When it comes to building a deck, it’s often difficult to decide on the perfect material to match your home and property. There are never-ending options for colors, stains, patterns, and deck designs to help enhance your home’s exterior, so it’s easy to understand why making a choice is so challenging for some homeowners.
Since so many homeowners have a hard time determining the best deck materials, we’ve created a comprehensive guide of all the available options to make it easier to find the perfect decking solution for your home. Whether you’re planning to install a multi-level mega-deck or a small, simple platform, with the right materials and proper maintenance, you and your family can enjoy a beautiful, well-built deck for years to come.
Installing a deck is a significant investment, so it’s crucial to consider all your options before making an ultimate decision on the material you prefer. Work with an experienced deck builder in your area to better understand each material’s unique attributes. During your consultation, be sure to discuss:
- Maintenance requirements
- Design aspects
- Cost of materials
- Installation costs
Most modern deck materials are durable and require minimal maintenance, but there are still some distinct differences between each style. Let’s take a closer look at the key characteristics of the most common decking materials.
Durable Decking Materials
We’ve broken down the most notable aspects of different decking materials, so you can decide on the best style to suit your needs:
1. Composite Decking
Perhaps the most popular option on our list is composite decking materials. Over the last several decades, composite deck materials have improved immensely and are an excellent alternative to classic wood decks. Some of the most valuable characteristics of composite deck materials include:
- Resistance to:
- Mold and mildew
- UV rays
- Minimal maintenance requirements
- Authentic wood-like appearance
- Available in an array of attractive colors and styles
Composite decking can save homeowners a lot of money in the end because the durable material won’t need painting, staining, or resealing during its lifetime. Since composite deck boards are UV resistant, they don’t burn your feet during a hot day, either. Composite decks offer a stable surface that won’t warp when temperatures fluctuate from season to season.
There are several industry-leading suppliers of composite deck materials, so you can choose from a variety of colors, stains, and style options to suit your home’s aesthetic. Well-known brands like TimberTech and AZEK offer an extensive selection of colors and styles, so you’ll always have options to choose from that match your home and property perfectly.
2. PVC Decks
There are several key similarities between composite and PVC, making them both popular options for decking materials. PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is one of the world’s most widely produced plastics. It is a synthetic polymer material made for use in various applications but is especially useful as a decking material. Unlike composite materials, which are made from a mix of wood and plastic, polyvinyl chloride materials are comprised entirely of plastic.
Many people prefer PVC decking materials because they offer an outstanding amount of benefits. PVC decks are a cost-effective option requiring little maintenance over time. It’s a popular choice of material due to its durability and resistance to moisture, mold, scratches, insects, and other issues that may arise. Homeowners are always happy to hear they can power wash PVC decks, making annual upkeep a breeze for anyone.
Although PVC decks offer innumerable advantages, there are also a few downsides. For instance, PVC can expand and contract under certain conditions causing sagging, and it’s not quite as slip-resistant as its composite counterpart. It’s hard to distinguish between the better of the two when it comes to PVC and composite decking materials, so you should make your decision based on what best fits your needs.
3. Wood Decks
Wood is another common decking material option offering numerous benefits. You’ll typically find treated lumber decks made from any of the following wood types:
Wood decks are a desirable option for some homeowners since they have a significantly smaller price tag than most other materials. Some wood types, like ipe, are much more expensive than others, though.
The average life expectancy for a wood deck is about fifteen years, although, with proper maintenance, it can always be longer. Homeowners must make sure wood decks are re-stained regularly, every two or three years, to avoid fading coloration and water damage. Unfortunately, wood can warp, splinter, and rot, so this decking material requires the most maintenance of all our listed options. If the work required to maintain a wood deck seems too involved to suit your lifestyle, there is another option: KDAT lumber.
KDAT Lumber Decks
KDAT lumber is a modern decking material that easily withstands constant weathering, making it Home Pro America’s most recommended wood decking option. KDAT stands for kiln dried after treatment. Kiln drying lumber is a process that removes excess moisture and chemicals from the decking material. This process helps minimize warping, shrinking, and other issues associated with wood deck materials. If you’re not too keen on the constant upkeep of classic wood deck materials, KDAT is an excellent alternative that will last for years.
Another attractive option for backyard decks is aluminum, but it is exceptionally expensive to install. Although the initial cost is higher, aluminum decks offer immense benefits that make the investment worthwhile.
Aluminum decks have an impressive lifespan of over thirty years when paired with proper maintenance. The metal material is mold, fire, and slip-resistant, making it an excellent choice for your new deck. You might be inclined to believe that aluminum gets incredibly hot in the sun, but the material’s make up actually allows heat to dissipate quickly so you can keep your bare feet from burning.
Don’t worry about aluminum ever rotting, rusting, warping, splintering, or cracking either. The only downside to an aluminum deck is that the shiny metal material readily reflects sunlight, easily irritating the eyes. Although it’s not the right aesthetic for everyone, aluminum decks are a practical and attractive decking material option.
Building a Beautiful Deck That Lasts
The material options for your backyard deck design are endless, and it can feel like a challenge finding the perfect fit for your home. Talk through different deck ideas with your local deck building company so you can settle on the material that makes the most sense for your needs. Some contractors can even create 3D renderings using an online deck designer, making it easier to visualize exactly what your deck will look like after installation.
Installing a new deck is a significant undertaking, so homeowners should schedule a consultation with an experienced deck building contractor to better understand costs and discuss different deck design ideas before settling on a specific material. Make your backyard the most inviting space on the block with beautiful deck materials built to last.