What is the Most Durable Decking Material?
When it comes to building a deck, you want to use the most durable and longest-lasting materials available. But because there are quite a few options to choose from, making a decision can be overwhelming.
Some of the commonly used materials for decking are softwood, hardwood, pressure-treated wood, plastic and composites. Very rarely do people also use aluminium decking. If you want a durable deck, which one should you choose?
The Most Durable Decking Material
Durability can mean a couple of things. First, it can pertain to the ability of a material to resist or withstand damage. It can also determine how long a deck would last. For this reason, many have varying thoughts about which type of decking is the most durable. To help you decide which one to use, let’s go over how durable each material is.
Softwoods are the cheapest and most common decking material. But what about durability? Are softwoods durable? They are the least durable decking material. They are less dense and weaker than the other decking options. Wood is also susceptible to mould growth, weather damage, splitting, and splintering. And finally, softwoods are the least fire-resistant.
A softwood deck can last for 10-15 years if maintained properly when it comes to longevity. The maintenance includes regular cleaning, staining, sealing, and painting. If not taken care of properly, it can only last for 5-10 years.
Hardwoods are a step up above softwoods. They are denser and more durable than softwood. They come from slow-growing, deciduous trees. Because of their density, they are more resistant to moisture, fire and insect damage. However, they are still prone to fading due to UV exposure and other problems attributed to wood. Because of their thickness, they are much more expensive and harder to work with than softwoods.
Hardwoods last exceptionally longer than softwoods. It can last for at least 25 years when maintained properly. Proper maintenance includes regular cleaning, oiling and refinishing every few years.
Pressure-treated (PT) woods are woods covered with chemicals to add more protection. They are more resistant to rotting, weather and insect damage. However, because of the chemical coating, burning them can be toxic. PT woods last slightly longer than their non-pressure-treated counterparts when it comes to longevity. This means that depending on the quality of the timber, it can last for more than 25 years, again with proper care and maintenance.
Plastic decking uses different types of polymers. Because it’s from synthetic materials, it’s resistant to most types of damage. The only problem with plastic is that it can heat up quite fast in hot weather. They can also be very slippery. On top of that, they don’t look very natural. As for longevity, plastic decks can last for about 25-30 years. They are also low-maintenance.
Composite decking materials use blended plastic and wood fibres, often called wood-plastic composites (WPC). They combine the best attributes of the two materials. It’s more resistant to mould growth, splitting, splintering, UV fading* and weather damage due to its plastic fibres. And the best thing is that it looks like real wood.
Composite decking can last for more than 25 years. Some manufacturers even claim that they can last for 50 years. They are also low-maintenance, requiring only regular cleaning.
Aluminium decking is the least used material for residential decking. It’s more common in industrial settings. However, aluminium decking is best near pools. They are resistant to most types of damage, including rust. Despite what it seems, they also stay cool even in the hottest weather. The downside is that they are significantly more expensive than previous options. And appearance-wise, it’s not something most homeowners prefer. Aluminium decking can last for a lifetime. However, very few people build decks using aluminium due to their appearance and high cost.
What’s the Most Durable Decking Material?
Without a doubt, aluminium decking is the most durable decking material. However, it’s not for everyone. Alternatively, you can use composite decking materials lasting for 30-50 years. It has the advantage of plastic without losing its wood-like appearance.