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Your Decking Material Options: Pros and Cons

We have been building wood, composite and solid PVC decks and screened porches here in Lancaster County, PA since 1999. With over 12 years experience I can tell you the decision most families struggle with is what kind of decking material to we choose for their new deck.

If initial cost were the only concern, the answer would always be simple: wood. Unfortunately, we must consider many important factors. Along with initial cost, the appearance you are looking for and long-term maintenance time and costs come into play. The types of fasteners used to secure the decking are also important to many homeowners. Please use this guide to help you decided whether pressure-treated wood, composite or PVC/plastic decking is what your dream deck is made of.

Pressure-Treated Wood

Deck AwardWinnerbuiltbyMBCRemodelingLancasterPA 300x224 Your Decking Material Options: Pros and Cons
Why is the wood pressure treated? According to About.com: “Less durable woods, like Southern pine and Western fir, are treated with preservatives. This makes them more resistant to the elements, rot and insects.”

Wood is used for the structural pieces of your deck no matter what you choose for the top. The other types of materials used for the surface are most likely either not strong enough or too expensive (or both) to serve as the frame for your deck.

Pros:

  • Cheaper option
  • Looks like real wood… ‘cause it is!
  • Easy to work with
  • Mold-resistant
  • Hidden or visible fastener options
  • Usually comes with lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Higher maintenance costs
  • Will rot and lose appearance if not maintained
  • Contains chemical preservatives
  • Can splinter

Composite

compositedecklancasterpa 300x224 Your Decking Material Options: Pros and Cons
Composite or synthetic decking is a lumber alternative that combines plastic and wood fiber. It is more environmentally friendly than wood, and the popularity of composite brands, such as Trex, has exploded over the past decade in residential deck building.

Pros:

  • Weather resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Made from recycled materials

Cons:

  • More expensive than wood
  • Varying appearance issues between brands
  • Not resistant to mold or mildew. Especially shows in places where the deck is under a lot of shade.
  • Can sag over time if not installed correctly
  • They don’t last forever. Varying warranty lengths (10 years – lifetime)
  • Can be difficult to work with

PVC


100 2601 300x224 Your Decking Material Options: Pros and Cons
100 2752 300x224 Your Decking Material Options: Pros and Cons

Plastic lumber (PVC), including products made by Azek, is a 100% recyclable decking option made from recycled plastics. It is said to need the lowest amount of maintenance of the materials we are discussing.

Pros:

  • Stain resistant
  • No mold or mildew
  • Scratch resistant
  • Will not rot
  • 100% recyclable

Cons:

  • More expensive than wood
  • Varying appearance issues between brands
  • Tend to sag and bend over time more than wood
  • They don’t last forever. Varying warranty lengths (10 years – lifetime)
  • Can be difficult to work with

Please comment on your experiences with any of these decking materials. If you are looking for a deck builder in and around Lancaster County, PA, please contact MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC at [717] 371.5136.

Posted in Deck Design & Building.

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6 Responses

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  1. Fiberon says

    Excellent article detailing the differences between composite vs pvc. As you noted, both options are more expensive (at first!) than traditional wood decks; however, I believe a href=”http://www.fiberondecking.com/products/decking”>composite deck provides the most cost-effective solution. I agree with 99% of your analysis except the part about composite decks being prone to sagging. Composite planks are in fact much stronger and highly unlikely to sag under even long, sustained pressure IF installed correctly at first.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. mbcbuilding says

    Thanks for commenting Will – you are right and I’ve made the update!

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