Selecting Decking for Your Home

Harwood-DeckSelecting decking materials begins with choices between wood, plastic or composite material. Aside from cost, aesthetics like appearance and comfort are major considerations.

Plastic decking can be made of new or recycled plastic and won’t splinter, warp or crack and doesn’t need finishing. It is also stain resistant.

Composite decking is usually composed of sawdust, recycled plastic bags or bottles and glue. It is a dense material that resists stains and weathering and will not rot.

Wood buyers tend to gravitate to a choice between hardwoods like ipe, cedar, bamboo and redwood or possibly cedar or pressure treated pine.

Generally speaking, depending upon where you live, relative cost factors will run from low to high in this order:

  • Pressure-treated wood
  • Cedar
  • Composite
  • Redwood
  • Premium plastic
  • Ipe

Reflect on the climate you live in and think about how you will use your new deck. If you live in a hot, dry climate, then think about padding around with bare feet on a composite or plastic deck on a bright summer day which will be like walking on a sidewalk at high noon. A light color will tend to reflect the heat and also test the effectiveness of your sun glasses as they catch the reflected rays.

In this climate, you may choose a lighter wood like treated Southern yellow pine which will not absorb the heat as much as darker tropical woods which stand up to wear and tear very well and resist weathering. Depending on the orientation of your house on the lot, you may have the choice of locating your deck away from peak sun light exposure which minimizes the heat factor and may bring other factors into your selection process.

If you live in a damp, warm climate, mold and mildew become important factors and mitigate against the selection of plastic and composite materials that have a special attraction to these unwelcome additions to your finish.

Truly Maintenance free is not an option! At a minimum, your deck finish will need attention at least once a year. A wood deck will need a fresh stain or oil after a good cleaning and artificial surfaces will likewise need a good scrubbing and a new finish to maintain appearance.

With regard to relative density and strength of each choice, support framing will be designed accordingly. Think about who you are and your life style as you consider selection possibilities. If your career path keeps you on the move every few years, another five or ten years of forecast durability may not be as important as other features which will add comfort and enjoyment to your deck experiences.

For deck ideas and inspiration, visit the top decking companies:

Premium Hardwood Canada –
Trex –
Timbertech –