Oregon has a few things going for it, the mountains, the beaches, beautiful national parks and wonderful summers, so every Oregonian needs some space to enjoy the outdoors. That is why decks are essential to living in Oregon. A sturdy space to create an outdoor living area helps bring people together to enjoy our amazing summers.

When building, and fixing your deck you have many options to consider, but choosing the right material is paramount. Do you want something that looks nice, weathers well, doesn’t absorb the myriad weather changes we experience? Is price important or durability and longevity. These decisions must be weighed to complete or remodel a deck.

Here are a couple materials options to consider and why they could be a good choice for your next deck project.

Pressure treated wood   

This is a popular option because of its availability and price. 75 percent of all new decks are finished with pressure-treated (PT) lumber.It’s affordable, readily available coast-to-coast, and easy to cut and fasten with nails or screws. Often it is milled from yellow pine, treated to resist rot, fungus, wood boring bugs and other critters. It is not immune to can cracking, splitting and warping if not handled and cut correctly. The wood does need routine maintenance. Power washing annually and a new stain every 2-3 will keep the deck healthy and usable for years.

Redwood & Cedar

These woods are usually from the US and are darker in color. In addition, rarely are chemicals used in the milling process. This is also because of all of the natural tannins and oils resistant to rot, decay and voracious insects that occur in the wood. There are two types of these woods. Heartwood level and sapwood level. The heartwood is much harder and resistant to aging. It is also sourced from the center of the trunk. Sapwood is the softer alternative that is more susceptible to weathering. Of the two kinds, of wood redwood is pretty clear of knots, especially the heartwood cuts. Cedar comes in a few different grades, each with a range of knots concentration. The grades are architect clear, custom clear, architect knotty and custom knotty. These options cost about three times as much as pressure treated options. However, they still need annual power washing and a new coat of stain every three to four years.

Tropical Hardwood

Massaranduba, cumaru, red tauari, tigerwood, ipe, and Philippine mahogany are all different names for a wide range of tropical hardwoods used in many decks. While one of the most popular is Ipe, aka Brazilian hardwood, each of these is known for their incredible density, their resistance to weathering, rot and boring insects. Because it is so dense it is hard to cut and drill. This means sharp blades and piot holes are needed to effectively cut and fasten these boards. It is also very expensive, so budget well before purchasing a lumber pack. Stains are also very hard to use for these woods and will only absorb special oil-based stains that need multiple initial applications. You cannot provide this stain immediately because they need to be allowed to weather one to three months before finishing surface. If finishes aren’t applied the wood can get soft and fade to a silvery gray color. It is also worth noting that much of this wood can be bought illegally so checking your providers is important to find food that is fairly and sustainably sourced.

Composites

composite decking and plastic lumber materials are one of the fastest growing material areas of the industry.  The plastic composites are made from polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride and are produced in a wide variety of colors. The wood and plastic combination is produced from wood fibers and recycled plastic pieces. Because they are not made from natural materials they are very weather resistant, don’t easily stain and won’t split or warp due to handling or alterations. The full plastic composite is ever more resistant to staining and decay and is free of knots, which makes it easy to fasten and cut. While composites are cheaper than their 100% plastic alternative, they are still cheaper than most natural options, other than some pressure treated options. An added bonus is that many manufacturers offer handrails and other decorative accompanying pieces, so deck finishing is as easy as snapping on some extra pieces.

Aluminum

This is the most durable and longest lasting deck option. Aluminum decks may seem like a heat absorbing option that needs to be cleaned often but it is quite the opposite. This material is resistant to rot, rust, warp, splinter, crack or chips. It won’t change, even after years of harsh weather. It won’t attract mold and because of its finish won’t be a slippery surface in the rain. This is due in part to the powder-coated finish, which also ensures the surface won’t peel or blister after hours in the son. It does not get brittle and weak in the cold and is 100% recyclable, so future remodel can sell it back to a producer. It is stronger than the wood and composite options and is also very light, so installing is worlds easier. It can be cut with a regular circular or table saw. With interlocking edges, a watertight seal is created helping it avoid debris buildup and other messy situations. Despite being around $10 a linear foot, this options will not only last the longest but be the easiest to keep looking healthy for years.