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What Is the Coolest Decking Material?

Friday, March 29, 2024

Determining the coolest decking material requires a variety of factors to be considered. For example, the insulation, color, and composition of the decking material. In general, lighter-colored decking materials absorb less heat than darker-colored decking materials and feel cooler underfoot in direct sunlight.

Also, materials with low thermal conductivity, such as capped composite decking with a protective polymer shell, help minimize heat absorption and retention. PVC decking made entirely of plastic also offers excellent heat resistance for use in hot climates or areas exposed to direct sunlight.

Ultimately, the coolest deck material depends on personal preference, budget, and specific environmental conditions. Therefore homeowners should research and compare different options to find the best material for their needs.

How do I choose the right material for my deck?

When shopping for outdoor deck materials, it is important to base your decision on your budget and personal taste. Each material has a different price range, appearance, and durability.

Before you start building your new deck, ask yourself these questions:

  1. what is the primary purpose of building the deck?
  2. how many people will use the deck?
  3. will the deck withstand severe weather or extreme temperature changes?
  4. what deck design style (wood grain, color, etc.) do you prefer?

Thinking through the answers to these four questions before building your deck can help you choose the best deck material for the job.

There are four main types of deck materials commonly found on the market today:

  • Traditional wood
  • Composite decking material
  • PVC decking
  • Metal decking
Outdoor-Decking-Material-3

Wooden Decks

Want the look of a traditional “natural deck”? Traditional wood may be the best choice for you.

Of all the decking materials, wood decking has the most obvious advantages and disadvantages, especially when it comes to appearance and long-term maintenance. Let’s take a look at a few different wood decking options.

Pressure-Treated Wood

  • Pros: Inexpensive, easy to purchase, resists mold and mildew, and has a natural wood grain.
  • Cons: Chemical treatments are harmful, tend to break over time, and require regular maintenance and care.
  • Price range: Pressure-treated pine costs between $2.50 and $5 per square foot. Other types of wood decking cost between $5 and $8 per square foot.

Pressure-treated wood is both strong and inexpensive for decks. In most cases, pine wood is chemically treated using vacuum and pressure methods. The resulting boards are strong and durable, not susceptible to rot or mold, and resistant to insect infestation.

Keep in mind that this wood is chemically treated. Therefore food that falls onto the deck should not be eaten. This wood deck is full of chemicals and can crack and break like wood. So you probably don’t want to walk on it barefoot either.

On the other hand, don’t light this wood on fire! The toxins released from burning it can be harmful to your health. When cutting pressure-treated wood for your deck, make sure the room you’re in has good air circulation.

If you want a cheap wood deck that is more durable than other options. Then pressure-treated decking may be the best option for you.

Outdoor-Decking-Material-1

Cedar

  • Pros: Beautiful natural look and finish, more affordable.
  • Cons: It is prone to splitting and cracking, and it needs to be sealed annually to prevent rot, mold, and insect infestation.
  • Price range: $3.50 to $6.00 per square foot.

If you like the look and feel of wood, cedar decking can fulfill your needs. Cedar is a beautiful wood with strong tones, and it’s easy to sand, stain, and paint.

Another advantage of cedar decking is that it does not attract bugs. It also has a natural resistance to decay, unlike other types of natural wood that decompose quickly. Cedar is more water resistant because it absorbs moisture very slowly. So you don’t have to seal and replace boards as often.

Although cedar is not prone to rotting, it is still a softwood that can be easily scratched and damaged. Therefore, be careful when moving outdoor furniture and tools on cedar decks. Over time, cedar decks will slowly fade. Therefore homeowners need to perform regular maintenance and upkeep tasks.

Outdoor-Decking-Material-2

Bamboo Deck

  • Pros: Beautiful appearance, strand-woven bamboo decking is durable and environmentally friendly.
  • Cons: Easy to scratch, easy to bend and dent over time. It is also not suitable for use in cold places.
  • Price range: $14.00 to $18.00 per square foot.

Bamboo used for decking needs to be treated before it can be used. Wood fibers are woven together to make deck boards. This bamboo decking lasts even longer than wood. In addition, bamboo is better for the planet since it takes only one-fifth as long to grow as hardwood.

Most bamboo deck brands cost more than $15 per square foot. This is because they are more durable and take longer to make. Well-maintained wood decks last about 10-15 years. Bamboo decks last longer, which somewhat offsets the expensive initial cost.

