Maintaining wooden decking can be quite the headache. Mercifully, it doesn't need to be done all that often, but when it does? So much effort! It might need to be cleaned and treated, sanded down and then refinished. It's possible to sidestep a huge amount of effort when it comes to maintaining your decking, and it all comes down to the choice of materials. So if you're building a deck or are considering upgrading your existing decking, choosing the right materials can save you a lot of labour down the road.
Exotic, imported hardwoods make for high-end decking, but they also come with a high-end price tag. Whether it's teak, mahogany or another type of tropical imported hardwood, you know that your decking will be durable and won't require too much maintenance. The density of these woods combined with their natural components make them highly resistant to insects, rotting or even mildew. A small amount of discolouration can be expected due to sunlight, but occasional varnishing will certainly offset this effect.
There can be a moral quandary due to the rarity of these types of hardwoods. This is why you need to ensure that the wood in question has come from a Forest Stewardship Council plantation, meaning that the trees in question have been taken from a renewable source. You can also opt for re-purposed hardwood that has been taken from another construction. This means that no new trees will have been harvested to construct the decking, and it often has the added advantage of being pre-weathered.
This is perhaps the best choice in terms of cost and the end result. Composite timber decking is comprised of wood pulp that has been processed along with recycled plastic fibres into something that resembles real timber. The plastic component gives the decking density and, much like hardwood, it's protected against insect invasion and rotting. It's not prone to discolouration either and can generally be cleaned with nothing more than a broom and your garden hose.
Plastic decking is essentially fake wood. It's not to everyone's taste, but it can be a good choice for high traffic areas or if you own a rental property. It can be made to resemble a wide variety of woods, is highly durable and won't degrade as organic wood can. It doesn't feel like wood, and this can put a number of potential purchasers off. Having said that, this cost-effective and durable choice of decking has some advantages in a number of cases.
These three choices for decks won't require all that much maintenance (which is one less thing to worry about at home), and it really just comes down to balancing the amount of money you want to spend with your desired end result.