Until a few years ago, there were two choices in decking materials – cedar and green treated pine. Today there are all kinds of materials from which to build a deck. Upon installation, cedar and green treated pine are good-looking. Both materials are resistant to decay in time. However, cedar and green treated pine are susceptible to graying, checking, and cracking. Also, they are magnets for dirt. Decks of cedar and green treated lumber require staining annually to maintain their appearance. Many homeowners hate the maintenance necessary to keep cedar and green treated pine from looking dirty and gray year after year. Several products have become available to grant homeowners reprieve from this maintenance.
One option homeowners now have is metal decking and balusters. Decking, railings, balusters, and even spiral stairways are constructed of powder coated metal. Most metal decking material is made of aluminum, but some manufacturers make decking from steel. Whatever metal the decking is made from, it is then powder coated to one of hundreds of colors. Aluminum decking materials and installation are quite expensive, but it truly is maintenance-free.
A more economical choice for decking than metal is wood composite material. Most wood composite material is made of a combination of recycled plastic and wood fibers. Each manufacturer offers a few popular colors. While composite material is quite a bit more expensive than wood, the installation cost is not appreciably more. Homeowners who opt to have a deck with composite decking and railing should know that composite material is not truly maintenance-free. Composite material is susceptible to staining, and if improperly installed, it may crack where fasteners are placed.
Because of the flexibility and wide range of decking products available in today’s market, a homeowner may choose to mix and match materials used in the construction of a deck. The deck may be framed with treated lumber, decked with composite decking, and an aluminum rail system applied. As with any other part of a home, the homeowner must weigh pros and cons of each product and factor budget constraints into the decking material decision.