Smart options for your deck materials
When choosing decking materials, factor in the savings gained by low maintenance and longevity, even If you’re planning a new deck or upgrading an old one, the decking material is the most important decision you’ll make. Not too long ago, redwood and cedar were just about the only options. Synthetics, such as composite and PVC decking, and tropical hardwoods, such as ipe and mahogany, offer ease of maintenance and longevity that put the traditional favorites in the shade.
These new contenders are pricier initially, but don’t have the annual maintenance costs of softwood decks. In some cases, the overall cost (initial costs plus annual maintenance) of a wood deck can exceed those of a composite or PVC deck after only a few years.
For example, the cost of cedar decking is approximately $1,700 for a 16-by-20-foot deck. The same deck covered with composite decking would cost $3,200 — a hefty $1,500 more.
However, to keep the cedar looking good, it should be cleaned and resealed every year, at a cost of $90 to $100 if you do the job yourself. Add your valuable time to the out-of-pocket expense, and the price gap between wood and maintenance-free synthetic decking grows smaller with each passing year.