Pressure Treated Decking
Pressure treated or PT lumber is the most common decking material in North America. Its popularity is due to its low price. This decking material is made of spruce lumber that is treated with chemicals to give this wood the ability to withstand the exposure to the natural elements. If left untreated – pressure treated will turn to grey in a couple of years, it will crack, warp, splinter and deform. Its life expectancy as a decking material is between 10 and 20 years depending on site conditions. If you stain pressure treated – it will perform better, but the stain will need to be reapplied each year on the horizontal deck boards. Every 4-5 years you would need to sand the deck. The initial cost savings do not seem so appealing when all the extra work of maintaining the deck is factored in.
Western Red Cedar decking is a very popular choice for a decking material in Canada. Cedar decking is naturally resistance to rot and decay and does not need to be treated with additional chemicals to extend its lifespan. Cedar has a beautiful appearance and amazing smell when it is newly installed. Unfortunately cedar needs to be stained and maintained regularly to retain its appearance and to prolong its life. Without the regular annual maintenance, cedar will grey, crack and warp, much like the pressure treated and in some cases we have seen cedar deck boards starting to rot only after 10 years.
Ipe decking is your best natural product available. Ipe is a hardwood decking material from Brazil that has the best performance characteristics outdoors. Ipe is very dense and it is the hardest material available, five or six more times harder to scratch than cedar or composite decking. Ipe can be left without any treatments and it will last 40-100 years. Ipe is very popular with municipal and commercial outdoor projects. You will find Ipe installed on city benches, boardwalks along Lake Ontario and many commercial and institutional terraces. Ipe decking can be oiled in order for it to retain its natural brown color. Ipe is more expensive than any other wood, but it is long lasting, clear of knots, stable with minimal cracking, warping and splintering. We only use Ipe that is harvested in a sustainable manner and we recommend this product as the best naturally available decking product.
Composite decking is the largest product line of the maintenance free decking. The word “composite” assumes that there is a mixture of wood and plastic fibers in this product. The outside shell of the material is typically made up of 100% PVC because it provides the best visual appeal and it is very scratch resistant. The core of the composite decking is made up of a mixture of wood and plastic fibers. The top brands of composite decking are Trex, Fiberon and Timbertech. These products heat up more in the sun than the PVC decking or the natural wood products, but to help with that issue we suggest going with a lighter color material. These products are more expensive than cedar or pressure treated, but they provide long term savings once the maintenance is factored in.
Plastic or PVC Decking
100% PVC decking of vinyl deck products are the best maintenance free products on the market today. They are better than the composite decking material because they do not contain any wood fibers in their inner core and thus they do not have the problems associated with wood such as mold and swelling. The top brands of 100% PVC decking are Azek and Wolf. Both of these brands have an excellent choice of different colors and patterns. PVC decking is especially good in areas where there is a lot of moisture. These deck products do not heat up as much in the sun as the composite deck products. PVC decking is also very easy to work with, these products are very light and easy to cut and drill. The dust from these materials does not plug up the tools as much as the composite decking. These products are more expensive and not all clients will pay the extra dollar for these benefits.
Siberian Larch Decking
Siberian Larch is an excellent budget choice for a decking material. Siberian Larch decking is a long lasting material that is naturally resistant to rot and decay. The density of the Siberian Larch is roughly double that of cedar. This decking material is very similar in appearance to cedar decking. If left untreated it will crack and deform like cedar, but it will still last for 30 years or longer. This material is priced just a little higher than cedar and it is an excellent, long lasting alternative to cedar.