The arrival of spring brings warm sunshine, longer days and a desire to spend more time outdoors. Canadian homeowners become busy preparing their yards for the season. You’re gardening, landscaping, building patios and decks to create an optimized outdoor living space the entire family can enjoy.
Whether you’re planning on building your deck yourself or hiring a deck builder, there are many options for building materials, structural design and add-ons. With several options for decking materials on the market, homeowners can choose between a natural wood, pressure treated wood, and manufactured composite and plastic decking. There are pros and cons of each option in regards to cost, appearance, durability and maintenance. These are all very important factors to consider when deciding which decking material will suite your needs the best.
Natural Wood Decking (Cedar)
Although tropical hardwoods have become options for decking building materials in Canada, the most popular real-wood decking material is cedar. You’ll love the way cedar decking looks and smells, giving your outdoor living space a rich and natural ambiance. Unlike other woods, cedar doesn’t absorb moisture as quickly providing a flat and straight decking surface that won’t warp and split.
Your cedar decking must be cleaned, sealed or stained in order to keep it from greying in the sun and losing its original colour. It’s a soft wood, so it can get gauges and scrapes easily from your patio furniture or barbeque. Without any maintenance your cedar deck will last about 10 years. It will last over 25 year with yearly maintenance including cleaning, sealing and periodic board replacement to remove any rough areas. Generally, cedar decking costs more than pressure treated lumber and less than composite decking.
Pressure Treated Decking
According to an article in Popular Mechanics, 75 percent of all new decks are covered with pressure-treated decking including the posts, beams, and joists. It is the most economical choice for Canadian home owners seeking a low-maintenance, affordable wood decking option. The chemicals in pressure-treated decking should deter rotting, fungus and bugs. To increase the lifespan of your pressure-treated deck consider giving it an annual clean with a power washer and giving it a coat of wood preserver or stain every few years.
Unfortunately, pressure-treated decking has a bad reputation for swelling, shrinking, splitting and warping. There are varying grades of treated wood and not all of them are equal. Ask about a premium or higher grade pressure-treated product and although you might pay a little more, your lumber will have fewer knots and a straighter grain which prevents warping in the long run.
Composite decking is the answer for homeowners who want a virtually maintenance-free deck. Most composite decking materials are made from a recycled plastic combined with wood chips or saw dust. This material will stand up in all weather without splitting or warping like pressure-treated or cedar decking. It will never require sanding or staining, and besides naturally fading from the sun, you can have your composite deck looking like new again with the occasional clean with soapy water.
Composite decking is the most expensive option. It comes in several natural colours and you could consider staining it after four to six months if you wanted the change.
Another option to consider is plastic decking. Unlike the wood fibres included in composite decking, this product is free of all fillers and is made 100 percent of plastic materials. It will never split or warm, requires no finishing. One downside is that most plastic decking comes in ‘kits’ which limits your options for design. Depending on what you prefer, some homeowners do not like the unnatural look of plastic and would prefer the maintenance trade-off for a more natural looking product. Plastic decking is more expensive than composite decking.
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