In the past, there were just a few deck board options to select from. Decisions were as simple as choosing the wood decking option that fit your needs! However, times have changed and new technology has been introduced to the decking industry. While the new composite decking lines have presented homeowners with exciting low-maintenance and durable options, it has certainly also presented new questions to be asked at the time of deck board selection. Lifestyle plays a huge role when it comes to choosing your decking material. Do you spend a lot of time outdoors? Do you have a lot of sun? If so, you may want a light deck color? Do you have time for maintaining a deck? If not, a low maintenance deck is probably right for you? We’ve noted some popular choices below that are worthy of your consideration!
Pressure Treated Wood
This remains the most popular choice by homeowners today for economical purposes and its widespread availability. Pressure treated wood is usually Southern Yellow Pine. These boards have been chemically treated with Alkaline Copper Quaternary (ACQ), Micronized Copper Azole (MCA) or Copper Azole (CA) to resist insects, rot and decay. It is important to know chemical type and level to which the material has been treated. Pressure treated wood can be cleaned and stained to meet your desired look. Natural Yellow Pine is an organic material meaning that it will warp, bow, spilt and/or crack. Routine maintenance will help fend this off, and when taken care of, your pressure treated wood could last up to 20 years.
Redwood or Cedar Wood
These are great natural wood choices. Redwood and Cedar are more expensive than pressure treated wood, but there are no chemicals or treatments needed for these species. Both have natural tannins and oils that make them resistant to rot, decay and wood boring insects. With that said, their resistance is directly related to the amount of heartwood present in the wood. The more heartwood, the more resistant to elements and insects. When using these woods for your deck it is important to use Clear Heart, Select Heart, Construction Heart, or Deck Heart if they are available at your market. The other grades of Redwood contain higher levels of Sapwood or Pulpwood, which is not as strong and does not have the resistance. To maintain their gorgeous color, Redwood and Cedar will need to be stained with a semi-transparent stain, or the wood will become a silvery gray color.
Exotic Hardwoods – Ipe, Tigerwood, Cumaru, Brazilian Redwood, etc.
Exotic hardwoods are the most expensive natural wood choice for your decking. These species are not native to North America, they are grown in Tropical climates. They include some of the hardest wood species known. They are so strong and dense that it is suggested that you bore a pilot hole before attempting to install these types of woods with a fastener. Exotic hardwoods do not rot, decay and are insect resistant. Ipe (pronounced e-pay) is the strongest species of the group and is the most widely used of the exotics. You can expect your exotic hardwood deck to last at least 25 years or more. It is recommended to apply a UV blocking clear wood preservative every 3 years.
Note: For Redwood, Cedar or exotics check that they are harvested in responsible sustainable manner by asking your dealer or builder. Your wood should be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
If you are a traditionalist then it may be hard to wrap your mind around using composite decking. If you can get past the concept of a manufactured deck board, then you are opening a new door to amazing colors and low maintenance materials! Two very popular decking brands are Azek and TimberTech. Azek is a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) deck board and TimberTech is made from recycled materials, including wood, that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Both of these products carry a 30 year fade and stain warranty. Composite materials are not only visually appealingly, they are also tough. Composites resist: mold, mildew, moisture damage, stains, scratches, and fading. They stand up to extreme weather and require no staining or sealing ever! To top it off, NO SPLINTERS! Pricing for composite decking material varies by manufacturer. Azek and TimberTech have 3 different tiers of pricing to accommodate most budgets.
Aluminum might not come to mind when you think of deck boards, railings sure, but not deck boards. Aluminum deck boards are available and offer some advantages over more traditional options: they will not splinter, rust, catch fire, warp or crack. They have a lifetime warranty, are 100% recyclable, and are lighter but stronger than composites. With all those advantages, the character they lack is a vast color selection and priced higher compared to other products.