Find the Best Decking Material Choice for Your Home

Knowing which choice of material you should build a deck out of ultimately comes down to weighing the pros and cons of four key factors

The avatar of Rachel Polant

Rachel Polant

Jan 21

Thinking about a new deck for your home and wondering about decking material options?

Your decking options these days offer more than natural wood. Today, a homeowner can find decking options in, not only wood, but also composite, plastic, and aluminum. Knowing which choice of material you should build a deck out of ultimately comes down to weighing the pros and cons of four key factors: budget, climate, ease of maintenance, and overall aesthetic.

Here’s a brief rundown on the 5 most common types of decking material on the market

Wood Decking

Pros: Real hardwood decking is timeless and fits into any type of architecture. Most natural wood is pressure-treated pine, but more expensive options include cedar, redwood, and tropical hardwoods.

Cons: Natural wood fades over time and changes color. It also tends to crack and stain if it isn’t refinished correctly and regularly. Also, hardwoods and exotic choices can be expensive and that’s not including the cost of paint and stain every few years.

Price: About $225 to $825 or more per 100 square feet.

Composite Decking

Pros: Has a wood grain, mimicking the look of natural hardwood. It’s made of plastic and wood fiber and even though you don’t need to stain it, you can. But, since it doesn’t have an actual wood grain, you’ll need to select an exterior stain/sealer with a solid color. Most now also come with the plank’s sides encased in plastic to prevent mildew growth. Composite decking resists fading, staining, scratching, and mold. It won’t rot, crack, or warp either. Plus, it’s also insect-proof and splinter-free.

Cons: Most choices are heavier and more expensive than the usual pine. It also has more of a tendency to sag and bend compared to wood. Plus, it isn’t as mildew and mold resistant in damp, shady areas. Composite can be more slippery than wood as well, making it a fall hazard for the elderly and children.

Price: About $425 to $650 per 100 square feet.

Plastic Decking

Pros:  Maintenance free. Choices include PVC and polyethylene. It’s also lightweight and recyclable. Another benefit of plastic decking is the color goes all the way through, so dings and scratches are not noticeable.

Cons: Some can look cheap and be slippery, and like composite, it sags more than wood. The plastic can also become very hot in the sun and give off an uncomfortable amount of heat. It is prone to expanding and contracting with the temperature as well.

Price: About $525 to $625 per 100 square feet.

Aluminum/Steel Decking

Pros: Toughness, rigidity, and slip resistance. Its baked-on or anodized finish should last several decades, and its textured surface adds traction. Sections can interlock so that rain won’t drip through as well, which is great if you have a patio or porch beneath.

Cons: It’s expensive. And, it looks nothing like wood. But lasts longer than any other decking material.

Price: About $700 per 100 square feet.

Finding the best pro for your deck installation job

Whatever decking material you do choose, it’s very important to have it installed correctly by a professional. Incorrect installation will limit the life and enjoyment of your deck, costing you more money in replacing it sooner than you should have had to.

If you’re interested in finding out more about which deck option is right for your home, get a free quote today from a qualified deck installer near you!