Designing your dream deck? Before construction begins, take the time to consider what your deck will be made of. Today, there are lots of different materials available, including both wood and non-wood options. When choosing a decking material, consider factors like cost, durability, and upkeep. Of course, the look of the deck is also a major aspect you won’t want to overlook. You can find decking materials in countless colors to complement your home’s exterior.

Pressure-Treated Lumber

Pressure-treating is a type of preservative process that helps wood better withstand the elements. The chemicals added during preservation also help prevent fungal decay and damage from termites and microorganisms. Pressure-treated lumber is widely available, affordable, and found in varieties like southern yellow pine, Douglas fir, and ponderosa pine.

While pressure-treated lumber can create an amazing deck, there are some downfalls to consider. First, know that you will have to seal the wood. If left unsealed, the deck will slowly begin to crack and fall apart. Pressure-treated lumber is also susceptible to splitting and warping.

Redwood and Cedar

Redwood and cedar are types of softwoods derived from evergreen trees. These versatile woods are fairly durable and able to resist the elements and natural decay. Redwood and cedar are also affordable and can be sanded and stained a variety of colors. In addition, cedar and other natural woods are considered environmentally friendly compared to synthetic alternatives.

While softwoods like redwood and cedar are cost-effective and eco-conscious, they are not built for heavy traffic flow. Due to their porous nature, softwood decks scratch and damage easily. They also have a shorter life expectancy, about 15 to 20 years. While redwood and cedar do offer visual appeal, they do not deliver the more upscale look that certain tropical hardwoods provide.


Composite decking is made of wood fiber and plastic combined with pigments, borate preservatives, and inhibitors. Texture is often added to give the material a wood-like appearance. Many manufacturers of composite decking offer a 25-year or limited lifetime warranty that includes issues like scratches and stains. Upkeep is simple and requires just some light scrubbing with soapy water.

One of the biggest drawbacks that comes with composite decking is its cost. Decks built with composite materials often cost two to five times more than decks built with pressure-treated wood. Composite planks also tend to be heavier than standard wood planks.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC has become a popular decking material and is made from durable plastic resin. This versatile decking option can be used in a wide range of layouts, including single-platform or multi-level decks. There’s also a wide color selection and countless surface textures to choose from. PVC is also very affordable, easy to install, and low-maintenance, as it requires no staining, painting, or special treatments.

While PVC is highly resilient and comes with excellent warranties, there are some negative aspects to consider. As PVC is essentially plastic, it can crack and suffer other types of damage that are difficult to repair. If your deck is exposed to direct sunlight, it can experience UV damage, which can make it brittle and susceptible to cracks. PVC decking can also fade over time.