When it comes time to map out a deck building plan, you may be unsure as to which deck material will meet your needs.

Wood is a versatile and attractive decking material. Some people think that wood is too expensive and requires too much maintenance. In fact, domestic softwoods can be very cost-effective decking options and wood decks retain considerable resale value. In terms of maintenance, choosing a rot-resistant wood can result in less maintenance. Durable woods include cedar and redwood – both species contain tannins and oils that make them naturally resistant to decay, rot and voracious insects. Periodic cleaning and inspection/repairs will be needed, but wood can be much more durable than people may think.

Composite decking and its close cousin, plastic lumber, are some of the fastest-growing decking materials on the market. Many products are made from polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride. Some composites will be comprised of recycled plastic and wood fibers to create a weather and stain-resistant material that doesn’t warp, rot or splinter. Composite manufacturers continually experiment with manufacturing processes to duplicate the look of natural wood grain. Homeowners are often drawn to composite decking because such decks require little maintenance. These decks do not need to be sanded, stained or refinished. However, mold and mildew can grow in shady, damp areas, so homeowners must realize that these products are not completely maintenance-free.

Aluminum decks are not seen that often, but there are reasons why this decking material is becoming more popular. Power-coated aluminum does not need to be replaced due to rotting, cracking or warped boards. Most planks have interlocking edges that create gap-free, watertight decks. Aluminum also has the advantage of being a very strong but lightweight material. Some people may think that aluminum decks would be hot underfoot, but the material actually stays cooler in the sun because of its heat dissipation properties. For those who have green goals in mind, aluminum is totally recyclable.

Various decking materials can meet the look, price point and maintenance level homeowners desire.