Yesterday morning we had freezing fog. What is that all about? With weather like that, most people are huddled inside catching up on Netflix. They certainly aren’t thinking about that deck that they want to build in the backyard later this year.
Around the end of March is when those calls really start coming, and by the time May hits it has reached fever pitch. I’ll share a secret with you though. Now is the perfect time to think about that deck in the back yard–when no one else is.
That means you gain two things: time and money. Time because the deck building crews aren’t booked two months out and causing you to lose half the season. Money because we deck builders are eager to give discounts this time of year to keep the deck carpenters in practice. Think of yourself as the Warren Buffett of your back yard. Buying at the perfect time.
So let’s talk about this deck.
How do you choose the right decking materials?
Think about three basic criteria: Cost, Lifetime and Look.
Let’s take a walk through the four main types of decking:
This is a softwood, usually pine. It gets “treated” to make it last longer in the weather.
COST: LOW Lowest cost of any option. If you want to choose solely on initial cost, this is it. However, to keep it looking good over time will require powerwashing and staining every two to three years, which starts to add up.
LIFETIME: MEDIUM 15-30 years. The whole point of the treating is that it lasts for a long time without rotting.
LOOK: LOW I haven’t ever heard someone claim a treated deck is the most beautiful deck. The treatment turns it either green or a red tint that makes it look like it had a bad fake tan. Since the wood is softer, it has a tendency to crack, split and warp over time.
Summary I’ve made it sound like a horrible choice, but at roughly half the cost of a composite deck, it can be a compelling choice for someone who just wants a deck.
The classic choice
COST: MEDIUM More than treated wood and less than composite or PVC. To keep it looking good over time will require powerwashing and staining every two to three years, which will keep adding to the initial cost.
LIFETIME: LOW-MEDIUM 10-12+ years. It rots faster than the other options, but if you regularly maintain it, you can keep it around for longer.
LOOK: MID-HIGH Natural wood is still a look that is hard to beat. Cedar is a rich warm color with a grain pattern that synthetic decking companies have spent millions trying to replicate.
Summary If you don’t mind the maintenance, this is the classic choice.
Composite is made of a combination wood fibers and recycled plastic, and PVC is made of, well, PVC. This has been the fastest growing option of the decade.
COST: HIGH NOW, MEDIUM LONG TERM See what I did there? Composite will cost more upfront, but doesn’t require the level of maintenance of the wood, so that true cost overtime looks better.
LIFETIME: HIGH Because this is man-made, it is a very consistent and stable product. Resistant to staining, free of knots, checks and splinters. It doesn’t warp or split over time. Powerwash it and you are good to go
LOOK: MID-HIGH This will depend on your personal preference. There are purists out there that see manmade decking as soul-less. And the color does fade over time, although that has become less of an issue recently. But seeing a full deck with perfectly consistent boards and lines is a beautiful thing. Especially with a hidden faster so you don’t see any nails or screws.
Summary If you are willing to pay a little more up front, and like the look of the synthetics, this is the perfect choice.
Want to know more? Drop me a line. I have been building decks for over 20 years and would be happy to help. We can give an instant quote with a 10 percent winter discount on decks right now.
Interested in more information on decks? Check out my previous stories on the topic.
HOW MUCH DOES A DECK COST?
QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE CREATING YOUR NEW OUTDOOR SPACE
This weekly sponsored column is written by Lance McCarthy of ReTouch, a full-service, client-based contractor specializing in home remodels. For more information about their services, or to view samples of their work, visit their website.