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Pros and Cons of each decking material (which is best for you)

Like all major purchases around your home there are many options you can look into when it comes to building a new or replacing an old deck. But which is the best fit for you? Each option comes with a range of pros and cons to consider in your purchase. Here I will list the most common options homeowners use in the GTA and Durham Region and their positives and setbacks.

Pressure treated or PT has been a favorite for many years. It is made from a soft wood that has been treated in pressurized tanks with preservatives that make it resistant to rot, decay and insects. The preservatives used over a decade ago had raised health concerns so the preservatives used in the industry now are very safe and more environmentally friendly. So that should not be an influencing factor in one’s purchase. The main benefit of using pressure treated wood is that it is the cheapest material that can be used for a deck. It also will require some maintenance such as staining or painting but not as much as other woods such as cedar. It will last a very long time up to 30 or 40 years. Another benefit to PT is that if you do have to replace a board it is easy to match the remaining deck by staining or painting, which cannot be done with a composite deck as will be discussed later. The disadvantages of PT are that it can warp and crack over time and it does require maintenance to keep it looking sharp. Pressure treated is best for those with a tighter budget for there deck or for those that really don’t mind the occasional yard work they will have to do to maintain it.

The next option is a natural wood deck. Now there are many options here that can be chosen however most of them are rarely used in our area due to availability and price. For instance ipé a Brazilian hardwood that looks and has the perfect feel for decks can be bought though it may be a challenge to find and it will run you more than four times the price of your pressure treated deck. A much more common option that is used here in the Toronto area is cedar.

Cedar is a favorite material for outdoor projects for its look, feel and scent. It is also cheaper than most of your synthetic products but will be more expensive than your pressure treated deck. Now the main downfall to a cedar deck is that it will require the most maintenance if you want to keep the look it had when you first purchased it. Cedar decks will require nearly yearly maintenance of sanding it down and re-finishing it to maintain its original look. These decks will also last the least amount of time of all the options lasting closer to the 20 year mark. If You chose not to maintain it will become a silver-gray colour over time. You can paint it which would reduce maintenance however that would make it look less natural, one of the main reasons of going with this option. This option is the best for those that really want a natural look for there deck or for those who are always looking for an excuse to do something outside.

Now the rest of the decking options are all synthetic the first being your traditional composite deck.

Composite decks are made up of wood chippings and recycled plastics. They often have a surface texture to resemble natural wood and have a texture that is similar to wood though it is distinctly different. The main benefits to a composite deck like all synthetic decks is that they are low maintenance. You have nothing you have to do to keep this deck looking good for years to come. This does sound perfect doesn’t it, however synthetic decks are much more expensive than wood decks, which is there main drawback. Some composite decks, in particular the ones that are darker colour can have their colour fade over time. Which to some may not be an issue however if you have to replace a board it can be obvious it does not match. Scratches on the surface of these do happen in particular from outdoor furniture. Choosing the right furniture for your deck can help you avoid having to replace boards and make that a much less likely issue. Composite decks are not resistant to mold or mildew especially in shade so every few years they will have to be cleaned to remove any that has started to build up. Though this will not be a very time consuming it is some maintenance that should be done to keep your deck looking the best. This is the best option for those that want low maintenance deck at the lowest possible cost.

The next option is another composite decking however it has an added viny layer around the whole board that makes it completely UV resistant and therefore it will not fade. It is slightly more expensive than the original composite. This is best for those people that are less worried about cost and mostly interested in the look and don’t mind their deck not made of natural products.

Lastly there are PVC decks that are purely synthetic. These decks are the only decks that are completely maintenance free. They can come in many different colours some resembling wood others do not. They are however a pricier option. This option is best for those that want to pay once for their deck and never have to worry about it again.

Daniel Hogenbirk

Landscape Foreman

Birk’s Landscaping Inc.

(905) 404-0602

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