A recent study shows that many homeowners in the UK don’t have enough time to do household chores. For this reason, many prefer low-maintenance options when it comes to home improvements. Not only can save time by using low-maintenance materials, but you can also potentially save hundreds, if not thousands, from upkeep cost. So if you are planning to build a deck, which material should you use? Let’s consider the three most popular options; wood, plastic, and composite decking.
Are Wood Decks Low-maintenance?
For most people, the first thing that comes to mind when choosing a material for a deck is wood. But is wood a low-maintenance option? In general, most wooden decks available in the market are notoriously high maintenance. There are a few exceptions, however.
Wood decks require a lot of upkeep. You will need to paint, stain, and seal it every two or three years. It’s also more susceptible to several issues, such as moulds, moisture, and insects. Because of this, you will need to inspect and clean your wooden decking often. Not doing so can potentially spread the damage and ruin the entire deck. With all that maintenance, your upkeep cost will eventually pile up.
Naturally, there are various types of wood, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Some are not as hard to maintain as the others. If you want to use wood, your best bet is to use the more expensive hardwoods, such as Ipe, instead of softwoods that most people use for decking.
Is PVC Easy to Maintain?
Another option that you can choose is plastic decking. One of the more popular, low-maintenance plastic decking is PVC. PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride, a type of thermoplastic used in various applications. In decking, two types of decks use PVC; one made using PVC decking boards, and one using vinyl sheets.
Because PVC is 100% plastic, it doesn’t suffer from any problems related to wood use. It’s resistant against rotting, splintering, moisture, moulds, and insects. For this reason, you will likely spend less money and time maintaining it compared to a wooden deck.
Naturally, there are still a few drawbacks with using PVC. One of the main problems regarding maintenance is its susceptibility to high temperatures. When exposed to hot weather, plastics will eventually warp. Not only that, but it will also become too hot and too uncomfortable to walk on. Because of this, you will want to keep it cool as much as possible.
Should You Use Composite Decking?
While many people refer to it as plastic decking, composites are not the same as PVC decking. However, they too are excellent low-maintenance options. Composites, also known as WPC or wood-plastic composites, are materials made from thermoplastics and wood fibres. Some companies even use recycled materials to produce their decking boards. Similar to PVC, they have a wide variety of applications, such as decking, fencing, and cladding.
Most composite decking materials today have a tough polymer capping, which shields them from elements. Like PVC, composites are resistant to moisture, moulds, and other problems you may encounter from using wood. They also do not require stains, seals, and painting. Cleaning WPC decking is also straightforward, only needing usual household products.
While similar to PVC, composites have a few advantages that you may want to consider. One of the most notable between the two is their appearance. PVC, being 100% synthetic, will often look more polished and manufactured. On the other hand, WPC features a more natural and wood-like finish. Some manufacturers also add unique grain patterns and textured surfaces to make it more look and feel like real wood.
Another notable difference is composites’ higher resistance to high temperatures. Unlike PVC, it is more dimensionally stable, due to the rigid wooden fibres used to produce it. For this reason, it’s a more suitable option for places with warm temperatures.
Which is the Best Low-Maintenance Option?
Whichever you decide to use will depend on many things. If you want a cheaper option, you can go with high-quality wood, such as Ipe. PVC is an excellent option for people who don’t mind the more synthetic polished appearance. But overall, composites are slightly better than the two, as it’s both as beautiful as wood and as easy to maintain as plastic decking.