A deck refers to a flat surface that supports weight like a floor, but is usually constructed outdoors. It is typically made higher than the ground and linked to a building.
Decks can be used in several ways but are normally designed for extending living parts of homes and as substitutes of stone based structures like patios. If you are considering construction of decks, you may be stymied by the sheer number of decking materials.
Not so long ago, the main choice of decking materials was only wood with a few species. But today, there is a dizzying variety of decking materials in the market thanks to the explosion of hardwood imports, plastic decking and composite lumber.
Here are the main types of decking material:
Lumber That Is Pressure-Treated
In spite of all the competition, this regular wood with green tint is still the most popular decking material retailed currently. In fact, 75% of all fresh decks are fashioned out of Pressure Treated (PT) lumber.
Little wonder that PT lumber is so popular: it is inexpensive, easily available as well as easy for cutting and fastening with screws or nails. Majority of PT decking is sourced from pine (southern yellow species) which is then chemically treated for resisting wood-boring bugs, fungus and rot.
The disadvantage is that PT lumber is not that stable as it is prone to warping, splitting and cracking. Also, routine maintenance like yearly power washing and application of wood or stain preservative every 3 years is necessary for longevity of the deck.
Cedar and Redwood
These are two types of decking materials with close similarity. They are durable, insect resistant and less prone to decay. They are decking materials which are fire resistant and easy to paint, stain or seal. Redwood particularly will last for 20 years.
Both wood materials are susceptible to denting and marring, though they have a gorgeous surface for decking. For extending longevity of the wood, it must be washed at least once a year. One another type of wood for decking is spotted gum decking.
But the bug and weather resistance of wood depends on the heartwood content of the material. Heartwood is found closer to the centre of the tree and is highly resistant to decay. But cedar and redwood decking cost 3 times that of PT lumber. For retaining their colour, a stain must be applied lest the wood turns into silvery gray.
Plastic lumber or its cousin composites are the fastest growing materials for decking currently. Most products are created from polyvinyl chloride and polyethylene. They come in an extensive range of colours.
The composites such as timber tech, and Trex, etc. are composed mainly of recycled plastic and wood fibres. The result is a highly stain and weather resistant board which does not split, rot, warp or splinter.
Plastic lumber is made of 100% plastic; it lacks wood fibres. It is also resistant to decay and staining and free of splinters, cracks and knots.
Composites and plastics are very low maintenance and do not ever need to be stained, refinished or sanded. But some care is required as mildew and mould can grow in damp, shady area of the decks.
These are the major types of decking materials. There are many more like aluminium and tropical hardwoods. Your choice will depend mainly on durability and cost.