Outdoor decks can be a great addition to a home, providing an open-air environment ideal for rest, relaxation, and recreation. They provide a very high return on investment compared to many home renovations and can be installed on almost any type of terrain. One of the most important factors to consider when installing a deck is the material of the deck itself. Implementing the incorrect deck material relative to the climate or environment that the deck will occupy could significantly increase maintenance costs or hinder the deck’s functionality.
Pressure-treated wood is the most common decking material used in the United States, currently used in roughly 75% of new decks. It is treated with chemicals to resist rot, mold, and termites, and is also very affordable, usually costing no more than $2.50 per square foot. Unfortunately, decks made out of pressure-treated wood can be difficult to maintain, as they often suffer from cracking and warping.
While concrete is usually thought of as a material for driveways, sidewalks, or patios, it is quickly emerging as a popular option for decks as well. Concrete decks are very durable, immune to methods of deterioration such as rotting, termites, and mold common to wood-based decks. They are also much easier to clean than almost all other kinds of decks. The biggest disadvantage of concrete decks is that they can get very hot while in direct sunlight, so they may not be the best option for hotter climates.
Tropical hardwood decks are a high-end choice for homeowners, usually synonymous with luxury and pleasure. They comprise wood such as tigerwood and ipe and are naturally resistant to breakdowns due to rotting and termites. These luxury decks come with a pretty hefty price tag, costing up to $12 per square foot, and also do not react well to most finishes and stains.
Composite decks are comprised of wood fibers and recycled plastics and are quickly becoming one of the most popular options for many homeowners. Their composition makes them resistant to factors such as rot, mold, termites, and warping, an ideal option for individuals looking for a durable decking option that needs little maintenance. However, because they are partially made out of wood fibers, they can still suffer from some wood-based decaying factors over time. They also can be very expensive, costing up to $10 per square foot.
Cedar is a great option for those who desire a beautiful color to their deck without having to apply a finish or stain. It is one of the few decking materials that are both lightweight and strong, making it a great option for areas subject to strong winds or storms. The most significant drawback of cedar is its price range, which is $5 or more per square foot, depending on the quality of the cedar wood used.
While aluminum decks are very rare, they still are an available decking material option. They are immune to several wood-based breakdown factors including rot, termites, and mold, which will not warp or crack over time and are not subject to rust. Aluminum is the most expensive deck material option available costing $11 per square foot on average.