Choosing your garden decking material is probably the most important decision you’ll have to make when building a deck.
Different circumstances call for different types of decking, and each option has its own aesthetic appeal, maintenance requirements and other important considerations you should take into account when making your selection.
Deciding which decking material is right for you depends on both personal and practical tastes.
Types of Garden Decking
There are many types of garden decking materials, including wood, composites and exotic woods.
Before choosing a material to build your patio, it’s important to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as the maintenance required to keep your garden deck looking great for years to come.
Below are some of the most popular materials to choose from when building your deck, as well as factors that can help you narrow down your decision.
Garden Decking: Cedar Decking
Cedar is commonly considered a higher quality material than pressure treated wood.
This natural wood weathers to a soft grey tone over the years. It’s lightweight and easy to work with, making it an ideal material for DIY projects. Cedar also contains natural tannins that make it resistant to rot, infestation and decay.
One important difference when choosing cedar for decking is that you need to make sure the cedar you use is heartwood, not sapwood.
Heartwood is cut from the center of the tree and is much denser, while sapwood is the softer material on the outside of the tree. The extra density of the heartwood makes the wood more resistant to decay.
Similar to pressure impregnated lumber, cedar requires a certain amount of regular maintenance.
However, if you select high-quality cedar and have it refinished annually, you can expect your cedar decking to perform better than traditional pressure-treated wood decking. You can find cedar for about $9 – $11.50 per square foot.
PVC Garden Decking
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics come in many quality grades, but almost all are quite durable. High-quality PVC decking boards have almost none of the weak points of wood.
That means you don’t have to worry about sanding or staining plastics, which makes vinyl decking virtually maintenance-free.
Aesthetically, vinyl offers a wider range of options than ordinary wood. You can choose from brown, grey, white, tan, and even patterns that mimic the grain of wood.
Aesthetically, PVC offers a wider range of options than ordinary wood. You’ll find colour options in brown, grey, white, tan, or even patterns that mimic the grain of wood.
Solid PVC decking boards have been manufactured for over 20 years and have improved in both composition and aesthetics during that time. They’re also lighter than many synthetic decking boards, making them easier to move around the jobsite.
Some of the disadvantages of PVC decking boards are cost and recycled content.
Compared to wood, PVC decking boards are much more expensive, about $10 to $15 per square foot just for the garden decking material, depending on the manufacturer. As with any more durable building material, the higher material cost can be offset over time by the savings due to lower maintenance.
Finally, most PVC decking contains less recycled content than other synthetic decking materials (some PVC products are 100% virgin material).
This increases the carbon footprint and doesn’t necessarily result in higher quality decking.
Pressure Treated Wood for your Garden Deck
Among the different types of wood decking, pressure-treated wood is the most common. While not all wood is treated with the same chemicals, pressure-treated wood is infused with chemicals that contain insecticides and anti-rot properties, increasing its natural durability.
It’s also easy to find, easy to cut and generally easy to work with. If you don’t like the natural hue of your pressure-treated wood, a stain can remedy the situation and make it more aesthetically pleasing to your taste.
It’s usually recommended to let the deck weather for a few months before staining, and there are some advantages to sanding the deck before staining.
It’s also important to know that there are different grades of treated wood, and your local supplier can help you choose the one that’s right for your budget.
When comparing composites and wood decking, the most important difference is that ordinary wood tends to split, warp or crack. This can also be used for garden decking.
Pressure-treated wood also requires regular maintenance.
But with proper maintenance, such as washing down, sanding, and regular re-staining, you can extend the life of your pressure-treated deck. Pressure-treated wood is also quite affordable, available for about $3 to $6 per square foot.
Have you decided what kind of material you’ll choose for your garden decking?
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