If you’re considering adding a new deck to your home, one of the key design decisions is the decking material you’ll use. There are several options but the most popular fall in 2 categories – wood or composite. Let’s first take a look at wood. The most popular wood choice is pressure-treated pine. This is the wood you likely had in your deck as a child. It’s the wood that has a yellow tint and ages to a gray color as it is exposed to sun and rain. Upgraded wood options include cedar or a hardwood such as ipe. Cedar is a great upgrade option if you love the knotty look of cedar. It is a distinctive look and is very attractive. Like pine, cedar will also gray out.
The most upscale of the wood option is Brazilian hardwood called ipe. Pronounced ee-pay, this wood is one of the strongest decking materials. It’s incredibly dense, heavy and sturdy. The strength of wood is measured on a hardness scale called the Janka scale. Southern yellow pine is on the soft end with a Janka rating of 870. Cedar is a little harder at 900. Ipe, in contrast, has a Janka rating of 3684. In addition to being dense, exotic hardwoods have dramatic streaking and rich colors that allow them to live up to their classification of exotic.
The other decking material option is composite decking such as AZEK, TimberTech or Trex. These brands fall under a category that has a few different names often called composite, low-maintenance, synthetic or PVC decking. When composite decking first entered the market, some 20 or so years ago, the product was a mixture of wood fibers and resin. This mixture was environmentally friendly because it included post-waste resin and post-waste wood fibers. There were some flaws with the early composite woods. Because of the materials used, the boards were susceptible to molding. Fast forward 20 years and the problems like molding have long
been solved. The category has also evolved. There are now solid resin PVC decking boards that don’t include any wood fibers whatsoever. These are made of PVC and are often called synthetic instead of composite since they contain exclusively synthetic materials. AZEK is solid PVC.
There is another choice in synthetic decking called capstock. These boards have a composite core but are capped with PVC. This provides the same great composite board but provides some superior scratch resistance, stain resistance and fade resistance. Depending on the brand, the caps might be on 3 sides or 4 sides.
In terms of pricing, solid PVC is at the higher end of the scale because of the cost of the materials. Composite is the lesser expensive of the low-maintenance options. Capstock is
priced between the two. Of course there can always be site conditions that affect pricing. Synthetic low maintenance options do have a considerably higher cost than their wood counterparts. But, they will not warp, cup, split, or suffer from insect decay. The low-maintenance options come with warranties of 25 or 30 years.
Which option is right for you? The most important question to ask yourself is whether you want to perform annual maintenance. Do you want to power wash, sand, stain, seal or otherwise maintain your deck every year or two to keep it looking good? Many Piedmont area homeowners do not. They want the color fastness and low-maintenance qualities that a composite/synthetic deck provides. Low-maintenance decks never need to be power washed. They never need to be stained and they never need to be sealed – ever. Synthetic decks also come with a 25 – 30-year warranty depending on the brand. Your Archadeck design consultant will walk you through the material options for your new deck.
If you’re considering adding a new deck, porch or other outdoor structure, give us a call for a free consultation at (336) 664-1332. We look forward to your call.