A Guide to the Most Widely-Used Types of Decks and Deck Materials

The addition of a deck to single-family homes, especially those with spacious yards, offers a desirable outdoor area for relaxation, dining, and entertaining. Despite differences in structural design, material, and functionality, constructing a deck is a smart way to enhance outdoor living space and provide practical use.

Most Common Deck Materials

Ipe wood deck

Deck placement and location, along with building code requirements, play a role in determining a deck’s size, height, and features. Decks can be classified based on the material used in construction, which affects the deck’s durability, maintenance needs, and cost. Options for deck material include natural wood, treated lumber, and composite lumber, each requiring unique cleaning and maintenance methods. Understanding the different types of decks available is important.

Decks are classified based on the material used, with common options including wood, composite, PVC, concrete, stone, and aluminum. Natural wood is durable and feels good under bare feet but requires maintenance to prevent rot, splintering, and insect infestation. It needs to be washed and re-stained every two to three years. Different wood types include pressure-treated, cedar, redwood, bamboo, mahogany, and ipe. The ideal wood type depends on local weather and yard conditions. Pressure-treated wood is the most affordable, while high-end options like cedar and redwood cost more. Ipe is the most expensive but highly resistant to damage.

Stones Are Great for Decks

A stone deck

Composite decking is a mixture of plastic and wood fibers and offers an alternative to natural wood. Some composite boards contain wood fibers such as sawdust along with polyethylene plastic. This material is highly resistant to rot and wear and features unique, realistic wood grain patterns to mimic the look of natural wood. Composite can also be used for lattice or railing structures accompanying the deck. It is low maintenance, durable, slip- and water-resistant, and does not require weather-proofing or painting.

PVC is a synthetic material used for various applications, including pipes, wiring, and decks. It is 100% synthetic, stain and rot-resistant, and highly affordable. With no organic material, PVC decking is durable with minimal maintenance and resistant to water, mold, mildew, and insect damage. PVC is available in a variety of colors and, like composite, does not break down naturally.

Concrete and stone decks are the most durable but also the most expensive. Their longevity depends on the installation quality and environmental conditions, and the cost of installation varies based on the deck size and material. These materials are ideal for smaller, ground-level areas, as they blend well with the surrounding environment and increase property value. However, due to their weight, they are not suitable for raised or elevated structures.

A PVC deck

Aluminum is a widely used alternative to wooden decks. It requires low maintenance and can last for many years without needing replacement. With various colors and styles available, aluminum can be tailored to match personal preferences. Additionally, it is fire-resistant and highly resistant to water damage, making it a suitable choice for areas prone to wildfires, hail storms, strong winds, or heavy rainfall.

Decks can also be classified based on their structural design. Some popular types include wrap-around, multi-level, attached, detached, rooftop, side yard, garage, swimming pool, entryway, and specialized-use decks.