When it comes to choosing the right deck board today, you may be a bit overwhelmed by all the choices.
It wasn’t too long ago that there weren’t as many options when considering the deck board.
Now, you can choose from a variety of types of decking. They include pressure-treated wood, composite, aluminum, redwood, cedar, and many more.
Let’s take a look at how the evolution of the deck board has changed over time.
“Thirty years ago, it was easy to choose the perfect decking material. People generally chose their deck board from among the few options then available, namely, pressure treated lumber, cedar, or, more seldom redwood” (A Modern History of Decking Materials). At this time, wood decking was very different than the decking made today. Back then, decking materials were made from first-generation trees” (A Modern History of Decking Material). This meant that the trees were slow grown and yielded a higher density. That makes the wood more resistant to rot and insects. Today, trees grow quickly. They are produced from tree farms and do not necessarily share the same properties as first-generation trees.
There are several types of wood decking:
Most PT decking is milled from southern yellow pine and chemically treated to resist rot, fungus, and insects. “The downside of PT lumber is that it’s not very dimensionally stable, so it has a tendency to crack, split and warp. And routine maintenance is necessary to prolong the life and look of the deck” (Your Ultimate Guide to the 5 Material that Make a Modern Deck).
Redwood and Cedar
The Redwood and Cedar options have been popular for over 50 years and contain tannins and oils that make them naturally resistant to rot, decay, and voracious insects. However, to maintain the wood’s natural color, you’ll need to apply a stain and power wash and coat the finish every three to four years.
It’s true that “tropical hardwoods have been available since the 1960s and have remained a popular choice in decking for the past 50 years” (A Modern History of Decking). But “…hardwood harvesting is an environmental concern in many parts of the world, the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) approves hardwood harvested in a sustainable manner” (A Modern History of Decking). For example, these exotic woods are extremely hard and durable while also being naturally resistant to rot and insects; the amount and speed of fading depend upon the deck’s exposure to the sun, rain, and snow.
“The Early 1990s saw the birth of composite decking board” (A Modern History of Decking). This was due to the scarcity of first-generation trees and the backlash of boards made of less mature trees, which proved to be of more inferior quality. Composite boards combine wood fiber with plastic, also known as WPCs. However, over time, even WPCs began to show signs of undesirable properties. “WPCs were built from thermoplastics and wood flour – often recycled – which would sag, crumble, crack, split, expand and contract dramatically over time when installed and left baking in direct sunlight” (A Modern History of Decking).
In the early 2000s, companies began to phase out the “weak link” in composite decking, which led to the making of PVC, a plastic decking board. While plastic is low maintenance and will never need to be sanded, refinished, or stained, it can cause issues for those living in areas that experience a great deal of heat. In a study done by Wahoo Decks in 90-degree weather, plastic was the hottest when compared to other decking boards.
Check out the video to see how AridDek aluminum decking, pressure-treated pine, IPE, PVC, and composite fare in 90-degree weather in Georgia.
Capstock Deck Board
In 2009, the decking market saw the rise of Capstock decking. Capstock is a combination of composites and plastics. Capstock is environmentally friendly and offered in a variety of shades. However, there’s no substitute for proper installation and sealing. Otherwise, swelling can occur in the deck board. “And, over time, as water seeps into the decking, it’s safe to assume that the softwood fibers within the deck board itself will soak up that material and start to produce mold” (What is Capstock Decking?). These are all factors to consider when it comes to Capstock decking.
The latest technology in decking is aluminum, such as AridDek by Wahoo Decks. While aluminum is the newest to the family of deck boards, it is ideal for many reasons. “When compared with wood, composite and plastic lumber, aluminum decking is three to four times lighter, yet two to three times stronger. The same saws and carbide-tipped blades can cut this wood” (Your Ultimate Guide to the 5 Materials That Make a Modern Deck). Aluminum is also top-notch when it comes to safety, as it is slip-resistant and fireproof. Also, you’ll feel good helping to protect the environment by using 100% recyclable aluminum, an environmentally-friendly decking material.
“The technologically advanced decking products boast a number of different attributes and offer deck builders and homeowners a greater range of choices than ever before.” – LBM, The Deck Issue, April 2013
From wood to aluminum, decking has changed quite a bit over the years. There are a variety of products available. Furthermore, the decking industry continues to grow and transform. So, we can be sure that the deck board will also only continue to evolve.
About Wahoo Decks:
Headquartered in Dahlonega, Georgia, Wahoo Decks is a leading manufacturer of award-winning outdoor decking products. Wahoo products have been engineered to be uniquely low maintenance and more resistant to natural elements than traditional decking products. Wahoo Decks offers AridDek, a waterproof aluminum decking product, DryJoistEZ (U.S. Pat. No. 8,276,344), a revolutionary waterproof and structural exterior aluminum joist, and Wahoo Rail, a complete line of aluminum railing kits. For more information about Wahoo Decks, visit www.WahooDecks.com.