All Hands on Deck ~ Cost, Care & Maintenance

In our third installment on appropriate flooring for decks, we will discuss the varying costs, care and maintenance associated with the materials currently available.

As we know from our previous discussion, wood is still the most popular and aesthetically pleasing deck flooring product out there. More than just attractive, it does have innate advantages of comfort and attractive pricing at the outset. However, wood requires more maintenance and care than other materials such as plastic or metal. Wood needs to be treated, stained, and protected from the elements. This level of maintenance can be time-intensive and costly.

Regardless, most folks accept the trade-off due to wood’s inherent beauty and flexible nature. Despite plastic, metal and composite combinations’ longer-lasting and more durable qualities, keep in mind nothing lasts forever and some sort of maintenance is required for whichever option you choose.

Maintenance can range from a simple rinse with a hose to a more thorough process involving the use of a pressure washer or chemicals. A good rule of thumb is that typically deterioration will decrease in correlation to the rise in initial cost with the notable exception of treated pine. Although it is more durable and generally less costly than other types of wood decking, treated pine is widely considered to be less pleasing to the eye.

Here are a few relevant items regarding the varying costs and care associated with decking products. First, wood is available in a large-scale of price points ranging from the very inexpensive to the extremely pricey such as mahogany. As discussed, it is cosmetically attractive and widely utilized. However, it will fade and change color over time. It does require periodic staining and will need to be replaced at a certain point.

Composite or blended materials typically cost more than wood but conversely require less maintenance and last longer. Similarly to wood, it can fade unless produced from a colorfast material. It will expand, contract, grow moldy and mildewed as well. Another detraction is its artificial appearance.

Plastic is more expensive than either wood or composite decking. The benefit lies in its long lifespan, continued look and appearance, such as retaining its original color, and minimal maintenance. It is available in a variety of textures. Once again, the artificial look and feel oftentimes creates an adverse reaction on the part of the homeowner.

Finally, metal is the most expensive material available; however, as discussed, the care and maintenance is minimal in both effort and price. Aesthetics suffer greatly which is why metal or aluminum decking is not widely utilized in the residential arena.