Decking options

We are living in a time of abundant choices. Paint comes in thousands of colors and even buying wood can be challenging as there are several different varieties. So it shouldn’t be surprising that decking options have grown dramatically over the past several years. It wasn’t that long ago that the only choice you had for your deck was wood, which perhaps came in two or three types. However due to an explosion of composite lumber, plastic decking and hardwood imports there’s now a dizzying array of decking available. In this article we will discuss each options pros, cons, and recommendations in order to help you determine which material is best to fit your decking needs.


Pressure-Treated Wood
Pros: It is economical and plentiful. PT wood can last around 15 years when properly treated with a water repellent every two years.
Cons: If you use southern yellow pine it will crack and splinter as it dries. If Left untreated some PT wood turns muddy grey. In addition PT preservative chemical residue may cause health problems.
Recommendations: Consider PT wood that is factory-treated with water repellent such as Hickson’s Thompsonized PT and Osmose’s Armor All PT. You can also get prestained PT such as Osmose’s Woodshades which comes in three colors. If you want less toxic alternatives ACQ Preserve with UltraWood water repellent and Kodiak lumber are both good choices as they are preserved without arsenate, and are backed for life against termites, decay and fungi.



Redwood and Cedar
Pros: Redwood and cedar has glowing color, attractive straight grains and a natural resistance to decay and insects. The wood can also be left untreated to weather naturally and the life span is more than 20 years.
Cons: Both options are expensive. Redwood sapwood which is the newer wood closer to the bark rots when exposed for sustained periods to moisture and cedar sapwood breaks down quickly in moist conditions.
Recommendations:  Clear heart, clear, B heart and B grade redwood are all fine for lower budgets. If you want to go with cedar clear all heart is the premium choice. Good lower cost alternatives include appearance grade and No. 1 select tight knot (STK).



Tropical Hardwood
Pros: Now more widely available, ipe (E-pay) is a durable teaklike tropical hardwood sold as Ironwood or Pau Lope (pow LOW-pay). It is twice as strong as oak and is more durable than redwood and cedar. It has a life span of at least 40 years and is resistant to insects and decay. Ironwood is backed by a 25-year transferable warranty, while Pau Lope comes with a 20-year limited warranty. All grades are virtually knot-free and have tight grain patterns which make this wood resistant to water. Another tropical hardwood option is cambara it is less durable than ipe but is also knot-free.
Cons: It is an expensive choice And requires predrilling for fasteners.
Recommendations: Ipe (E-pay) is the most durable choice but costs about $2 more per square foot then cambara.



Plastic-Wood Composites
Pros: It is virtually indestructible. It has skid resistance, sustainability, it’s low-maintenance, resists decay, and repels insects and UV rays. It is also splinter free and easy to work with. Trex, TimberTech and DuraWood EX come with 10-year warranties, while ChoiceDek and DuraWood PE are backed for 20 years.
Cons: Some composite decking has a plastic appearance and some times colors can fade over time. Some building codes also don’t allow composite lumber so check before you order it.
Recommendations: Typical choices are plain deck boards such as Trex and ChoiceDek, and shaped tongue and groove deck boards, such as TimberTech and SmartDeck’s DuraWood EX. SmartDeck also offers a 100 percent plastic product called DuraWood PE. If you’re going to be wiring the deck consider ChoiceDek and DuraWood as both of these deck and rail systems are formed to allow running wires within posts or deck boards.



Vinyl Deck Systems
Pros: Vinyl deck systems typically include deck boards, rails, spindles and fascia. They create a low maintenance deck that does not need sealers or finishes and is free of splinters and cracks. They also resist UV rays if treated at the factory. The three major manufacturers of vinyl deck systems Kroy, DreamDeck and EZ Deck offer limited lifetime warranties.
Cons: These systems can be very expensive. Vinyl can also fade and get brittle with age unless specially treated at the factory and all vinyl eventually loses its gloss.
Recommendations: Skid resistant planks are available in a variety of colors from Kroy, DreamDeck and EZ Deck. Also opt for color-fast, no-fade treatments like the one used by EZ Deck.




Feel free to contact C&H Construction your North Georgia mountain licensed home builder with any questions you may have about your decking options, redoing your current deck or installing a new one.


C&H Construction is a licensed general contractor and Custom Home builder located in Blairsville, Union County Georgia serving Towns County Georgia, Fannin County Georgia, Gilmer County Georgia and the North Georgia Mountains.