Choices in Decking Products
It was not that long ago that the types of decking materials a homeowner had to choose from was limited. But there has been a great deal of evolution in the decking industry that has significantly expanded a homeowner's options. Before you settle on one type of decking product for your project, you should become acquainted with your options and make the best choice for your home.
A Word about Utilizing Standard, Untreated Lumber
Homeowners are always looking for efficient ways to save money on projects, but there are times when saving a few dollars may not be worth it. Untreated lumber is always going to be your least expensive deck material option, but it requires regular waterproofing and staining to avoid being damaged by the elements. The years of staining just to maintain your deck can be avoided by investing in weather-resistant materials when you build your deck.
Pressure-treated lumber goes through a special process that protects it from the elements for many woods. This is standard lumber that has been treated to withstand snow, ice and rain for a very long time. Pressure-treated lumber is cut and painted just as standard lumber, but it does cost a little bit more. In the end, the investment in pressure-treated lumber will allow your deck to last for years and retain its form. Pressure-treated wood will not splinter, crack or warp as time goes by.
Redwood lumber is great because it naturally resists insects and weather, which means that you can have a durable deck without the chemicals that come with pressure-treated wood. Redwood also has that particular look that can really make a deck stand out. Many homeowners who get redwood decks find that staining the deck is not necessary because of the brilliant, natural color of the wood.
When you see a deck that has that natural wood color to it, there is a very good chance that the deck was made of cedar. As with redwood, cedar does not need to be treated to resist insects and the weather. Cedar is extremely durable and can be easily painted or stained if you do not want the natural wood color.
Composite decking materials are usually made out of a combination of plastic and wood. They are engineered to resist weather and will not shrink, rot, splinter or warp. Some composites can be painted, but most cannot. However, they do come in a variety of colors to fit the design you had in mind. They cut and install just like wood, and give a very natural look after they are installed.
As with any other kind of vinyl building products, vinyl decking cannot be painted. The main reason for this is the manner in which vinyl expands and contracts as the weather changes. Vinyl decking comes in a wide variety of colors and it can also be purchased with a slip-resistant surface, which is a good idea as vinyl can get extremely slick in rainy weather. One of the biggest advantages of utilizing vinyl decking is that it will literally last a lifetime with a minimal amount of maintenance.
The industrial world has been utilizing recycled tires and other rubber materials for decades, but it has only been recently that these durable products have found their way into the residential marketplace. Rubber composite decking material is extremely durable and has a deep color to it. The color options are limited, so you will want to make sure that the color options match your project needs.
Rubber composite decking material can be a little tricky to work with, so it is recommended that you have a professional contractor install these kinds of decks. Once installed, rubber composite decking can last anywhere from 25 to 30 years with very minimal maintenance.
Plastic decking materials are usually made from recycled plastics, so they are good for the environment. Plastic decking is generally made to look like the more popular wood decking products, but plastic generally lasts much longer than wood. The plastic materials are lightweight and can be cut and installed just like wood. Plastic decking does not crack and it does not warp, which makes it an attractive alternative. It can also be a cost-effective way of getting an attractive deck.
Metal decking products are more commonly used for balconies and stand-alone structures such as gazebos. While metal decking is very durable, it can also be dangerous to work with. That is why a homeowner should hire an experienced contractor to install metal decking. As with vinyl decking, metal products are rated to last for a lifetime and require very little maintenance.