Tips to choose the right material for your deck

Tips to choose the right material for your deck

My dad would always buy good, quality tools.

I never really understood why he did this when he could save money and buy a cheaper tool and have the money for something else, like a toy BB gun for me. He would always say “You get what you pay for,” but I always thought he was a little bit off his rocker.

It wasn’t until many years later when after 20 years of work in public service I started a business building decks. I had built all my life: houses and decks and all sorts of furniture for my lovely wife who just loves to find things that I need to build “for the family.”

I started out buying the cheaper tools because I could get two drills for the price of that one. But, over the years, I began to realize how often I would need to go to my Dad’s to borrow his tools, which were still the same ones from when I was a kid, by the way. I quickly learned that “you get what you pay for” is a very true statement. Not only does the more expensive drill last longer, but it’s lighter and faster, the battery stays fresh and — on a more important note — the more expensive ones come with a cool bag and 1970s trucker hat. It is a win-win for everybody.

So, along with the right tools for the job, that goes for the right materials used to build your deck. Let’s face it, the average deck costs in the neighborhood of $5,000 to $10,000. I don’t know about you, but I want to know that if I drop 10 grand, that deck had better look darn good and not fail me.

I don’t know how many times I go to a house and see the wrong material, the wrong screws and apparently the wrong eyeglasses because nothing is straight. I recently saw a $40,000 deck in a very affluent neighborhood with bracing that scared the Begeez out of even the homeowner. I say this because I want you to get the right material, the right contractor and the right deck for your back yard.

Now, the big question “Which one is right?” Unfortunately there’s no easy answer. You have many choices depending on your budget, your taste, your style and the terrain. I’m going to give you four things to do to help you find the right material for your deck.

  • Research. Look at the material, the maintenance and the durability. Talk to friends, family and others about what they’ve done. Make an informed decision.
  • Talk with a professional. Get a professional deck builder to come talk to you, not a general contractor. Get a deck builder who puts his (or her) lifeblood into it. Ask him questions, grill him, research him and his business and get answers. You don’t have to be rude and most of us quality deck builders want to show you how much we know. I study this stuff and research it and then continue to research it to see if it has changed.
  • Go to a local deck material supplier. Go by and talk with them. They are great guys and don’t want to see you unhappy in the end because that makes them look bad. Find one who will show you the different materials, walk you through the manufacturing process and just show you what it’s all about.
  • Be prepared. Be prepared to spend a little more, even if it takes a little longer or you have to put some more savings back or whatever. Get what you want, and don’t just settle for right now. You’ll be happier in the long run.

I hope through this I have helped to show you how to pick the right material. It will take a little effort, but honestly if you just put a few hours into researching, it could save you years of misery. I learned a valuable lesson from my Dad those many years ago, and I hope that it has helped you as well.


About this Angie's List Expert: Mike Koch is owner and builder of Hometown Decking and Decorative Concrete. After many years in emergency services, Mike started the central Texas business and has been successfully growing every year. He enjoys working with people who have no idea what they want and giving them something amazing.

As of May 14, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.


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Marilee Kessler

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heard about you for a loooonnnnnnggg time. Now we need your services, thanks in advance.

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