There are plenty of options when it comes time to choose the right decking material. Recent advancements have developed many low maintenance products that look great and last a long time. When choosing a material keep in mind its durability, maintenance, and aesthetic appeal.
Deck structures are all made out of the same material, pressure treated lumber, however the actual decking, can be made from a variety of woods or composites.
The most modern and popular option for decks, composite decking is made from wood fiber and recycled plastic fibers. It is made in a variety of colors and textures to mimic real wood without the maintenance. The smooth, even makeup of the decking means it will not warp, split, or splinter for barefoot enjoyment for years to come. Hidden fastener systems can be used with some types of decking for a true smooth, sleek look.
Most manufacturers warranty their product, with some lasting as long at 25 years. The true beauty of composite decking is that it never needs staining or sealing and will maintain the majority of its color for its lifetime. Simply wash the deck annually for beautiful results.
One drawback to composite decking is staining. As with any material, clean and treat stains immediately according to manufacturers instructions.
Composite decking is more flexible than wood, so the framing underneath the deck must be made from pressure treated lumber. Be sure to frame the deck to manufacturers’ specifications or the material may sag or slump.
Nearly identical to composite decking, PVC decking has a PVC surface for added protection. This type offers unsurpassed stain, scratch, and mold resistance along with the convenience of soap and water cleaning. Patterns and colors are similar to those achievable with composite decking and also will give a sleek deck look.
For a natural exotic look, philippine mahogany decking may be the right choice. Sawn from the meranti tree, today’s mahogany decking creates the look of true mahogany from plantation grown trees. Philippine mahogany boards are absolutely clear with no knots and are kiln dried to resist shrinkage and swelling. For best results, mahogany should be sealed on all six sides (Top, Bottom, Edges & Ends) prior to installation and fastened with stainless steel fasteners. In order to keep your mahogany deck from looking weathered, seal as needed with a top quality finish. Please note: It is all or nothing when sealing mahogany, you should seal all 6 sides or leave it unfinished with excellent airflow around the surfaces in order to avoid cracking, cupping and splitting.
For a traditional, natural look, cedar decking is a good alternative. Cedar decking has a beautiful and unique knotty look. It can either be sealed on all six sides prior to installation or left to weather naturally to a silver-gray. It is naturally resistant to decay and insects, but may not be appropriate for high-traffic areas because of its softness.
Pressure Treated Decking
The most common and traditional decking option, Pressure Treated decking is Southern Yellow Pine treated with a chemical that makes it decay and termite resistant. It blends beautifully with any landscape and can be stained in a variety of colors to match any decor. Pressure treated is an economical, strong and durable decking option. This decking will weather over time and maintenance is important. Splinters may occur and as with any natural wood product, boards may warp, shrink or expand. Be sure to install with the grain making an arch, crown side up, so the decking does not cup.
Decking is also made out of a variety of other woods. Be sure to check with your local Curtis Lumber for the availability of other unique types of decking, including Ipé.