Decks have traditionally been made from wood, and even now, the vast majority of decks are built from lumber. But in the last several years, there has been a shift to synthetics, including composite and PVC decking. The chief reason for this has been homeowners’ desire for low-maintenance.
Improved technology has led to reliable synthetic products that look just like wood, and the increased popularity of these is due chiefly to the fact that composite and PVD decks need only simple cleaning to keep their brand-new look. Wood requires periodic repainting or re-staining to retain its color and prevent rot.
From a cost standpoint, wood remains significantly cheaper than composite, however.
The current trend is toward smaller decks, as well as customized decking and a greater variety in choices for balusters and railings. There are additional options, as well: multi-levels, design insets, built-in benches and glass with deck boards as a top rail.
Many homeowners are now specifying newer tropical or exotic synthetic decking that emulates the look of tropical hardwood without the upkeep. Those who want real tropical hardwood but who have environmental concerns can select wood species that originate from well-managed and sustainable forest which operate under strict government guidelines.
Pressure treated wood has had preservative chemicals forced into the wood under pressure. This treatment extends the life of wood against decay and termite attack. It is available in a wide species including southern yellow pine, red pine, Douglas fir, eastern hemlock and sub-alpine fir, to name just a few. It is important to note, though, that because of the chemicals that pressure treated wood contain, they must be disposed of properly and never burned.
Whether to install synthetic deck materials or wood decking depends on the homeowner’s budget, how the deck will be used, and personal preference. As when you undertake any remodeling or repair job, a little up-front research will produce the best long-term results.
(with information gleaned from “Inside Out,” by Jean Feingold, in Professional Remodeler Magazine)