Thinking about replacing your deck or building a new one? With so many choices it is hard to know which is right for you. If you use composite as opposed to pressure-treated pine to build your deck, here are the questions you should be asking yourself. How long will it last? Is the extra cost involved in your up-front composite decking investment worth it, or should you spend less initially for a pressure-treated pine deck? Which deck material requires more maintenance and money over time? Is one type of material better for the environment, and what do you need to know about fire rating and weather-resistance?
Wooden decking material is by far the cheapest option on the market and will always be popular because of that. However, wooden decks are susceptible to rot, mold, insect damage, and splintering. In order to keep those problems at bay, you’ll need to repaint or restain your wooden deck every few years. Based on their price point, though, wood decks can be the best decking material for some homeowners. Also, unless the lumber was treated with special fire-resistant chemicals, it has a lower fire rating than other materials.
It is important to note that in many cases, in the long run a wood deck will cost more than a composite or PVC because of the cost of the maintenance required.
Composite decking looks similar to traditional lumber. However, composite decking boasts many artificial decking material advantages that make it easier to own. For example, composite decking doesn’t splinter, and it never needs to be re-painted or re-stained to prevent mold and rot. In addition, composite decks will never splinter while maintaining structural integrity greater than traditional lumber. These maintenance-free advantages make this a popular deck material option.
Not all composite decking materials are equal though. For a composite board to last, it needs to have a good cap to protect the recycled material in the core of the board from swelling and rotting from moisture that may enter.
Also, some of the composite deck boards themselves are somewhat sensitive to being scratched from daily use and to fading in direct sunlight.
Fire safety greatly depends on the material being used. It is usually rated between C class and A class, where C offers average protection and A offers much greater fire resistance.
PVC decking, in general, is more expensive than other types of decking materials. However, its less prone to fading than composite decking and generally will not scratch or stain. It is not susceptible to molding, rotting, or insect damage. Same as composite decking, PVC decking is extremely easy to take care of. However, one of the biggest drawbacks of PVC decking is the fact that most styles don’t look realistic. Also, PVC decking is not DIY-friendly compared to other decking materials and installation mistakes can be a lot more costly. As far as fire safety goes, PVC offers the best fire protection with a class A designation.