North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Choosing materials for decking

 

March 28, 2018 | View PDF

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There are a lot of options available when selecting decking material.

Warm weather often gives rise to thoughts about spending time in the great outdoors. Decks can expand outdoor living spaces, making them popular home additions. However, when it comes time to map out a deck building plan, individuals may be unsure as to which deck material will meet their needs. Wood and composite decks are among the most popular choices today, and the popularity of aluminum is growing steadily.

A couple of factors weigh into choosing a material for a new deck - how much money a homeowner can afford and how much time they're willing to give in maintaining their new deck.

E&E Lumber and Home Care Center in Marysville has been selling decking materials for 40-plus years - a lot of cedar decking, which is the least expensive material used in decks, but it does require some maintenance, said Brent Emory, vice president at E&E Lumber and Home Center in Marysville.

A homeowner would have to strip and re-stain a cedar deck, along with its pickets and railings every couple of years.

Another option is constructing a deck from a composite material, which is a combination of wood and plastic. Emory said Trex Decking is a great material for decks.

He said the materials of a composite deck have to be cleaned once a year, but the material is at least two times more expensive than wood.

Wood

Wood is a versatile and attractive decking material. According to the wood resource Real Cedar, some people think that wood is too expensive and requires too much maintenance. In fact, domestic softwoods can be very cost-effective decking options. According to Remodeling Magazine's "Cost vs. Value" report, wood decks retain considerable resale value.

In terms of maintenance, choosing a rot-resistant wood can result in less maintenance. Durable woods include cedar and redwood. Popular Mechanics says both species contain tannins and oils that make them naturally resistant to decay, rot and voracious insects. Periodic cleaning and inspection/repairs will be needed, but wood can be much more durable than people may think.

Composite

Composite decking and its close cousin, plastic lumber, are some of the fastest-growing decking materials on the market. Many products are made from polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride. Some composites will be comprised of recycled plastic and wood fibers to create a weather- and stain-resistant material that doesn't warp, rot or splinter. Composite manufacturers continually experiment with manufacturing processes to duplicate the look of natural wood grain.

Homeowners are often drawn to composite decking because such decks require little maintenance. These decks do not need to be sanded, stained or refinished. However, mold and mildew can grow in shady, damp areas, so homeowners must realize that these products are not completely maintenance-free.

Aluminum

Although aluminum decks are not seen that often, there are reasons why this decking material is becoming more popular. According to LockDry®, a manufacturer of aluminum decking materials, power-coated aluminum does not need to be replaced due to rotting, cracking or warped boards. Most planks have interlocking edges that create gap-free, watertight decks. Aluminum also has the advantage of being a very strong but lightweight material.

Some people may think that aluminum decks would be hot underfoot, but the material actually stays cool in the sun because of its heat-dissipation properties. For those who have green goals in mind, aluminum is totally recyclable.

Various decking materials can meet the look, price point and maintenance level homeowners desire.

Emory said E&E Lumber and Home Care Center in Marysville has a great display of decking materials located in the front of the store. People looking to install a new deck can see the available materials.

 

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