The maintenance cost of a bamboo deck is roughly the same as a wood deck. Every year, you should clean and oil your bamboo deck. In addition, where you live determines the value of bamboo. Bamboo grows well in hotter places and does not swell when wet. However, cold and humid places are not good for bamboo because they cause it to rot.

wood-decking

Redwood

  • Pros: Redwoods are very stable and upright and do not bend or shrink easily. They are also naturally resistant to termites.
  • Cons: It requires regular annual maintenance or it will lose its color and beauty. Additionally, redwoods can break under pressure.
  • Price range: Normal prices range from $6.00 to $8.00 per square foot. Expensive and rare species of redwood can cost as much as $35.00 per square foot.

Redwood is a beautiful decking wood because it has a deep, beautiful tone. Even though it is made of softwood, termites cannot destroy its natural oils and tannins.

Good fire resistance is another advantage of redwood. It is the most fire-resistant type of wood deck, making it best suited for hot and dry places. On the other hand, fewer and fewer people are choosing redwood decking, and that’s because it’s hard to find. And redwood comes from protected redwood trees, so its price goes up.

Even if sealed once a year, redwood is prone to dents. Installation should be done with epoxy-coated screws to avoid metal damage to the wood. It is not necessary to use redwood decking, there are other less expensive and easier-to-maintain types of wood.

Tropical Hardwoods

  • Pros: Wood with “character”, great looks, rich colors, long life.
  • Cons: More expensive than other woods, also requires regular maintenance and upkeep work.
  • Price range: Tigerwood costs $7.50 to $15.00 per square foot and Ipe costs $10.00 to $19.00 per square foot.

Tigerwood is ideal for families and pet owners. It has a hard-to-scratch surface that can withstand heavy foot traffic. In addition, tigerwood can be used for long periods of time without the use of a lot of chemicals. Ipe is very thick, which means it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance and you don’t have to worry about rot and pests. Ipe has a long lifespan and can last for decades with good maintenance.

Tropical hardwoods are a good choice for warm, humid places. For the most part, tropical hardwood doesn’t crack like other types of wood decks and stays cool in hot weather. Ipe decks don’t heat up or crack, making them safe to walk on.

The main drawback of tropical hardwood decks is that they are expensive. You may have to pay a higher price for Ipe or Tigerwood than you would for a regular wood deck. This is because they change with every market. In addition, these hardwood decks are much heavier than most woods.

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A Deeper Look at Wood Decks

Comparing wood decking to composite decking, its advantages and disadvantages are very clear. Wood decking costs less per square foot than composite decking materials and has a classic look and feel. But you’ll need to perform annual maintenance and replace the boards every so often to keep them from cracking, rotting, or getting insects. Even with regular maintenance, regular wood decks only last 10-15 years.

Of the different types of deck trim, traditional wood is one of the least expensive deck materials to build. But in the long run, ongoing cleaning, maintenance, and replacement of your wood deck will cost more. That is, unless you prefer the look of natural wood, another deck material may be better for you.

Composite Decking

Composite decking materials are usually produced from a mixture of wood fibers and recycled plastic. This composite material offers many of the benefits of wood and plastic. So if you want a high-performance, low-maintenance deck with a variety of design styles. Then composite decking can fulfill these needs for you.

When compared to traditional wood decking, composite decking costs more to purchase than wood decking, though. However, composite decking has a much longer lifespan and does not require regular maintenance and upkeep. Therefore, after many years of use, the total cost of composite decking is lower than the total cost of wood decking.

There are three main types of composite decking available in the market.

Best-Material-for-Pool-Deck

Solid Composite Decking

These solid boards are perfect for pool decks and walkways. They can last for a long time because they are strong, durable, waterproof, and mold-resistant. Solid composite decking is heavy, so installing them requires help. You need to allow for proper clearance when installing composite decking boards to avoid large temperature changes that can cause the solid boards to warp.

Hollow Composite Decking

These boards are lightweight, easy to move, and perfect for decks with siding, wiring, or cabling. At their ends, you will need to install caps or fascia boards. Because hollow composite decking uses less material, it is less expensive than solid composite decking. In addition, the weight capacity of these composite decking boards is lower.

Capped Composite Decking

Capped composite decking consists of two parts, an inner core of composite material and an outer protective polymer shell. The polymer shell provides superior protection. As a result, capped composite decking is more resistant to water, mildew, and fading than ordinary composite decking.

