Choosing the Best Deck Material

Having a great deck in your backyard is a beautiful thing. It’s the perfect spot in which to host parties, invite the neighbours over for cocktails, or just relax and watch the sunset.

But, if you’re building a deck for the first time, or your deck builder has asked you a lot of questions about which decking material you prefer, you might want to do some research to find out which deck design would be right for you.

Luckily, now that you’ve found this article you’ve removed any need for research! You can find everything you need to know right here.

So, without further ado, here is a complete breakdown of the different decking materials available today, and all their pros and cons.

Pressure Treated Wood Deck

Many people love the look and feel of wood. To be honest, wood has a lot going for it. It provides a very pleasant surface on which bare feet can walk comfortably, it’s familiar to every builder out there, and it comes with a very predictable set of physical properties.

However, it’s those very properties that also contribute to a wide variety of maintenance issues that can cause certain headaches down the line.

The main advantage of pressure-treated wood is right in its name. Using an intense amount of pressure, the lumber is inundated with several different chemical compounds that provide the wood with a high degree of resistance to natural elements such as moisture, fungi, insects, and heat. 

Now, while pressure-treated wood will last much longer than its non-treated counterparts, it isn’t as resistant as other forms of decking material. Like all wood, it will decay over time, and will eventually require you to replace the deck boards.

With this type of wood, you’re also looking at a higher cost compared to other forms of lumber, but pressure-treated wood is lighter and more durable - which justifies the higher price tag.

Vinyl Deck

Like pressure-treated wood, vinyl decking is highly resistant to insects, mould, and mildew. It generally requires less maintenance, it’s extremely light and comes in almost any colour under the sun. It will never cause any splinters, can be engineered to be slip- and stain-resistant and can be cut or sized to almost any length.

However, vinyl does come with its fair share of issues. It’s not cheap, for one, and once you pick your colour, you can never change it. Oh, and speaking of colour - if your deck has a lot of sun exposure, you can count on your vinyl deck boards fading rather quickly.

For you see, not all vinyl is created equal. While some of it can be treated during manufacturing to include some fade resistance, this isn’t the case all around. The vast majority of vinyl decking will inevitably fade to a bland, listless shade of its former glory.

Add to that the fact that special installation processes are required and all shavings produced as a result of cutting or drilling must be thoroughly cleaned - as they are not biodegradable, and you may want to consider alternative options for your new deck

Western Red Cedar Deck

As a true die-hard Canadian, you may be sorely tempted to use this all-time classic deck material for your new backyard party platform. And while there are a lot of benefits to having a deck made out of this all-natural lumber, it does come with a host of considerations as well. 

First of all, Western Red Cedar specifically (which is used the most) is incredibly versatile when it comes to staining, treatment, and colour options as it’s both pitch- and resin-free. It’s far more affordable than other types of decking material, and it’s incredibly attractive to look at.

The downsides, while few, are still worth noting. It requires a fair amount of maintenance and cleaning in order to ensure its appealing look, and it can be easily scratched by pets and other sharp implements running along its surface.

And, like all wood, cedar decking will decay over time. Proper maintenance throughout the years will ensure a longer shelf life, but you’ll likely have to end up replacing the deck boards every 25 to 40 years.

Composite Deck

Now we’ve come to it, the crème de la crème of the decking world. Composite decking is a material that combines the strengths of both wood and plastic - yet has none of their weaknesses.

While it is the most expensive option, it’s also the most comfortable on bare feet, will never produce any splinters, is incredibly scratch and stain resistant, won’t expand or contract in extreme heat, and best of all, it’s made from recycled components.

Composite decking is also given the full round of treatments to ensure that whatever colour you choose, it will never fade. During its manufacturing, composite deck boards are infused with SPF 50, essentially giving it a lifelong layer of sunblock. It also requires very little maintenance over its lifetime. And to get it clean there’s no need to stain, pressure wash, or sand - just a light application of soap and water will do.

Quite honestly, composite decking has no drawbacks whatsoever other than the high upfront cost. Guaranteed to last forever, textured with slip resistance as well, it’s simply the best option when considering materials for your brand new deck.