Choose the Right Material: Decking

Not sure how to choose among the many types of decking material available? Learn about the offerings available and discover one that fits with your style and your budget.


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pressure-treated
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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.

    Characteristics:
    -- 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.

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Decking 101: Redwood and Cedar

    Redwood and cedar are known for their durability. These two types of wood naturally resist insects and decay.

    Characteristics:
    -- 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

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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.

    Characteristics:
    -- 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

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Decking 101: Vinyl

    With little to no upkeep, solid vinyl decks are the prefect solution for low-maintenance homeowners.

    Characteristics:
    -- 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

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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.

    Characteristics:
    -- 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

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Decking 101: Plastic

    Environmental benefits make recycled plastic lumber a good choice, not to mention it is long lasting.

    Characteristics:
    -- 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

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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.

    Characteristics:
    -- 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

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