This type of composite decking is suitable for use in areas of high usage and susceptibility to rain, snow, and high temperatures. Of course, in most cases, capped composite decking is a bit more expensive.

Build-a-Pool-Deck-2

Common Composite Decking Brands

We researched six companies that produce quality composite decking boards. Each appeals to a different group of buyers.

Do you value the popularity of the composite decking brand? Are you looking for a variety of different styles? Or is the cost of composite decking installation your main concern? Let’s take a look at what makes these composite decking manufacturers different.

Trex

  • Pros: it has a large distribution network, is great for full outdoor living designs, and is available at a variety of price points.
  • Cons: It’s not as sturdy as treated wood and some other composite decking brands.
  • Price range: prices range from $5 to $12 per square foot. If stairs and railings are included, it’s $15 to $30.

Trex is a well-known brand of composite decking. Trex can give a lower price than most of its competitors because it has been in the market for a long time. Trex composite decking is mainly made of synthetic materials so it won’t rot or mold. It is also less likely to fade or stain. Trex composite decking is also less likely to slip in wet weather.

The core strength of Trex composite decking boards is not very good. It is not as strong as treated wood. So over time, large loads and foot traffic can bend the structure of composite decking. People using Trex composite decking should also be aware of water, snow, and ice.

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COOWIN

  • Pros: Composite decking has a more refined wood grain surface, with a new 3D wood grain series, and a mold and rot-resistant capped composite decking.
  • Cons: This composite decking manufacturer has a minimum purchase quantity, making it less suitable for individual buyers.
  • Price range: Prices range from $2 to $5 per square foot. This is COOWIN’s factory’s direct price.

COOWIN is a company with more than 20 years of experience in production and manufacturing. It has been dedicated to producing and developing new composite products for many years. In addition to composite decking boards, they also offer composite cladding, composite fences, composite railing, and many other outdoor decorative materials.

COOWIN first developed the 3D wood grain series of decks with delicate surface textures. These composite decking boards can give you the feeling of imitating natural wood grain. The 3D wood grain surface also provides excellent anti-slip properties. In addition, COOWIN can also provide customized services for customers.

COOWIN is more suitable for dealers or agents as a factory direct composite decking brand. If you are an individual buyer and have high demand, then you can also choose COOWIN composite decking.

Build-a-Pool-Deck-1

TimberTech

  • Pros: they offer a good long-term warranty, available in a wide range of colors and woods.
  • Cons: They are more expensive than Trex and you need to pay extra for specialized cleaners.
  • Price range: $5.70 to $13.50 per square foot (includes materials only).

People who want their deck to “look like solid wood” often choose TimberTech. Which comes in three different sizes depending on the product line and is made from 50 to 80 percent recycled materials.

TimberTech AZEK produces some of the most expensive composite decking, but they come with warranties ranging from 25 years to lifetime. One can choose from over 40 colors and textures in their product line.

You can choose from more styles of TimberTech decking than you can with Trex composite decking. Of course, they are also more expensive.

Timbertech-Composite-Decking

Fiberon

  • Pros: 25-year warranty on all products (50-year warranty on higher-end products). PVC shells are very resistant to fading and stains. Lots of great colors and styles to choose from.
  • Cons: Price is higher than Trex and TimberTech. Also, high water pressure may damage it.
  • Price range: $9.25 to $14.50 per square foot (materials only)

Of all the major composite decking brands, Fiberon has the most color options. It has 21 colors in six product lines. The company has voided their first 25-year warranty since its inception in 1997. This is a good sign. It means that their composite decking has a life expectancy of more than 25.

Fiberon composite decking is made from 50 percent recycled wood and 50 percent PVC, a man-made plastic. They are then pressed together with a protective cover on three sides. The outside of each piece of composite wood decking is covered with a PVC shell.

It is important to note that when cleaning Fiberon’s products, less water pressure should be used. When using a pressure washer, do not exceed 2500 psi water pressure, and do not use metal brushes.

Fiberon-Composite-Decking

Bamboo

  • Pros: Eco-friendly products made from 100% recycled materials, they are also LEED certified. Additionally, the bamboo style decks are aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting.
  • Cons: BamDeck is much more expensive than comparable products, and its open-core design is not as strong as capped composite decking.
  • Price range: $15 to $75 per square foot.

People who want to live in a green world will choose Cali Bamboo for their composite decking needs. Cali Bamboo uses recycled materials and has a wrapped protective cover on all four sides.

