A deck can be an extension of your home, where you gather with family and friends to share food and laughter or just to relax. But investing in a new deck is a big decision: you have to choose a material that fits your budget, complements your home’s exterior, can withstand your area’s climate, and has a level of maintenance you’re comfortable with. As a building material and decking material supplier in Wichita, Salina, and Manhattan, KS, Star Lumber created this decking buying guide to help you choose the best decking material for your new or replacement deck.

Planning/Factors to Consider

Before you start shopping for new decking, be aware that you’ll most likely need a building permit to build a deck. If you’re using a contractor, they should get the permit for you and this cost is usually included in their quote. You can check with your local government to see if a permit is required to build a deck.

When you’re ready to choose a decking material, consider the style you like, colors you want, how much exposure the deck will have to sun and moisture, and how much maintenance you’re willing to do to keep your deck looking great. These factors, along with this guide, can help you develop a realistic budget for your deck project. As you might expect, if you want an elaborate deck design, expect to pay more. If you want a low-maintenance material that will last for years to come, the initial cost will be higher than less-durable options, but you won’t have the future costs of refurbishing and replacement.

Popular Types of Decking Material

Composite Decking

If you’re looking for a long-lasting, low-maintenance material for your deck, consider composite decking. It delivers a wood look with a durable finish so there’s no need for staining. Composite decking is made from a blend of plastic and wood fiber. Additionally, composite decking boards don’t splinter, making them a comfortable choice for bare feet. They offer weather resistance, UV-resistance, and come in a variety of colors. Some types of composite decking include a plastic coating that resists mildew.

Composite decking materials come in a range of quality and prices, but it costs more than most wood decking. However, when you factor in the savings on sanding and refinishing a wood deck, it’s a worthwhile investment. You can expect composite decking to last anywhere from 25-50 years.

Pressure-Treated Wood Decking

A popular choice for budget-conscious buyers, pressure-treated wood decking is an affordable decking material option. Pine is the lowest-cost option. Pressure treated lumber is embedded with chemicals to help it resist the elements better. However, this also causes the wood to shrink over time, which will cause paint to flake. Stain is usually a longer-lasting finish for wood decking.

Wood decking must be painted or stained to protect it from the sun and rain, and it will need to be periodically sanded or stripped with a pressure washer and then refinished. The boards may crack, splinter or warp, so plan on replacing elements of your wood decking over time. With regular maintenance, a pressure-treated wood deck will last around 15 years.

Premium Wood Decking

For a longer-lasting natural wood deck, cedar and redwood are durable but more expensive options. These premium wood decking materials offer natural resistance to decay and insects. They’re rich in color and can last up to 20 years. Redwood and cedar are lightweight and stiff decking materials but they’re soft and can be damaged fairly easily.

Cedar accepts stain more easily than redwood because it has less natural oil. Redwood is fire-resistant but its availability is limited. Like any wood decking, redwood and cedar requires power washing or sanding and refinishing every few years.

Plastic, PVC and Capped Composite Decking

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) decking is a long lasting, water resistant decking material. Since PVC decking is made from plastic instead of wood, it’s lightweight, isn’t likely to warp and doesn’t have splinters. However, it won’t have the look or feel of wood. Polymer capped composite decking has a vinyl shell surrounding a composite center.

No maintenance is needed besides regular cleaning. Although it’s a more expensive option, plastic decking can last 25-30 years. PVC decking systems use special fasteners, which can make them more expensive to install and complex for a DIYer.

Shop Star Lumber for Decking Material

If you’re located in Wichita, Salina or Manhattan, KS, visit Star Lumber to shop our selection of wood and composite decking. We carry TimberTech, Azek, Deckorators, Fortress decking products. Our design specialists will help you select the right materials to create your outdoor living area and arrange installation from a professional deck contractor.