All Decked Out and Nowhere To Go But My Backyard

Apr 10, 2009 |  by  |  Craftsman Archives  |  Share

I have driven through some newer neighborhoods and consistently noticed that there was a missing element from the backyards that I could see into.  Majority of them had no decks of any kind. A small cement pad is deck3 300x225 All Decked Out and Nowhere To Go But My Backyardmostly what I have seen.  Who wants to try to host a dinner on a stoop? How blah and boring!  There is just something about having a deck that makes things feel warm and inviting while entertaining family and friends. Not just anything can be used in building one though. You will want to make sure that your decking material is right for your climate and weather conditions to make it last for many years of enjoyment.  The following 7 types of decking materials will give you a better idea of what is available and how to go about choosing what will work best for your needs and budget.

Type 1 – Pressure Treated
Pressure treated wood can last for up to 30 years, but you have to be very diligent in its upkeep. Pine that has been preserved with Chromated copper arsenate (CCA) has been phased out by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). There are alternative treatments that are used which include copper azole(CBA) or alkaline copper quatenary(ACQ).  When chemicals are forced into the wood, they  become more insect and fungus-resistant.  This kind of decking needs to be maintained regularly, so it should be washed at least once a year using a power washer or deck wash and then finish it off with a preservative sealer. If you are not big into all of the chemical aspect of this type of decking, you may be interested in one of the other types of material. This is one of the least expensive ways of building a deck, but also seems to require the most chemicals for production and maintenance. Cost is also a huge plus or minus when buying materials.  Because of the change in chemicals, this results in a price increase of 10-20%.   but you can guess-timate that pressure-treated wood will be anywhere between$1.20-$2* per square foot, uninstalled.

Type 2 – Redwood/Cedar
Both of these are a beautiful addition to any home and the smell of the Cedar is wonderful. They are both very dense woods and naturally resist insects and decay. To boost its durability, apply a mildewcide and an ultraviolet inhibitor.   Redwood can be redwood deck2 All Decked Out and Nowhere To Go But My Backyardexpensive, at around $2-$4* per square foot, uninstalled.  It is fire-resistant and can take paint and stains well. Cedar weathers to a very nice silvery gray color and both woods are soft, which makes them very prone to denting and marring. Decks made of these two materials have a life of up to 20 years or more, depending on how well they are maintained.  Just like a pressure treated deck, these need to be washed at least once a year using a pressure washer or deck wash and sealed with a preservative sealer.

Type 3 – Wood/Plastic Composite
These are made by mixing plastic resin or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) with wood flour (or sawdust) and extruded into planks in various colors and textures. The darker colors may start showing signs of weathering if you compare new to aged samples.  One of the great things about composites is that they cut like wood but they don’t rot, shrink, splinter or warp. Sound to good to be true, right? Well, it’s not. These decks give you freedom from an aching back and sore hands. They don’t need to be painted or stained yearly, which eliminates the need for harsh chemicals. All that is needed for maintenance is soap and water, household detergent or a deck cleaner.  The one thing this material cannot be used for is a structural support (beams or joists). The price on this is fairly competitive at around $1.75-$4.75* per square foot, uninstalled. I think this price is great, considering these decks are nearly maintenance free. The lifespan of these decks is anywhere from 10 years to life.

Type 4 – Vinyl
Vinyl is another decking material that should last a lifetime. The vinyl cap products need to be replaced about every 30 years. Vinyl does not require any staining or sealing and can be cleaned with a power washer. To remove any mildew, just use a mild bleach solution. Extruded vinyl comes in white, gray, or tan.  Some brands are simply a vinyl cap over wood boards and others have blind fastening systems. If vinyl decking All Decked Out and Nowhere To Go But My Backyardyou are building any type of deck that needs support beams, these cannot be used as such. Wood structural supports must be used in place of. They have interlocking planks which channel water and help to keep your decks puddle-free.  Slip-resistance is added by diamond-grid and other types of tread designs. The price of this material runs anywhere from $4-$7* per square foot, uninstalled.

Type 5 – Rubber Composite
The colors are few, but nice to look at. Being offered in terra-cotta, gray and black, they make a rich contrast to the house colors. These planks are made by mixing polyethylene resins and recycled tires. This heavy manufactured board was first used in commercial projects and has slowly made its way into the residential side of building. The downside of rubber composite is that it is not widely available, which means you may have to look long and hard to locate it.  The lifespan on this type of material is about 25 years. The only cleaning and maintenance  is with water and you don’t even need to schedule it once a year, just clean it  when it gets too dirty for your liking.  This decking can run you anywhere from $1.50-$4* per linear foot, uninstalled.

Type 6 – Plastic
With several colors to choose from, this decking comes in your standard dimensional lumber sizes. If you plan on building an elevated deck, this material must have wood structural supports. Plastic is almost as durable and high quality as the wood/plastic composite. The only difference is that it cannot take extreme cold or heat. With its make-up being  some recycled Polystyrene, it is then extruded into plastic plastic decking All Decked Out and Nowhere To Go But My Backyarddecking. The Redwood and cedar colors available look much warmer than the wood/plastic composite shades. The cost on this decking is between $2-$6* per linear foot, uninstalled. Being plastic, it should last you up to about 50 years and needs only periodic cleaning with water.

Type 7 – Metal
The final type of decking material is metal. These planks are made of aluminum alloy and are manufactured in lengths of up to 28 feet.  Manufacturers offer up to four colors. If you are choosing to do an upper level deck or balcony, this material works well due to the interlocking planks which form a watertight seal. Aluminum alloy is very strong, and because of this, it allows joists 24-30 inches on center, which is far from the usual 16 inches. The only downside is that it is susceptible to temperature extremes and is, like the rubber composite, not widely available. If you do come across metal planks, it should last you a lifetime with very little effort needed in the maintenance department. Only occasional cleaning with water is required.  Price on this is around $3.50-$4* per linear foot, uninstalled.

All in all, adding a deck to your property will essentially add value to your home, and will be a wonderful place that you will want to spend much of your time.  One last tip- With my husband being quite the seasoned builder he is, and the fact that he has worked in the construction industry for almost 20 years, he has worked with many types of building materials. By his experience in the decking division, he would highly recommend anyone to build with the wood/plastic composite decking.  It can be used in all climates and is durable in every extreme kind of temperature. It also looks great and is probably the best buy for your buck.

I have listed some great resources for more detailed decking information to help you on your journey to making the best of your backyard.

*All prices vary by grade, region and season

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1 Comment

  1. Even though my site is mainly fencing and railing products, I think the vinyl products are the best value for the money. It has taken me some time to warm up to it, but some of the products out there look like wood and never have to be stained or painted.


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