Being able to sit outside on a beautiful summer day on your own deck is a true pleasure.
If you’re thinking about putting up a deck for your home this year, there are a few things about decking materials and accessories you need to know so you can make the right choices.
“The biggest thing right now is to preplan your build,” says Joe Brough, a buyer for Big C Lumber. “It can take 6 to 8 weeks to get some materials in, so it helps if you know what you want ahead of time.”
Our experts at Big C Lumber have put together this guide to get you started on the right path so you can have your best summer yet on your very own deck. Here’s what you need to know about decking materials so you can get your deck built ASAP.
WOOD VS COMPOSITE VS METAL
The type of material you choose to make your deck from is likely to be the biggest decision you make.
From treated lumber to cedar to composites and to aluminum, there are a lot of choices on the market.
“The big difference between your treated lumber and your cedar ends up being the cost,” says Brough. “If you maintain your deck, it’ll last a long time regardless of the material.”
Wood-like treated lumber tends to be a slightly lower-grade quality — you’ll find more knots and cracks in the material — than woods such as cedar or redwood, but they’re made to withstand rot and mold. There’s a reason that around 80 percent of decks built in the United States are from pressure-treated lumber.
A second factor that may come into play in your decision of decking materials is availability.
“We’re even having trouble sourcing some materials,” say Brough. “Things like cedar and the exotic woods are really hard to find right now.”
Cedar, redwood, and tropical woods all look nice and will last a long time with less maintenance, but the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has caused supply shortages and difficulty sourcing materials. Brough says that it may not be until the second quarter of 2021 before he’s able to get cedar in for decking.
Composites — synthetic material made from wood fiber and recycled plastic — are rapidly becoming a viable option for many consumers. This material won’t warp or splinter and insects and rot have zero effect, making it very low in maintenance.
“Some of the composite manufacturers have warranties on their products for 50 years,” says Brough. “There’s a higher upfront cost, but you don’t have any maintenance costs so you save in the long term.”
Metal decking — like aluminum — is also a decking option, though it’s more often seen in commercial or industrial applications. Aluminum decking is weatherproof and, like composite decking, is undamaged by rot, rust, and insects. However, metal decking requires specialty fasteners and can require additional support structures.
RAILING AND BALUSTERS
The variety of railing and balusters are as wide as the decking material itself. But just because you’ve chosen treated lumber for your decking material doesn’t mean you need to use it for your entire deck.
“A lot of folks are using aluminum railing and balusters right now,” says Brough. “It can be round balusters or square balusters. We’re seeing a lot of people choosing vertical and horizontal cable wiring.”
One of the benefits of choosing metal balusters over their wooden counterparts is that they’re going to last significantly longer with less maintenance. While wooden balusters have a traditional look, they’re prone to the same issues as all wood and will eventually wear out.
Your balusters can always be replaced and updated, too, so you can always change your mind down the road.
THINK BIG C
If you’re planning a deck-building project this summer, our talented staff at Big C Lumber can walk you through the process and get you sunning yourself in the backyard in no time.
Whether you’re starting a whole new project or fixing or repairing an old one, we’re here to help.