D.C. area experts recommend decking materials

D.C. area experts recommend decking materials

What are the differences in the types of deck materials? - Angie's List member Philip Vitiello

Most homeowners chose between wood or composite decking based on considerations such as cost, aesthetics and maintenance, according to Jack Prins, general manager of highly rated Steadfast Construction Inc. in Fairfax, Va. "If you're in a wooded area, a wooden deck is going to blend in better. But if you're in a new development, most people are going for composite decks," he says.

Wood decking needs to be regularly restained and sealed every few years to maintain its longevity. Although composite materials, which are a mixture of wood and vinyl, don't require the same level of maintenance, they do need to be cleaned of debris regularly, says Jose Ugalde, owner of highly rated DeckMaster Inc. in Germantown, Md.

"Composite is better long term, but it's more expensive," he says. "But as long as wood is treated professionally, you can maintain the deck for a long time." He personally recommends AZEK decking, because he says the 100-percent PVC synthetic decking is scratch-resistant and holds its color better than composite materials.

When choosing wood, Prins suggests using No. 1 grade pressure-treated pine at a minimum, but he also recommends upgrading to higher quality C-select grade cedar, which ages better. Prins estimates C-select lumber costs about $26 per square foot installed, about $2 more per square foot than No. 1 pine. He says mid-level quality composite decking costs about $36 per square foot installed.

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