If you are planning to build a deck, you’ll want one that can last through the years. However, with multiple options for decking materials, it may be hard to choose which one to use. The most popular materials are wood, plastic, and composite decking. But the question is, what is the longest lasting deck material? 

Wood Decking Options

One of the most popular options for decking is wood. Wood is cheap, easy to work with, and aesthetically pleasing. However, how long can wood decking last? 

There are various qualities of wood, but you can classify them into two; softwoods and hardwoods. Softwoods are cheaper and more common, whereas hardwoods are more expensive and rarer. In terms of lifespan, a softwood deck can last anywhere between 5 to 10 years. Most hardwood decking, on the other hand, can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years. Rarer and more expensive varieties can last longer. 

Unless you’re using the best hardwoods for your deck, you can expect a significantly shorter lifespan than other decking material options. But why is this so? Wood is highly prone to moisture damage, which can considerably shorten its lifespan. It can cause rotting, splintering, and warping. It also doesn’t help that most wood decks are high-maintenance. If you don’t clean, inspect, stain and seal your deck, the likelihood to encounter these issues increases.

Overall, wood has the shortest lifespan for decking, due to its susceptibility to many potential problems. However, a well-maintained hardwood deck, such as Ipe, can still be a long-lasting deck option.

Plastic Decking Materials

Plastic materials are popular non-wood alternatives for decking. There are various types of plastics used for decking, but most people use PVC. PVC, which stands for polyvinyl chloride or more commonly known as vinyl, is a material made out of plastic. Compared to wood, it’s more expensive, yet more durable. 

So how long does plastic decking last? Generally, it lasts longer than most wooden decks. A PVC deck can last at least 20 years. However, it still depends on the quality and how well-maintained the deck is. The good news is, vinyl decks are easier to maintain. Because they’re waterproof, you don’t have to worry about sealing or staining them. 

Naturally, there are some disadvantages of using plastic materials for decking. PVC and other synthetic plastics are susceptible to high temperatures. Prolonged exposure to hot weather will cause the boards to warp and bend. Because of this, it may not be the best for places with hot climates. 

While some people don’t mind, vinyl decking’s appearance may be a downside for some. While it’s not necessarily unattractive, they do look synthetic, having a more polished finish. 

Composite Decking Materials

longest lasting decking material

Another non-wood decking material that you can choose is composite. Unlike PVC, however, it’s not made out of pure plastic. Instead, it uses both plastic polymers and wood fibres. Because of this, it has both the advantages of wood and PVC decking. 

How durable is composite decking? Composite decks are as long-lasting as PVC decks. However, you will want to look for capped composites, ones that have an exterior thermoplastic layer, which shields it from various elements. They’re more resistant to water, moulds, and rotting. A composite deck can easily last 20 years. And similar to vinyl decks, it doesn’t require as much maintenance compared to wood. 

While composite materials are quite similar to vinyl, there are a few advantages of using it instead. In general, composites are slightly less expensive than plastic. It’s also more resistant to high temperatures. Since it has wooden fibres, it helps keep the boards dimensionally stable, even when exposed to hot weather for long periods. 

Lastly, composites will look different compared to PVC, despite being both synthetic options. Composite materials look more like wood and feature a more rustic and natural finish. If you want to have a wood-looking deck without any drawbacks of using real wood, composites are the best.

The Longest Lasting Deck Material

If you want a long-lasting deck, there are various options that you can choose. If you wish to use wood, you will have to use hardwoods. Softwood materials are not a good option, as not only are they short-lived, but high-maintenance as well. Vinyl is low-maintenance and long-lasting, but it will not look as natural as wood. Lastly, composite is both durable and aesthetically-pleasing, making them the best if you want a deck that can last for decades.