With a little bit of planning prior to building or replacing your deck, you can enjoy the outdoors on your beautiful deck for 20 years or more! During the planning phase, you should consider what style of deck you want, where to place your deck, and the environment of your yard.
In this post, we will explore different decking materials. Knowing how each decking material works and how to maintain it will allow deck enjoyment for its maximum lifespan.
How long do wood decks last?
Wood is often the most popular decking material. Wood is versatile, is the most affordable, provides a natural and classic look, and usually requires simple and inexpensive repairs. If properly treated, a wood deck can last for many years and adds value to your home. However, wood does require yearly maintenance in order to keep the deck in good shape. Wood can rot and warp. Accumulated stress of direct sunlight, rain, insect infestation and repeated cycles of thermal expansion and contraction also play a role in deck deterioration.
As moisture constantly rises out of the soil, a platform deck is more at risk for ground moisture seeping into the wood. Moreover, a deck built right above the grade lacks adequate ventilation to disperse moist air. On the other hand, although continuous blazing sun deteriorates deck boards and sealant, yards with a lot of shade block the wood deck from drying adequately after rainy weather. This promotes wood rot and increases the chances of having to replace your wood deck sooner. Thus, elevated decks with a lot of air circulation come with a lower risk of moisture damage.
Deck boards are usually the first component to go bad. As long as the joists underneath remain structurally sound, you can replace an occasional rotted board to prolong the life of the entire deck. For a treated wood deck, regular intervals of quality solid stain and light power washing will give you years of enjoyment and a beautiful appearance. A water-repellant coating with an oil or wax base keeps water from penetrating the wood surface and prevents wood rot.
Cedar is one of the most popular woods for all elements of outdoor living. It retains less moisture than many other woods. However, cedar does scratch easily and is also considered a high-maintenance option. Cedar requires frequent cleanings and annual sealing in order to maintain the original cedar color. A cedar deck can last 25 to 40 years with proper care, but not maintaining your cedar deck can reduce that length of time to only 10 to 15 years.
Mahogany and IPE are both hard woods with attractive natural color. Both are much harder than a softwood option like pine, which means they are more scratch-resistant and are good options for people with pets, children, and high-traffic yards. Even though they are both natural wood materials, they resist mold and wood rotting. A well-maintained mahogany or IPE deck can last up to 40 years.
Pressure-treated pine lumber has chemical preservatives put in the grain of the wood using a high-pressure technique. These chemicals help increase rot and insect resistance, but the deck still needs to be sealed and maintained for the best lifespan. As pressure-treated wood dries, either after initial installation or heavy rain, it can warp and shrink, creating less than desirable results. However, a properly maintained pine wood deck holds up surprisingly well to the outdoor elements. Pressure-treated wood decks can last 20-25 years with regular preventative maintenance. Unfortunately, many decks will fail to reach that expected lifespan due to inadequate maintenance by the homeowner.
How long do composite decks last?
If you are looking for a low-maintenance option, a composite deck may be the right choice for you. With minimal maintenance, composite decking can last at least 25 years. However, the cost of a composite deck can sometimes be twice the price of a treated wood deck.
The consistency and materials of composite is very resistant to warping, rotting and splintering. The moisture protection of composite also prevents rotting and molding in a humid climate. Most composite is now available in nice wood tones, and some even feature natural-looking wood grains. Composite does not need to be painted or sealed. Manufacturers usually have specific warranties for UV protection, stain and fade resistance, and structural integrity based on materials chosen. A good composite deck can be cleaned as needed with a garden hose and does not require the application of stains or sealants to extend its lifespan.
TimberTech is a high-quality composite brand, which offers decks and rails that do not require painting, staining, or sealing. TimberTech offers a limited 25-year warranty. TwinFish is a double-sided decking solution. The VertiGrain side is slip-resistant and is great near pools and steps. The Serrated side adds contrasting elements to the deck and looks good with built-in planters or benches.
Trex Decking is a popular composite brand that contains a patented “capped” coating that is scratch-resistant and is good-looking for a long time. They offer a limited 25-year warranty and provide a wide variety of colors and patterns.