One of the most important decisions you make when building a custom deck is which decking material to use. All decks use treated lumber for the framing. The framing is the structural part of the deck you don’t usually see unless you’re underneath the deck. The material you choose for the deck’s surface and the railings are what most people mean when they talk about what material the deck is made of. There are two main categories of deck material to choose from: natural wood or a type of composite material. Each of these materials has its strengths and weaknesses. When deciding which material to go with, a qualified contractor can help you to determine which material is best based on your maintenance needs, weather and environmental conditions in your area, and your personal taste.
Composite decking refers to deck boards made of either 100% polymer material or a blend of organic wood flakes and plastics. Trex is a composite decking material that doesn’t fade, resists damage from the elements, and never needs sealing or painting. It’s eco-friendly, too, because it’s made from high-quality recycled materials. Unlike treated wood, it doesn’t warp, rot, or splinter over time. It’s an excellent option for someone who doesn’t want to deal with yearly maintenance. However, there are some downfalls of using Trex. It doesn’t look as “natural” as a wood deck, and once installed, it can not be customized or changed how you could sand and stain or alter the paint color of a wooden deck.
Pressure-treated lumber, redwood, and cedar are the most commonly used wood for decks. The main reason people choose wood, aside from an aesthetic preference, is the initial cost savings. Wood tends to be less expensive than composite decking. Wood is also very easy to customize. You can easily paint or stain your deck to match your house’s color or add character to your deck. Choosing wood doesn’t lock you into a color/style like composite decking.
Which type of decking is right for you ultimately depends on how you plan to use your deck and your aesthetic preference. If you prefer the look and feel of natural wood and don’t mind being responsible for regular maintenance, then wood decking could be a good choice. Its lower installation price is also a plus for many homeowners.
On the other hand, composite decking such as Trex might be a better choice if you prefer minimal maintenance and maximum durability. While composite decking can sometimes look more artificial than natural wood decking, it has fewer maintenance needs. You won’t need to sand, strip, or stain composite decking. Homeowners may also be able to save money over time on maintenance when compared with traditional wood decking. An experienced builder will consider your preferences and budget and help you decide which decking material makes the most sense for your deck.