Decking Decisions

Did you spend much of the summer wishing you had a better deck? If you act quickly, fall may be the time to address that issue.

If you can make some decking decisions, you are readying to get a deck project underway. Perhaps the most important decision is what decking materials you will use.

Traditional deck materials

Natural wood is a long-time favorite. It looks great, and adds a natural element that seems right at home in the landscape. However in the maritime Pacific Northwest weather, natural wood takes a beating and requires regular maintenance to extend its life. Pressure-treated wood will last longer (and should be used anywhere there is ground contact) but eventually it, too, will rot. Note that pressure-treated wood won’t work for the visible and usable surfaces of your deck — it fails to provide a clean, quality presentation.

The new composite woods

As a traditionalist, it took me a long time to accept composite wood as a viable alternative for building decks. Just a few years ago the only composite materials were flimsy and fake looking. But today there are some true contenders — an array of excellent, natural-looking options in a variety of realistic-looking finishes and colors. In fact, it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between real wood and composite counterparts. The benefits of using composites are obvious: they are much more attractive than pressure-treated wood and they offer many more options for color, texture and grain than traditional natural wood. Best of all, composites require much less maintenance — possibly just a yearly power washing.

Don’t expect a bargain with composites, but do expect less maintenance, no yearly painting or staining, easy cleaning, and an indefinite lifespan if quality materials are used. You’ll save money, headaches and time!

The ironwood option

Purists should consider the natural hardwoods known as ironwood. They come with a premium price tag and are more difficult to work with, which adds labor costs. However, ironwood is a good option for longevity, requires less maintenance and provides a handsome appearance superior to that of other of natural woods.

Paint is never a solution

In my case, I inherited an older natural wood deck. It’s still holding its own due to the vintage quality of the wood, but it takes annual maintenance to keep it looking good and protected from the elements.  After years of maintenance, replacements, painting and staining this deck, I am now considering a composite option. Note that you should never paint a deck under any circumstances — unless you are prepared to deal with it as an on-going pet project or a high-maintenance addition to the family.

Next steps for your deck project

Experienced landscape designers can help you evaluate design and materials options based on your budget. We know what’s out there and can help you make informed choices.

Please contact us if you’d like to find out more about decking and other landscape design projects.





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