DEck materiaLs

The choices of decking materials today can be overwhelming











Your Deck Surface

Start here to discover and understand pretty much every one of the major building materials available to create the top surface of your deck.  It's much more than just wood.  Nowadays, it includes new materials like stone and aluminum. You'll also learn about waterproofing and coating solutions and alternative structural building materials that you may not have heard of.

SOFT WOOD

The most common wood deck material is from the soft woods species. They are easy to work with and less expensive than denser species.

But if you thought cedar, pine or redwood were all you had to choose from, think again.

Let's take a look at a comparison of each of the different soft woods you can use for your decking starting from the most common to the lesser known types.

MAIN FEATUREs

  • Type: Western Cedar, Red Wood, Pine, Siberian Larch, Tamarack, Hemlock, Douglas Fir
  • Cost: Low
  • Durability: High
  • Maintenance: Frequent to Moderate
  • Structure of material: Has wood fibres which are tightly packed together and this structure gives the boards the strength.
  • Resource: Coniferous trees which are quicker growing
  • Colour & Design: Can be stained a different colour & variety of designs

EXOTIC WOOD 

Hardwood deck boards have grown in popularity over the past ten years.  These are usually species from tropical areas.  Although heat treating has made some northern species suitable for outdoor applications like decking or siding.

Other Species Can Offer Similar Performance At Lower Cost

Let's take a closer look into some of the hardwood deck material there is to choose from.

MAIN FEATUREs

  • Type: IPE, Cumaru, Tigerwood, Garapa, Kayu Patu, Meranti
  • Cost: More expensive than softwood
  • Durability: High
  • Maintenance: Low to none
  • Structure of material: Is the warmest, most natural material
  • Resource: trees  slowly grow
  • Color & Design:  Variety

composite 

What You Need To Know About Composite Decking

For many people the thought of less staining, sanding, refinishing, peeling, cracking and splitting is very appealing.  Literally an extension of your stylish living space in the beautiful outdoors.

Composite deck materials have come a long way since early 1991. But it's a road that has had some bumps along the way.


MAIN FEATUREs

  • Type: Composite & Capped Composite
  • Cost: Expensive (similar costs for some very high quality hardwoods)
  • Durability: High
  • Maintenance: Low and easy to clean & install
  • Structure of material: Main ingredients of wood, plastics and chemicals. No staining or painting required. No risk of rotting, twisting, splintering, cracking, or warping. Mould, rot, and fungal decay resistant. Weather resistant. Warp resistant. Slip resistant
  • Colour & Design: Vast selection of colours
  • More info:
  1. Capped composite
  2. Composite Code

synthetic plastic 

What makes plastic decking different from composite?

More often then not you will hear the term "synthetic" used which is really just a euphemism for plastic. This deck above is plastic, PVC with a tropical grain pattern and it looks very nice.

Plastic deck boards have come a long way!


MAIN FEATUREs

  • Type:  PVC, Polyethylene
  • Durability: High
  • Structure of material: Plastic Decking - strong, durable, stain resistant board
  • Colour & Design: Opponents of PVC say it looks too shiny and unnatural. Polyethylene on its own is far to flexible and soft to be used as a deck board. Nor does it look like wood.
  • Environment:  Materials shrink and expand in hot or cold temperatures including lengthwise. 

VINYL

Vinyl Deck Boards Or Flooring?

There are two pvc vinyl deck material choices to consider.

Do you prefer the traditional look of deck boards with spacing. Or is a smooth totally waterproof surface more your style?

Both of these vinyl materials are very close to maintenance free.


MAIN FEATUREs

  • Durability: High
  • Maintenance: Low. Waterproof decks
  • Structure of material: The result is a fastener free surface and high durability and long life.
  • Resource: trees  slowly grow
  • Color & Design:  look like wood
  • Environment:  Materials vinyl shrinks in length during cold and hot periods 

Alternatives - ALUMINUM

Aluminum is fast becoming a popular option for people who want a truly maintenance free surface for their deck. This material is powder coated in various colors and there are now wood grain finishes that are shockingly real.


MAIN FEATUREs

  • Maintenance: Free Surface - Never Touch Again - Rain Sleet Or Snow
  • Colour & Design: Material is powder coated in various colors and there are now wood grain finishes that are shockingly real.

STONE

Why not build an elevated stone deck that will stand and out and be a little bit different than all the other backyard structures on your street?

Building an elevated deck with stones is very similar to conventional wood construction, but by adding a few extra steps you can end up with a beautiful deck that’s anything but conventional.


Pressure Treated

Do You Know You Have Choices?

It's true, the pressure treated decking market has changed a lot in the last ten years and continues to see new solutions.


MAIN FEATUREs

  • Types of pressure-treated: should purchase “choice,” “premium” or “select” treated board
  • Cost: Economy
  • Structure of material: Stainable, hard enough to resist abuse, and many brands carry a lifetime (though limited) warranty

BAMBOO 

Bamboo decking may not have been something you would have considered as a viable material for your deck.  But exterior grade bamboo is now available - and with a 20 year limited warranty.  More on that later.  But first...

You have probably looked closely at other more common products like composites, or pressure treated, cedar and exotics.  So what makes bamboo different? Let's take  a closer look.

Recommendation: 👍 👍 👍

MAIN FEATUREs

  • Type: Bamboo, Fused Bamboo 
  • Cost: similar but usually a bit less than 5/4" grooved Ipe in cost
  • Maintenance: Low (Perform similar to other exotic hardwoods)
  • Structure of material: Denser than Ipe. Consistently clear grain. Sealed and stained easily. High insect and decay resistance. Class A fire rating ASTM E-84
  • Resource: Harvested every 3-5 years vs 15-50 years for most other wood. Absorbs 4 times as much carbon dioxide as hardwood.
  • Other amazing articles:
  1. Fused bamboo
  2. Caring for bamboo


FIND MORE INFORMATION
STARTING TO ASK THE QUESTIONs 





FIRE RESISTANCE RATINGS

Fire resistance rating values are important if you are building a deck made of wood or composite materials wherever you live. 

GRADING

Lumber grading can be strict in order to give consumers reliable ratings.

PEOPLE ALSO ASK ABOUT DECK MATERIAL

We're here to help answer any questions, especially relating to deck materials. Contact Us if you want to discuss more. 

Richard Bergman 

Owner of Decksgo.com 

COULD THIS BE THE BEST DECK MATERIAL EVER?

I am often asked what I think is the best deck material to use. The best deck material should satisfy a little of those contradictory desires; last longer, low maintenance but less expensive.  See More.

Richard Bergman 

Owner of Decksgo.com 

ADDING ON TO COMPOSITE DECK TO MATCH COLOR

The challenge of trying to find an exact color match of new composite decking to older material is common. See More.

Richard Bergman

Owner of Decksgo.com 

BEST DECKING MATERIAL FOR WEST COAST

If you want a water proof deck there are a few options. One is building the surface with plywood and then installing a vinyl flooring membrane with heat welded seams such as a Dura-Deck product. See More.

Richard Bergman 

Owner of Decksgo.com 

WHAT IS the best waterproofing deck coating materials?

Fiberglass decking material is a reliable alternative to other waterproof deck coatings. See More.

Richard Bergman 

Owner of Decksgo.com 

OUTDOOR TILE FOR DECKS

It depends what the material is. If it is epdm rubber it is not really designed to have mortar and tiling over top of it. It could also be a number of roofing materials that also are not intended to be covered. See More.

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