Decks make a beautiful addition to any home. They are a perfect location for enjoying the outdoors with family and friends. But with all the materials available, it can be a challenge deciding the best material for your home and the environment you live in.
Choosing the best wood for decks is all about taste and priorities. For some, it’s purely a matter of economics, while others place aesthetics at the top of their list.
Let’s take a look at some building materials that you will want to consider using when the time comes to build a deck.
What’s the Best Wood For Decks?
Do you want to build a deck but aren’t sure which wood is the best option? Check out these recommendations.
There are plenty of valid reasons for the popularity of pressure-treated lumber such as southern yellow pine. These include affordability and the fact that they are widely available anywhere in the country. PT lumber is also appealing to many homeowners because it is treated to resist fungus, wood-boring bugs, and rot.
There are also several drawbacks to using pressure treated deck boards, including its tendency to split, warp and crack, as well as the need to provide routine maintenance to keep it looking its best for as long as possible.
Extending the life and look of a deck made of PT lumber requires the application of wood preservative or stain every couple of years, plus an annual power washing to keep it clean.
Cedar and Redwood
For those who consider themselves purists, you might opt for western softwoods like cedar or redwood. These species of lumber are prized for their natural beauty and rich color. Both contain oils and tannins that naturally resist decay and voracious insects, and aren’t filled will chemicals or preservatives like PT lumber.
If you prefer cedar, the four best grades are architect clear, custom clear, architect knotty, and custom knotty, listed here from most expensive to least expensive.
These species of lumber also have drawbacks. In most parts of the country, the cost for cedar and redwood is close to triple the price of PT lumber, making them the more expensive option. In addition to cost, cedar and redwood need an annual power wash and to be treated with a coat of finish every few years.
This might sound like a tremendous expense and a lot of upkeep, but the results will be an amazing deck that you can enjoy for many years to come.
For those people fortunate enough to not have to worry about price, tropical hardwoods are a luxury not everyone can indulge in.
Tropical hardwoods such as Philippine mahogany, red tauari, ipe, Cunard, and massaranduba, are rich-grained woods that are naturally resistant to insects and rot, as well as being hard and durable.
As you might expect, these species of hardwood are not cheap, though in some parts of the country prices are comparable to the best varieties of cedar and redwood.
Anyone considering these exotic hardwoods should be aware that they are not the easiest species of lumber to work. This is because they are dense and thus challenging to cut and drill. Also, most of these tropical hardwoods are typically quite difficult to stain. Thus, you’ll need to make sure to use a penetrating oil-based stain specifically formulated for use on hardwood decking.
These days, homeowners are no longer limited to traditional building materials when considering what to use when adding a deck to their home.
Composite Decking and Plastic Lumber
Many consumers are drawn to more contemporary options such as composite decking or plastic lumber. In fact, these products represent the fast-growing decking materials on the market.
Composite products such as CorrectDeck, Tree, and TimberTech, are composed of recycled plastic and wood fibers, resulting in a product that is stain and decay resistant, free of knots, and durable, even in the most severe weather conditions.
Plastic products like ForeverDeck and Leisure Decking are 100% plastic. And because plastic lumber contains no wood fibers, it is far more resistant to extreme weather conditions, decay, and cracks.
The major advantages of composite versus wood decking include the fact that they never have to be treated, stained or sanded, and are low-maintenance.
Not everyone will be a fan of synthetic products, but smart consumers should definitely do their research and consider the advantages.
An aluminum deck isn’t something you’re likely to see every day. In fact, you might never come across one at all. But that doesn’t mean that using aluminum as a material for your deck isn’t something to take into consideration.
Keep in mind that aluminum won’t catch on fire, so you’ll never have to worry about lightning strikes. And bugs hate it. It’s also recyclable and doesn’t become brittle in cold conditions.
Another factor to consider is the fact that aluminum is much stronger than wood, and yet two to three times lighter. Because it won’t shrink or expand in changing temperatures, it doesn’t gap. This means you will have a more watertight deck.
Believe it not, aluminum decking stays cooler in the sun than most other decking materials due to its heat-dissipation properties.
But of course, everything about using aluminum for your deck isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is by far the most expensive of the building materials we’ve mentioned, costing upwards $9 per linear foot.
Picking the Best Material for Your Deck
As you can see, choosing the best wood for decks is not as simple as selecting your favorite color. There are multiple factors to consider, such as the climate you live in and how much time and effort you’re willing to devote to maintenance.
Building a wood deck might seem stressful because it is such a significant investment. But once you’ve selected the decking material that best suits your needs, it’s an investment you can enjoy through every season for as long as you own your home.
Click here to learn more about composite decking materials.