A Guide to Popular Decking Materials

In North Carolina and South Carolina, outdoor living is practically an artform. With temperate year-round weather in many regions — specifically on the coast — and long, lazy summers to enjoy, it’s no wonder you want to add a deck to your Carolina home if you don’t have one already! However, choosing the right decking material for your family’s needs and budget can feel overwhelming. There are many options on the market today, all of which claim to have exceptional benefits.


Here, we break down some of the most popular modern decking materials and, hopefully, make it as easy as can be for you to decide which option is the right one for your upcoming deck-building project!


Pressure-treated lumber


Once nearly the only choice for constructing a deck, pressure-treated lumber remains popular among American homeowners thanks to its low price and general durability. In their natural state, pressure-treated deck boards have a blue-green tint because of the chemicals that are used in the treatment process. However, they can be stained with regular wood staining products that can be purchased at any hardware store.


Pressure treated lumber decks will last for decades as long as they are cared for properly. Ideally, you should power wash your deck every year or two and treat it with a high-quality wood preservative. Pressure-treated lumber planks typically sell for $4.00-$5.00 per board. 


Redwood and Western Red Cedar lumber


If you are looking for wood deck boards that are still relatively affordable, but have a different appearance than pressure-treated lumber — and don’t need to be stained on a regular basis — Redwood or Western Red Cedar lumber could be the solution for you. Both of these types of wood have gorgeous red hues and are naturally resistant to rot and insect infestations. 


Redwood and Western Red Cedar decks should receive a clear stain or polyurethane treatment every few years to keep them in good condition. It is also wise to power wash these types of deck every year or two. Redwood and Western Red Cedar planks typically sell for approximately $12.50 per board, about three times the price of pressure-treated lumber. 


Composite lumber


Composite decking boards by brands like Deckorators, TimberTech, and TREX have become increasingly popular all over the United States in recent years. Composite boards are crafted from a mixture of wood fibers (cellulose) and recycled plastic, making them a relatively eco-friendly choice. The biggest benefit of composite decking is that it will not warp, splinter, or crack like wood boards can over time. Furthermore, it never needs to be stained — and it comes in colors not naturally found in wood, like barn red and slate blue. 


However, it’s worth noting that composite decking can fade over time, so keep that in mind when you choose a color. To maintain composite lumber, simply wash it periodically with soap and water. You may also have to remove mold and mildew patches on occasion. Composite lumber planks typically sell for about $18.00 per board. 


It is worth noting that there are also other decking options, such as plastic lumber and tropical hardwood lumber. Plastic lumber has declined in popularity with the rise of composite decking, which is much more environmentally sound, and tropical hardwoods are both extremely expensive and often harvested from protected rainforests. This makes these woods challenging to find from reputable distributors. 


If you have deck questions, the Hatch Homes team is here to help!


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