With the snow finally melted, and patio season just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about your deck. Whether looking to re-finish, re-build, or start from scratch, there are many options to consider when determining what
type of material is the right choice to use…
With so many materials available for decking, it’s important to take some time to plan and research your options, before making a decision as to what’s right for your budget and your lifestyle. Some important things to consider are appearance,
durability/ maintenance & price.
In Canada, there are primarily 4 types of decking used in most residential applications – pressure treated wood, cedar, vinyl, and composite decking. Below, we break down the characteristics of each….
1) Pressure treated wood is the most commonly used lumbers available for deck construction. It is designed for long-term performance in outdoor applications and therefore requires high quality corrosion-resistant nails, screws, other fasteners,
hardware and any metal product. The preservative on pressure treated lumber resists the wood against fungal and insect decay, as well as moisture from exposure.
It can be found in a number of lumber grades, with varying degrees of knots and splits. Has a greenish or brownish hue but otherwise, resembles natural lumber. Pressure treated can be stained or painted to achieve a variety of looks, although you should wait for 6 months to 1 year after install to apply for the first time. Yearly re-application should follow with re-finishing every 3 years or so.
Price = $
2) Cedar is moderately soft and light weight, making it easy to work with and its heartwood is extremely decay resistant and exhibits little shrinkage. It is also naturally resistant to insect damage. The wood is generally straight grained and has a uniform but rather coarse texture. The heartwood of western red cedar is fragrant, reddish or pinkish brown to dull brown and the sapwood is nearly white. Cedar can be treated with water repellant stains to prolong its life or if the choice is made to leave it untreated, it will age to a silvery grey over time. It can also be stained a number of colors to suit all tastes.
Price = $$
3) Vinyl Decking is a sheet installed PVC material that is applied over a wood substructure, providing a waterproof membrane that prevents leaking to the area below. Great for walk outs or any porch surface that exists above living areas,
vinyl decking provides protection for leaking that occurs with typical plank installed wood products.
This synthetic product is available in an array of colors and patterns to suite all tastes, and is resistant to rot, shrinking, and damage from insects and the elements. Very little maintenance is required with vinyl decking although yearly cleaning is
recommended. Pressure washing or scrubbing with a mild detergent and water mixture is an effective way to remove dust,
and, with proper cleaning, this decking should last 15-20 years. Decking should be installed with a slight slope to prevent water from pooling.
Price = $$$
4) Composite is perhaps one of the newer products available for decking and is rapidly becoming one of the most desirable choices for those wishing to combine the look of natural lumber with the maintenance free benefits of a PVC product.
It’s available in a variety of patterns and color, emulating everything from more modern painted looks to traditional cedars and even exotic woods. The planks can either be traditionally installed with a standard screw down application, or
can also be used with concealed fasteners than remain hidden from view once installed. This provides a cleaner look overall as all you see is the boards themselves – not the hardware.
No stain or sealant is required on composite decking and it will not require re-finishing like natural lumbers. it’s recommended that the deck is hosed off with water periodically to prevent mold and mildew from forming and composite-specific deck cleaners are available at most home improvement stores. Scratching may occur but can often be reduced
or eliminated with either a MinWax type product or light wire brushing, depending on the type of composite installed
Price = $$$-$$$$