Are you planning to build a new deck to enjoy in the spring and summer months? From relaxing outside with a book and a cold glass of lemonade to hosting a BBQ with your family and friends, an outdoor deck is one of the best ways to enjoy your home.
Build a deck and your family will surely reap the benefits for many years to come – but only if the deck you build is of high enough quality. A poorly conceived deck made out of sub-par materials will likely cause more headache than enjoyment as you work hard to maintain it.
What Are You Basing Your Choice On?
For many homeowners, the material of choice is the most attractive one with the lowest upfront cost. Of course this makes sense, but it’s important to think about the material’s cost in the long term. Factors like durability and maintenance needs should also figure into your decision.
Here’s how it breaks down. While traditional wood has a classic, natural appearance and a lower upfront cost, it requires a variety of maintenance practices that will cost you time and money. On the other hand, modern engineered products cost more upfront but will last much longer and require little to no maintenance.
The Problem with Wood: Long Term Cost
Of all the materials available, wood requires the most maintenance. So while it may seem like the cheapest option to begin with, make sure you consider how much the maintenance will cost – or, alternately, how much time you’ll have to invest. If you’re willing to commit to resealing and repairing the deck yourself, you’ll save money but give yourself the chore of taking time to fix problems that crop up.
Here’s a nice breakdown of how much your wood deck will cost in the long run. Say, for example, that you need to spend $700 to stain your deck in its first year. The deck in question is built from some kind of treated lumber or cedar.
Staining will help protect the wood, but it won’t be a long-term solution. You’ll have to stain it again every two years from then on. Every six years, you’ll have to strip and sand the wood prior to performing the biannual stain. This process will likely cost around $900.
The costs add up. To avoid deterioration and ensure your deck is safe and sturdy, you’ll need to invest in the proper maintenance – which means that about a decade in, you’ll have spent more than $4,500 on maintenance alone.
Despite all this, your wood deck will still be prone to cracking and splintering, among other problems. It’s in the nature of organic materials to break down, especially when exposed to fluctuating temperatures and precipitation.
Should you choose wood nonetheless, it’s important to be honest with yourself from the beginning about whether you’re actually going to invest in the kind of maintenance a wood deck will require.
Alternative Materials: Plastic Composite
Composite decks are generally much less intensive on the maintenance front. Alternative materials fall into three categories: traditional composite, capped composite, and capped PVC. Let’s take a look at the first two alternatives.
Composite decking requires far less care than wood – no staining, sanding, or stripping required. You’ll need to scrub with soapy water and a soft brush every so often, but most come with a warranty that will ensure you won’t need to do much – if anything – else. It’s also much safer than wood due to its much higher burn temperature.
Unfortunately, plastic composite doesn’t really look like wood, so if you’re after a natural appearance, it may not be the right choice for you. The earliest form of composite decking was made from a blend of wood fiber and plastic and, while sturdy, had rampant issues like color bleaching. It was also easily scratched and stained.
Manufacturers went on to develop a more wood-like version of composite decking that also held its color. It was more durable and resistant to stains, mold, and mildew. It also made some improvements to prevent against scratches – though the material was still not as resistant as it could be.
However, both versions of composite decking had virtually no heat dissipation properties, meaning they could get extremely hot in the sun. And while this new capped composite material looked more like wood, it still wasn’t quite as realistic as it could be.
Capped PVC: The Best of All Worlds
Enter capped PVC, a material developed by AZEK® and known for its strength and virtually maintenance-free durability. Capped PVC is available in a wide variety of textures and colors that will never fade, splinter, or need to be painted. Unlike other composite decking materials, capped PVC from AZEK® doesn’t contain any wood filler – which allows the company to offer a limited lifetime warranty, a feature unique for the industry.
Perhaps surprisingly, capped PVC looks nothing like plastic, especially if you choose a variety made to resemble natural wood. Manufacturers have created a range of colors and textures based on a number of different types of hardwood, giving homeowners many options to choose from – all of which come with the same guarantee of high quality and longevity.
Capped PVC also resists rotting, warping, cracking, and splintering. It offers superior heat dissipation in comparison to other composite materials. Owners of a traditional wood deck will find that they spend significantly more time and money in the long run on maintenance, while owners of a deck made of capped PVC will enjoy peace of mind and an aesthetically gorgeous deck.
Work with Lakeside Exteriors
Are you interested in building a new deck? At Lakeside Exteriors, we work with every client to ensure full satisfaction from start to finish. We want to know about your vision and interests – and that includes budget, materials, size, and more.
Is the deck of your dreams durable, aesthetically pleasing, and virtually maintenance-free? Contact us today to learn more information, or to schedule an appointment to visit our showroom. We’d love to show you why AZEK® capped PVC is our material of choice.