Here at Carefree Decks and Patio Covers in Denver, Colorado, we want you to share your choices for deck building materials. Having at least a general working knowledge of the decking material options out there will help you make an informed decision and settle on the perfect material for your decking needs.
We understand that cost is a big factor. Choosing the best quality, most beautiful materials out there usually requires a heftier investment. However, something to keep in mind when choosing a material is that while some options are more expensive initially, cheaper materials end up costing a lot more in maintenance costs within just a few years – and will generally have to be replaced more often.
For example, cedar and redwood (both softwoods) have been popular for years as decking materials and are not too expensive. However, they require cleaning and resealing each year, the cost of which can add up over time. Composite decking can initially cost a bit more, but with the savings in maintenance costs over time it can end up being significantly cheaper.
Now let’s take a look at some common decking materials and discuss some of their pluses and minuses. The information supplied here will help with your choice, but you can always speak to one of our experts for more detailed information.
Pressure-treated wood consists of fir treated with chemicals intended to reduce rotting and insecticides to discourage insect infestations. This helps eliminate some of the traditional problems with wood decking. This is a relatively low-cost option, and though it comes in one basic color, wood stains can be used to customize the look a little. It is a hardy deck building material that will last for years as long as it is properly maintained with a new coat of stain or clear sealant approximately every other year.
Cedar is a wood popular for its natural beauty. It is also on the inexpensive side but must be refinished yearly in order to reach its life expectancy of around 20 years. There are two types that you should be on the lookout for, heartwood and sapwood. Sapwood is less hardy and can rot within a few years, so the darker colored heartwood is a better choice.
Redwood is also a wood prized for its looks and makes a gorgeous outdoor deck. Unlike cedar, however, it is more on the expensive end of things. It has also become rarer and is generally only available on the West Coast. There are also heartwood and sapwood varieties, with heartwood being the more durable choice. A well-cared for redwood deck can be expected to last a maximum of 20 years.
Vinyl, or PVC, decking is a newer option that has been gaining popularity. It does tend to be on the more expensive side, but a great benefit is that it requires little to no maintenance and usually comes with a 25-year warranty. If you plan to be in your house for several years, the lack of maintenance costs (and the work required) can make that initial investment in this deck material very worth it.
Composite decking is a material made by mixing wood fibers with recycled polyethylene. This type of decking offers the natural beauty of wood decking while minimizing the drawbacks. You can choose from several different colors and textures designed to simulate various types of wood. Planks can even be bent with specialized equipment to create attractive inlaid designs and add a unique touch to your deck. It can come with up to a 25-year warranty and while maintenance is minimal, a thorough cleaning every 3 or 4 years will limit mold and rotting problems.
Ipe is a hardwood that comes from South America. It is highly prized as a beautiful wood that is much more resistant to decay than the other varieties we’ve mentioned. Its durability comes at a price, however, as the hardness of the wood makes installation much more challenging. The wood itself is pretty expensive as it has to be imported and the price can vary significantly. To maintain its beauty, it needs to be sealed once a year and a well-cared for deck can last up to 25 years.
As we’ve mentioned, when looking at your choices for deck building materials, don’t let just the initial cost drive your budgeting decisions. Maintenance costs can vary widely, and because Colorado has some pretty wild and severe weather, you can expect that maintenance to cost a bit more than average. You might think that you can save money by skimping or stretching the time between re-sealing or re-staining but that can end up costing more as the work required becomes more extensive.
A few new forms of decking are beginning to enter the market, but have yet to show off their long-term results. These include aluminum (which is coated with a substance to eliminate the “ping” sound), wood infused with glass to help lower its maintenance, and thermally cured wood which is also designed to be more resilient and better resist insects, fungus and mold.
All in all, there are quite a few options for decking materials available on the market today. We’ve focused mainly on durability and cost when discussing these materials, but keep in mind the style as well. Your choices for deck building materials will create a different overall look, and you want to choose something that matches the style of your home and adds the right kind of atmosphere. That helps to increase the value of your home for when you sell. Aesthetics are paramount, and a little bit higher initial investment could be worth it in the long run.
To learn more about your choices for deck building materials, don’t be afraid to ask the friendly professionals here at Carefree Decks and Patio Covers. We’ve had over 20 years of experience building custom decks in the Denver area, so we are well acquainted with the climatic rigors of this area and which materials are the best options. Take a moment to look through the gallery on our website, and you will see the excellent work we provide.