If you have done any research on the Internet or attended local home shows you are probably aware that there are hundreds of options for deck flooring. Luckily, they all fit into 4 basic categories. We will do our best to break them down:
We use a lot of Ipe (Brazilian Walnut) which is dense, durable and weathers well, for deck flooring and railing. Ipe has a reputation for lasting more than 75 years with little maintenance. We also are starting to use some Cumuru (Brazilian Teak) which one of the hardest woods in the world, as a slightly cheaper alternative to Ipe. We have used other woods besides these two but have had less than ideal results in some cases. Cedar and Mahogany were once popular in this area. However, we feel the quality of these woods is not as high as it once was. It seems to be softer with more knots, which causes it to be less rot resistant.
This was once a very popular option for deck floors. It was introduced under the brand name Trex in the ‘90s. But the technology has remained virtually unchanged for years, so it now has been bypassed by newer PVC technology. We have had a few too many issues with composite decks that we built in the past, so we are wary of installing it again. But if you really want to save a few bucks on your new deck, we can install it for you. Keep in mind though, you will spend much more time cleaning and keeping up a composite deck compared to a PVC one. The color and beauty of a composite deck will fade sooner, and its lifespan will be shorter as well.
Vinyl Capped Composite
The newest technology in decking combines the old (composite), with the new (PVC). These boards are basically the old composite boards, with a thin Vinyl wrap on the outside. They are a big step up from the old composite though. A composite deck board on its own will allow moisture to absorb into it, which will lead to mold, algae, and mildew issues. It also doesn’t hold up to the sunlight well, which means the color will fade much quicker. Add a vinyl shell, and you eliminate most of those issues. We still have a few questions about the technology, though it has performed well thus far. We build a deck or two a month using Vinyl Capped Composite boards. Timbertech and Trex both offer a variety of colors in Capped Composite. We have a good relationship with both companies and would recommend their products.
Vinyl Decking (Cellular PVC)
Far and away our favorite type of decking to work with, we have been using it since 2004. That's when we started using the Procell brand, which was later purchased by Azek and is now sold as Azek Deck. We have had good results with Vinyl decking over the years, though it’s biggest challenge has been oxidization. This is a chalky sort of haze that appears on the surface of the boards, after a few years of sunlight. The big manufacturers seem to have figured out how to eliminate that, and most of them are now backing their deck boards with a fade & stain warranty. Azek has a lifetime structural warranty as well as a 25-year fade and stain warranty on their vinyl decking. Keep in mind that nothing is really “maintenance free” when installing outdoors. Vinyl and Capped Composite decking will be the least amount of maintenance out of all these options.