Outdoor decks have been around a long time, and if you haven’t ever owned one personally, you probably know someone who does. Decks are a great way to increase the functional square footage of your property, to open up new possibilities for entertaining, and to beautify and diversity the exterior of your home.
But despite the fact that outdoor decks are nothing new, they’ve actually changed a lot over the years. Designs have gotten more sophisticated and versatile, for one thing. Another important change is the materials available for outdoor decks. Your options used to be limited to certain hardwoods (cedar being one of the most popular) with natural antifungal and anti-insect properties. Then came the advent of pressure-treated lumber, which opened up new horizons, and allowed virtually any type of wood to be given a high degree of resistance to the natural elements.
The most recent step in the evolution of outdoor decks is the invention of composite materials, which further increased the number of options available to homeowners interested in building or resurfacing a deck. Composite lasts a lot longer than any type of natural hardwood, including pressure-treated lumber. It also virtually eliminates the need for period maintenance.
But which solution is actually better for you? Asking a few simple questions can help you find the right answer.
1. Do you want to eliminate maintenance requirements?
If you want the most hassle-free solution possible for your backyard deck, composite materials are far-and-away the best choice. Pressure-treated lumber needs to be treated and stained every two years or so, in order to maintain protection against the elements. Composite decking, because it is made of a combination of plastic and wood fibers, simply does not require this kind of protection. Once you install composite decking, the only real maintenance requirement is periodic cleaning. So if you want to eliminate maintenance requirements, composite is the way to go.
2. Do you want maximum longevity?
There’s no doubt that composite decking far outlasts natural wood decking, including lumber that has been pressure-treated. Depending on the exact brand of composite material used, homeowners can expect 25 to 30 years of regular use out of the deck. This is approximately 10 to 20 years longer than the average lifespan of a deck built from pressure-treated lumber. Granted, both materials offer a very long lifespan. But if it’s maximum longevity you’re after, composite again wins out.
3. Do you want the most “natural” look possible?
There are a couple of reasons why people choose pressure-treated lumber over composite, despite the important structural benefits of composite. One of these reasons is that composite, due to the presence of plastic, gets hotter in the sun. The second main reason is that natural wood, even when pressure-treated, still offers a more natural look and feel, according to many homeowners.
Finding the right builder or resurfacing specialist for your outdoor deck
Whether you’re looking to build a brand new deck or have your existing deck resurface, the decision on what materials to use (especially PT lumber versus composite) is an important part of the process. So is choosing a reliable and honest contractor with years of experience and proven skill in the industry. Be sure to ask plenty of questions, research reviews scores, and look for ironclad written guarantees before making your choice. Above all, enjoy your new or resurfaced deck!