Building or upgrading your deck (or dock) has many advantages, including increasing the value of your home and providing an enjoyable atmosphere for your recreational water activities. With a tremendous range of decking options, knowing what material is right for you can be a difficult process. To help you make a better-informed decision, please read below about the main types of decking available.
Pressure Treated Wood
As a choice for decking material, this is the least expensive type of decking. Chemically treated soft lumber is very affordable, and has been in use since the 1700’s. Pressure treating is a modern method of applying a chemical treatment. The lumber is widely available, easy to work with, and has the tensile strength necessary for a quality deck. The methods used in treatment have slowly evolved for several reasons:
- Less labor-intensive to produce
- Safer for the end-user
- Greater longevity under environmental conditions
There are three primary concerns for using pressure treated decking. First, it is susceptible to staining by spills or environmental contaminants. Second, it needs to be cleaned and stained or painted periodically. Finally, lumber tends to warp and splinter over time. Because of these factors, some dock owners are moving away from the use of pressure treated lumber.
Hardwoods are the next option for decking. Hardwoods can range from slightly more expensive than pressure treated lumber, to some of the most expensive materials available for decking. The huge variation in price comes from the species of wood being used. There are dozens of varieties of hardwood available. Some common hardwoods in the U.S. are:
Hardwood is not as susceptible to decay and splintering as pressure treated lumber. A single installation can last for decades without replacement. However, hardwood still needs to be protected from harsh environmental conditions. Staining or sealing needs to take place every few years, and more frequent cleaning is required to prevent the formation of mold or algae, which could affect the durability and safety of the deck.
Recycled material is a mid-range price option for decking. It is generally manufactured using recycled plastic and resins. Since this is a manufactured material, it is produced in a variety of textures and colors. The major benefits of this type of material are that it is environmentally friendly and a sustainable resource.
Unlike lumber, plastic materials are resistant to the environment. They will not splinter or warp, but may wear or break out over long periods of time or heavy use. Periodic cleaning is still necessary, but painting is a preference rather than a necessity. Because it is very low maintenance, the lack of cost-intensive repairs and upkeep offset the initial higher cost.
At the high end of composite decking, manufactured composites such as Trex® decking are the best. Quality composites are made to resemble an assortment of wood grains and other textures, and are available in a large range of colors, providing the most options for appearance. These composites are environmentally friendly, and some of the initial cost of the material is offset by the labor savings during installation.
Another perk of using Trex® decking is the outstanding 25-year manufacturer warranty that cannot be matched by other material options. Even though it requires cleaning every few years, the material is designed to be cleaned using ordinary soap and water, which reduces the cost of ownership over time.
Duncan Seawall, Dock and Boat Lift is an authorized Trex® Pro Platinum dealer, an award of excellence in the decking industry. If you are looking for a new dock, or simply need to have your existing dock repaired or upgraded, we would be happy to put our years of professional experience to work for you. To find out more about decking options or our other services, please contact us today.