Outdoor Decking Materials 

Two Options for Outdoor Decking

There are basically two materials to choose from when buying outdoor decking: wood decking or synthetic decking and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Wood Decking

Outdoor decking can be made from just about any kind of wood.  Redwood, western red cedar, and ironwood are popular choices because they are naturally insect resistant, while pine is less expensive, but not quite as durable. 

When choosing wood for outdoor decking, durability and cost are the biggest factors.

Advantages of Wood Decking:

  • wood decking has a beautiful, natural appearance - an ideal material for porch decking 
  • it is easy to work with
  • it is durable - a properly-maintained wood deck can last for fifteen or twenty years
  • it is readily available
  • it is less expensive than synthetic decking.

Disadvantages of Wood Decking:

  • decking made of wood rots over time when exposed to moisture
  • some woods, like redwood, are less susceptible to rot than other materials, and keeping the wood treated and sealed helps prevent rot, but eventually, all wood will rot
  • termites and carpenter ants love outdoor decking made from wood (some woods, such as redwood and cedar, are more naturally insect resistant)
  • outdoor decking made of wood must be maintained for it to last 
  • it has to be cleaned and all mold, and mildew has to be removed with a bleach solution, and it has to be sealed periodically to make it more water-resistant
  • wood, especially soft or uncured wood, can warp when exposed to weather, as it is in outdoor decking

One environmental advantage of wood decking is that we are using wood, which is a renewable resource, rather than a synthetic material which is oil-based.  Using timber grown and harvested in managed forests helps reduce the environmental impact of outdoor decking made from wood.

Synthetic Decking

Outdoor synthetic decking can be made from either plastic or composite materials.  Plastic decking is usually made from recycled plastic, and composite decking is made from recycled plastic and wood scraps.

Advantages of Synthetic Decking:

  • outdoor decking made of composite materials looks and feels remarkably like wood
  • synthetic decking is an environmentally-friendly option, because it is made from recycled materials that would otherwise end up in landfills
  • outdoor decking made from synthetic materials is nearly maintenance-free and requires only cleaning
  • it never needs sealing, painting, or staining

Disadvantages of Synthetic Decking:

  • outdoor decking made of synthetic materials may sag in high temperatures
  • over time exposure to the sun can make plastic decking brittle
  • synthetic decking has to have a sturdy, usually wood, frame and foundation because it is not sturdy enough to use for weight-bearing supports. 
  • wood and synthetics expand and contract at different rates with heat and other weather conditions, which can result in the warping and popping of fasteners
  • synthetic decking is slightly more expensive than wood decking

Outdoor decking can be made of either wood or synthetics, and both have advantages and disadvantages.   Compare the available products, and you will find the one that works best for your deck.

outdoor deckingInstalling Your Decking

It is perfectly possible to build and lay your own DIY decking with proper planning and a DIY decking kit. Building and laying your own garden decking can actually be a relatively simple task.









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