Decking 101: Pressure Treated
This hardy exterior building product is an ideal material for places with high moisture or for installations that are in ground contact.
-- It's rot and insect defiant
-- Lumber will not swell, check, split or warp if treated properly
-- Should be treated with a preservative to minimize shrinkage
-- Needs to be washed once a year and finished with a preservative sealer
-- Lasts up to 30 years with proper upkeep
-- Cost: $1.20-$2 per square foot, uninstalled.
Decking 101: Redwood and Cedar
Redwood and cedar are known for their durability. These two types of wood naturally resist insects and decay.
-- Redwood is simple to stain and paint
-- Lumber is fire resistant
-- Soft surfaces make both woods prone to marring and denting
-- Wash at least once a year
-- Lasts 20 to 30 years
-- Cost: $2-$3 per square foot, uninstalled
Decking 101: Wood and Plastic Composite
Composite woods have the look and style of real wood, but don't rot, shrink, or splinter like the real thing.
-- Available in a variety of colors and textures
-- Can be cleaned with soap and water
-- Does not need to be stained or painted yearly
-- Dark colors may show weathering
-- Warranties range from 10 years to life
-- Cost: $1.75-$4.75 per square foot, uninstalled
Decking 101: Vinyl
With little to no upkeep, solid vinyl decks are the prefect solution for low-maintenance homeowners.
-- Needs no staining or sealing
-- Available in white, tan, or gray
-- Comes in slip-resistant designs
-- Interlocking planks channel water away
-- Lasts a lifetime
-- Cost: $4-$7 per square foot, uninstalled
Decking 101: Rubber Composite
Originally manufactured for commercial projects, this mix of polyethylene resins and recycled tires is a hardy material that can withstand extreme heat and cold.
-- Available in smooth or natural traction surface
-- Offered in terra-cotta, gray, and black
-- Requires periodic cleaning with water
-- Not widely available
-- Lasts about 25 years
-- Cost: $3-$4 per square foot, uninstalled
Decking 101: Plastic
Environmental benefits make recycled plastic lumber a good choice, not to mention it is long lasting.
-- Available in standard dimensional lumber sizes
-- Won't splinter, twist, or rot
-- Comes in a wide variety of colors
-- Needs periodic cleaning with water
-- Lasts up to 50 years
-- Cost: $2-$4 per linear foot, uninstalled
Decking 101: Metal
If you're looking to build an upper-level deck or balcony, metal is the route to go. Its interlocking planks form a watertight surface to keep things below nice and dry.
-- Available in lengths up to 28 feet
-- Offered in up to four colors
-- Recommended periodic cleaning with water
-- Susceptible to extreme temperatures
-- Lasts a lifetime
-- Cost: $2.50-$6 per square foot, uninstalled