Cali Bamboo’s BamDeck line features hollow core boards and matching fascia boards. 60% of these are made from recycled bamboo fibers and 40% from recycled plastics. Cali Bamboo Decorative Panels are LEED certified. With this government certification, you can call your home a “green” house, and it increases the resale value of your home.

You cannot use chemicals to clean Bamboo decking. Warm water and light soap are enough. Their composite decking comes with a 15 or 25-year home warranty. It is important to note that Bamboo’s composite decking is very expensive, so be very careful when cleaning it.

Bamboo-Composite-Decking

Lumberock

  • Pros: All products come with a lifetime warranty, are very resistant to water and salt, and do not contain any organic materials. Therefore it is very safe from mold and mildew.
  • Cons: The website does not offer pricing and there is a minimum square footage requirement per order.
  • Price range: Each custom order is priced individually, so ask your deck builder or Lumberock directly for pricing.

Lumberock is a good choice if you want a small company that focuses on producing a quality product. It has 12 different styles of composite decking and 12 different colors. You can purchase decking boards in any color.

Any Lumberock composite decking boards do not contain organic materials. This is because they are made from recycled plastic and minerals. So these decks will not rot, be damaged by bugs, or absorb water.

Lumberock is available in a variety of color options. Their deck boards come in log colors as well as unique greens and blacks that go with almost any outdoor living style.

Keep in mind that each Lumberock composite decking is made to order. Therefore they do not have a set price per square foot. Most orders require a minimum purchase, usually between 1,000 and 2,000 square feet.

An In-Depth Look at Composite Decking

Do you spend a lot of time on your deck? Is it near a yard or a pool? Can it accommodate a lot of people or a lot of cooking equipment? If you love the outdoors, composite decking boards are the way to go.

If any of these things are true, you should choose composite decking. Although the initial cost of composite decking is higher, you will save a lot of money on repairs and maintenance in the long run. In addition, most brands of composite decking come with excellent warranty options.

Other Types of Decking Materials

You may think that composite decking is too expensive or its surface texture is not natural enough. Therefore, you may consider other decking materials. Considering their price and appearance, we do not recommend these materials for most homeowners. In rare cases, these deck trim materials may make sense.

Renovate-or-Remodel-Your-Outdoor-Deck

PVC Decking

  • Pros: Strong and durable, water and mold resistant, lighter weight.
  • Cons: Higher upfront cost, installers may need specialized training and have to deal with more structural components.
  • Price range: $10 to $15 per square foot.

Composite decking’s “sister product” is PVC decking. Many composite decking are made with a PVC base material. In addition, PVC decking usually has a polymer protective shell as well.

In many cases, PVC decking looks “more like real wood” than many other alternatives. When properly installed, it will not mold and will hold up well in wet weather. It also provides better protection against the spread of fire than other decks.

Homeowners can choose from a variety of PVC brands, such as TimberTech. this way, you can opt for the same customer service and warranty as those who use composite decking.

Of course, PVC decking also has some drawbacks. For example, the installation cost is higher than composite decking, and additional structure may be required for installation.

Floating-Deck-2

Aluminum Decking

  • Pros: Easy to maintain, won’t rot or attract bugs, and it’s lightweight, making it perfect for docks.
  • Cons: The ground can get hot quickly, looks unnatural, and can be noisy.
  • Price range: $12 to $15 per square foot.

Aluminum decks are not subject to rot or insect infestation. Extreme weather won’t damage it, and it’s hollow, making it lightweight and easy to install. Additionally, aluminum decks are usually coated with a powder coating, making them less slippery and more water resistant.

Temperature is an important factor for families to consider. Aluminum decks get hot and cool down very quickly. Be careful when walking barefoot in the summer as it can get very hot very quickly. On the other hand, aluminum decks can be noisy with metal banging. Especially if someone is running or playing on the deck.

Aluminum decks can last up to 20 years or more with little to no maintenance. If you don’t mind the look of the deck and its high cost, then you can opt for an aluminum deck.

Deck-Dining-Room-Furniture-Ideas

Summary

In conclusion, this article details the advantages and disadvantages of different decking materials. In addition, some well-known brands of composite decking are provided for the newer composite decking materials. Understanding the properties of these decking materials can better help you choose the right one. In the end, all you need to do is choose the decking that suits you according to your actual situation, budget, and design needs.

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