similar to pressure treated decking. It also needs to be maintained yearly for best results, but unlike pressure treated, cedar can be stained immediately after install so that your new deck will look completely finished when its built. This is possible because the cedar is kiln dried after it is milled, so the moisture has been taken out of the wood. Another benefit of cedar over pressure treated decking is that since it is kiln dried, it does not have the tendency to warp and shrink as it dries. This allows us to incorporate really cool details, like the thin darker inlay you see in this picture. Because of these advantages over pressure treated, cedar is about double the price per foot.

 

To summarize,

 

PROS: Limited warping after install, can be stained immediately.

 

CONS: More expensive than pressure treated, still needs to be stained yearly for best results.

 COMPOSITE/PVC

 

 Composite and PVC decking boards have been all the rage in the decking industry for the past decade or so. They are extremely popular because of the fact there is no maintenance involved with these products. Composite boards are made from a recycled wood and plastic core and then wrapped with a durable polymer shell to protect the board from the elements. The most popular manufacturers of these decking boards are Trex and Timbertech. We have used both with great success and since they are the two largest in the industry you can feel more comfortable in their warranty, which is typically 25 years. 

 

PVC decking boards are similar to composite boards in that they also require zero maintenance. The only real difference with these products is they are made from 100% PVC. Two of the most popular manufacturers of these boards are Azek and Wolf. Some people prefer one material over the other when it comes to composite vs PVC, but they offer many of the same benefits and it mostly comes down to preference. 

 

With both of these options, the zero maintenance comes at a price. These are among the highest priced options in decking.

 

To summarize,

 

PROS: Zero maintenance, warranty

 

CONS: High price

 

EXOTIC HARDWOODS

Exotic hardwoods such as Ipe (pictured above), Cumaru, Masaranduba, and Garapa are mostly sourced from South America and all share the property of incredible density and strength. These species of wood will last nearly forever without rotting away because of their incredible density, but still need to be maintained to keep them looking like new. If left to the elements, these species will turn a dull silver color, which some people prefer, but to keep the deep brown hues that you will see when it is first installed, you will need to oil it every year. Although it can be a chore to keep it maintained every year, no other decking option can match the natural beauty and durability of these species. With that beauty comes a price; these decking boards are priced about the same as the high end composite and PVC deck boards.

 

To summarize,

 

PROS: Incredibly dense and beautiful

 

CONS: Expensive and still requires maintenance to look like new

 

IN SUMMARY

 

There are a lot of options when it comes to decking these days, and they all have their pros and cons. Take your time when deciding what material to choose for your new deck project. All of these products can be installed with hidden fasteners, so you can still have a clean looking surface no matter what material you choose.

 

 

If you are in the Southern New Jersey region and are interested in a design consultation, click the link below!

 Or click below to see more of our work!

We service most of the South Jersey area, including most of Burlington and Camden Counties! Most of our projects are located in Moorestown, Cherry Hill, Mount Laurel, Collingwood, Haddonfield, Haddon Heights, Marlton, Medford, Lumberton, Hainesport, and Cinnaminson. 

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