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How to Decide Which Type of Decking to Use

Published: Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Custom 2-Tone Stained Cedar Deck with Picture Framing and Custom Nautical Star Emblem Built by Paradise Construction

As the flowers are blooming and the plants are sprouting, Spring likes to make a big appearance once Winter is over. Of course, when living in Oregon, we usually get teased by Spring for a few weeks before it decides to actually come out in full force. But with Spring here now, and the weather starting to finally dry out, many people want to start going outside to enjoy the smells and scenery of the new season. Naturally, this includes an outdoor space at home that they either want to create, or have already. Traditionally speaking, this space is usually a deck/patio used for barbecues, pool parties, or even hot yoga. However, if you aren’t familiar with the different types and brands of decking, you may not know which one is best for your needs and lifestyle. That’s why we decided to put together a quick guide on which types of decking are best for specific uses/activities.

Cedar Decking

Domestic Cedar decking is the original and most commonly used material for decking, and is also one of the better-looking options you have in terms of aesthetics. With cedar decking, you will get a beautiful (and natural!) grain pattern, that will wear with time into a beautiful gray patina. These are readily accessible in most places within the Northwest, and will definitely provide you an affordable, beautiful and, long-lasting option when properly treated (should be treated every 2 years for best results.)

Exotic Hardwoods

Tigerwood Deck Oil-Finished, Built by Paradise Construction

Exotic hardwoods come from all around the world, from South America to Africa, and everywhere in between. These hardwoods have wildly different uses, but some exotics that are popular for decking are Ipe (widely considered the best decking in the world), Cumaru, Tigerwood, etc. For the most sought-after exotics, they are widely praised for their incredible durability and aesthetics. While some of these hardwoods are considered to be expensive, you get what you pay for, as a lot of them have use for 30+ years. When properly treated and maintained though, exotic hardwoods are the best looking aesthetically, and longest-lasting/most-durable decking material you can buy. For reference, Ipe has the hardest Janka Hardness Scale rating of all hardwoods, measuring at 3680 (which in comparison, is harder than solid lead!) As an example, the Coney Island Boardwalk has been an iconic destination for almost 100 years. They gets millions of visitors every year there, and had an Ipe boardwalk for over 70 years, without treatment. This is simply unheard of with other wood materials, and really drives home the point that this is the best decking in the world. After being replaced with composite decking, almost all of the wood was re-purposed by people who took the time to salvage it. After some restoration, the wood was still as good as new, and it had only been treated once in its’ lifetime.

Composites

Trex Enhance Deck Built by Paradise Construction

When compared to hardwoods, composite is a very good product. While it may not have the natural grain pattern or color of true hardwood, it makes up for that in other ways. While there are many different lines of composite products, they’re usually broken into 3 price tiers/qualities (low-tier, mid-tier, and top-tier.) Composite decking is best used in situations where the owner of the deck, wants to do minimal to no maintenance. While it’s not quite as beautiful as the exotic hardwoods, it is almost as durable when it comes to longevity. Many Composite manufacturers offer 25+ year warranties, even going as far as 50 years. This shows that as manufacturers, they are confident in the durability of their product. Although some composites are better than others, it really all depends on your price point. If you are looking to build a composite deck purely for longevity, your best bet is either Azek or DecKorators, simply because they have the longest/best warranties. While Azek has a 50-year warranty on the material, DecKorators has a 25-year material AND labor warranty. In regards to a good quality composite deck, for a good price, Trex is the best value on the market. Originally they didn’t have the best product, but being in the market for over 20 years, they’ve improved things a lot. So much so, that they also have a 25-year warranty on their product for fades and stains. So no matter what your budget is, there’s plenty of options to explore.