There are many different materials to choose from when building a deck. If you’re looking to expand your outdoor space, consider using these materials:
Pressure-treated lumber. Pine that has been chemically conditioned to resist the elements and fungus, pressure-treated lumber is still the most commonly used decking material for homes. At about $10 to $15 per square foot for a professional installation, pressure-treated lumber is among the most affordable decking materials and easiest to install.
However, it is susceptible to splintering, warping and cracking and requires the most maintenance when it comes to decking materials. Homeowners should take care to properly maintain it through regular cleanings and wood preservation.
You should treat your deck every two years, but if the sun always shines on your deck, you may need to clean and seal it more often.
Rot-resistant woods. Some homeowners prefer woods, like redwood and cedar, that don’t have to be treated with chemicals.
However, these woods, which are naturally resistant to insects and decay, are more expensive, costing about $15 to $30 per square foot for a professional installation. Unfortunately, they still require regular cleaning and should be restained every two to three years.
Tropical hardwoods. Even more expensive woods are now being used for decking material, including Ipe, Brazilian cherry, tigerwood and cumaru.
These woods, which cost about $20 to $40 per square foot, are considered more aesthetically pleasing and provide durability and resistance to rotting.
As with redwood and cedar, you should clean, preserve and stain these woods every two to three years.
Composite decking. The options in composite decking, typically a combination of recycled plastics and wood fibers, are steadily expanding. One bamboo decking product, for example, is made from recycled bamboo fibers and recycled plastics. The final product combines the attractiveness of wood and the weather- and stain-resistance of plastics.
While composites typically require little maintenance, most manufacturers recommend cleaning your deck every one to two years. Expect to pay about $25 to $45 per square foot if you hire a professional to build your deck.
Recycled plastic lumber. For the environmentally conscious, decking material that has had a previous life is becoming an increasingly popular choice. This product, which is made from 100 percent plastic, is highly resistant to the elements, decay and won’t give you problems with splintering, warping or cracking, making it a low-maintenance option. It costs about $30 to $45 per square foot.
If wood decks are not properly maintained, they can begin to discolor, collect water, attract insects, warp and crack. Decks in direct sunlight require more maintenance than those in shaded areas. Regular cleaning with a water hose can help, but try a bleach-water solution if you have a mildew spot.
For more on choosing deck materials, read: Which Is The Best Decking Material: Wood Or Composite?