The first big question you have to ask when building a deck is, “What is the best deck material for me?” You may start off asking what the best deck material is, but you’ll quickly realize that the “for me” is the most important part of that question.  The answer depends on where you live, your budget, your design aesthetic, how much maintenance you are willing to do, and more.

In this article, we are going to discuss the pros and cons of deck materials that are most popular today.

Pros and Cons of Decking Materials

The four basic types of deck materials are natural wood, tropical hardwoods, composite, and aluminum. Each type of deck material comes with its own price tag, aesthetics, and maintenance requirements.

  1. Natural Wood Decks

Cedar and redwood are by far the most popular natural wood decks. Both are naturally resistant to rot and insects, but the wood will lose color over time and may splinter. Stain and sealer are recommended to prevent gray coloring, splintering, and cracking.

Pros of Natural Wood

  • Natural beauty
  • Natural resistance to rot and insects

Cons of Natural Wood

  • Not widely available in some regions
  • Requires re-staining and sealing every two to three years
  • May splinter, crack, or lose color if not properly maintained

Price of Natural Wood Decking

Cedar is more readily available nationwide and costs around $2 to $4 per square foot. Redwood is more available on the west coast, and its pricing tends to increase the farther east you go. Redwood costs about $5 to $7 per square feet.

  1. Tropical Hardwood Decking

The list of deck material types has greatly expanded with the addition of tropical hardwoods. Tropical hardwoods live up to their name with exotic beauty and very hard, durable wood. The most common tropical hardwoods are massaranduba, cumaru, ipe, tigerwood, garapa, and cambara. Sustainability comes into question when working with tropical hardwood. The best practice is to check that the tropical hardwood product you want is FSC certified or from a sustainable source.

Pros of Tropical Hardwood

  • Natural beauty
  • Extremely durable due to hardness
  • Natural resistance to rot and insects

Cons of Tropical Hardwood

  • Not widely available
  • Difficult to cut, install, and stain
  • Will fade without stain

Cost of Tropical Hardwood

Some tropical hardwood prices are comparable to redwood, but the prices tend to go up from there. Depending on the type of tropical hardwood, you can expect to pay $8 to $12 per square foot for material. Labor is also usually more expensive since it is more difficult to work with.

  1. Composite Decking

Composite decking is quickly climbing the ranks of preferred decking materials. It is a humanmade material using wood fibers and recycled plastic. Since it is mostly plastic, it is very durable and requires minimal maintenance. There is such a wide range of available products that the prices can vary significantly.

Pros of Composite Decking

  • Very durable
  • Minimal maintenance
  • No need to stain or refinish
  • Come in a wide range of colors

Cons of Composite Decking

  • Lacks natural beauty
  • Prices vary widely

Price of Composite Decking

There is quite a wide range when it comes to composite decking. Some can be as low as $6 per square foot, while others are around $10. The pricing is comparable to natural wood, but it is easier to install and maintain than its natural cousin.

  1. Aluminum Decking

Aluminum has been a popular roofing material for decades, but it’s just recently gaining traction as a decking material. You might think that a metal deck would be slippery and hot, but the opposite is true with aluminum. Heat is naturally dissipated with this decking material, just like the aluminum foil you use for cooking food in your oven.

Pros for Aluminum Decking

  • Extremely durable, even in freezing weather
  • Doesn’t rot, rust, warp, or crack
  • Wood-boring bugs aren’t interested
  • 100% recyclable
  • Easy to cut, install, and maintain

Cons for Aluminum Decking

  • Lacks natural beauty

Cost of Aluminum Decking

Aluminum deck material also has a wide price range. It can be as low as $6 but can jump to $9 per square foot. Special fasteners are required, though the material is easy to cut and install.

What is the Best Decking Material for Me?

Hopefully, this list of the pros and cons of decking materials has helped you answer this question. As you can see, the right deck material comes down to how much you want to spend, how much maintenance you want to do, and your personal taste. But there is one thing we can all agree on: a beautiful deck adds to the enjoyment of your home.

Pro Complete Homes serves the Seattle area and would be happy to assist you further. Contact us today for a free quote.

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