I’ve recently been searching for options for exterior deck material and was curious to see how products compare to one another. There are value options available everywhere, but you have to temper your expectations when going the value route – often those products require more maintenance than more robust (read: costlier) products and generally fail long before better options. How do things stack up? See below – and note that prices will vary as time goes on so check with your installer before getting too far into your planning process.
Prices below don’t include the sub-structure, foundations, and fasteners – all decks will generally use a relatively comparable sub-structure so I’ve not taken this into account. Nor have I budgeted for any stains or topical finishes or sealers.
Pressure-treated lumber, 1×6. Cheap. Available everywhere. Can be stained. Generally screwed onto the joists with exposed fasteners. Most of the time the boards are 1×6 (actual 1″ x 5.5″ due to cross-grain shrinkage) in lengths of 8′, 12′, or sometimes 16′. PT lumber is an economical choice but may cup, split, or bow over time. Price estimate: $0.75 per linear foot / $1.65 per square foot.
Cedar decking, 1×6. Economical solution and touted to be decay-resistant. Cedar has been used for fences for decades, and has many other building material uses. It can be stained or left to weather to a silver. Unlike fencing, cedar decking should be smooth to prevent splinters, so some sanding may be needed in rough spots prior to finishing. Price estimate: $1.05 per linear foot / $2.35 per square foot.
Ipe 1×6 pre-grooved decking. Very long-lasting tropical hardwood, is very dense and insect- and rot-resistant. Can be stained or left to weather to a natural gray. Generally attached with concealed clips between the deck boards – the clips ride in the pre-cut grooves in the sides of each board. Price estimate: $3.85 per linear foot / $8.50 per square foot.
Image courtesy of Trex
Trex Transcend 1×5 composite lumber. Machine-made long-lasting composite product that has a wood-grain like finish. I’ve seen warranties as long as 25-years on Trex products, and the manufacturer claims the product will not rot, cup, or mold. One of the key features of this and other man-made decking is when it gets dirty, simply wash off with water. I have heard that some composite products heat up in the summer sun, so you may want to experiment with a sample left out in the August sun to see for yourself how hot it may get. Price estimate: $3.95 per linear foot / $9.40 per square foot.
Image courtesy of Tru-Grain
Tru-Grain 1×6 made with Resysta. Composite product similar to Trex. Manufacturer’s literature states it will not splinter, swell or crack and is resistant to weather, pests and fungal decay. Bonus feature is some of their products come with one smooth side and one textured side so you can decide in the field which finish you want. I’ve heard this product doesn’t heat up in the sun like Trex may, but again, check it out ahead of time. Price estimate: $4.65 per linear foot / $10.25 per square foot. Note Tru-Grain has a special fastening system that adds about $1.00 per square foot of deck installed, but it is a concealed clip system that looks very easy to install.
Teak Deck and Railings
Teak lumber. Natural tropical hardwood that can be stained but usually left to weather to a silver-gray. Teak is sourced from exotic tropical locations and thus ridiculously expensive but ridiculously (how do I say this) choice. It seems to be the decking of choice for fine yacht builders so you know it stands up to the marine environment. Price estimate: $6.80 per linear foot / $15.00 per square foot.
This post was originally written before re-branding as Eckxstudio for Modern Architecture at the end of 2017.
At Eckxstudio for Modern Architecture, we design unique and stunning projects, individually crafted for our clients’ lives. We’re passionate about listening to your needs, wants and desires as inspiration to design the dream home you’ll never want to leave.