Tips for selecting the right decking material for your outdoor living space

(BPT) – When you’re designing and building a dream outdoor living space, you have more options than ever. But how do you know which material is best for your home? The good news is that you don’t need a degree in deck building to master the differences between the various types of decking materials and selecting the best one for your needs.

Consider this comparison of today’s building materials a crash course to get you up to speed and enjoying a new deck in no time.

Composite – The newest generation of composite decking offers a superior combination of beauty and performance thanks to significant advances made in fade- and stain-resistance. Offering a best-of-both-worlds scenario for homeowners who love the beauty of real wood coupled with the low-maintenance of engineered products, high-performance composite decking like Trex Transcend resists fading, staining, scratching and mold growth, and needs only a simple soap and water cleaning to keep a like-new appearance. While a bit more pricey board-by-board compared to other options these costs are easily recouped over the lifetime of the deck due to the lack of required ongoing staining and repair. High-performance composite deck boards are available in a variety of rich, nature-inspired colors, from coastal greys to streaked, tropical shades that mirror the look of exotic hardwood – without the environmental impact. Trex decking, for instance, is made from 95 percent recycled materials, including wood scraps and plastic film. Backed by a 25-year Limited Fade and Stain Warranty, these products offer an ideal option for eco-minded consumers seeking ultra-low maintenance and long-lasting beauty.

PVC – Plastic vinyl decking requires little maintenance, and won’t warp, crack or splinter like traditional woods. However, it rarely offers the aesthetic appeal of a wood or composite deck. Additionally, PVC decking can take on a chalky texture and boards tend to squeak with age.

Pressure-treated lumber – Pressure treated wood is one of the most common types of decking and remains popular due to its initial low cost. However, most pressure-treated wood is quick to splinter and prone to warping and decay. Once you factor in the required annual maintenance, including cleaning, sanding, staining and replacement of decayed boards, the ongoing costs can quickly add up. In addition, this material requires the heavy sourcing of lumber, which can contribute to deforestation, and the pressure-treating chemicals used to enhance it are potentially toxic.

Redwoods – These California woods contain natural defenses against rot and insects, and can last up to 20 years or more, but they are soft and easily damaged by foot traffic. Like all natural lumber, Redwoods also are vulnerable to sun damage and prone to fading. Without regular, vigilant staining and maintenance, the natural color of these woods will fade to gray over time. Sustainability also is an issue due to limited redwood growth sites and slow regeneration.

Ipe – Ipe hardwoods originate from countries in Central and South America, where the environment has made them naturally durable and resistant to insects and decay. However, ipe is quite heavy, making it difficult to work with – and its high cost, along with the environmental impact of sourcing, is enough to dissuade many homeowners from this option.

For more information on decking materials, including a side-by-side comparison of popular options, visit


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