The Finest Decking Options for Your Needs
At West Coast Decks our estimators spend as much time as necessary explaining the many product options available for your new deck. By far the most discussed topic during the bidding process is the type of decking and railing that best fit your needs.
The decking boards (the surface that you walk on) are the focal point of most decks and the largest part of the deck expense. Today’s decking choices boil down to 3 different types.
1) Natural wood decking
2) Synthetic or manufactured decking
3) Waterproof membrane decking
The least expensive type of decking would be natural wood decking such as cedar or outdoor wood. A cedar deck properly built and maintained should give about 20 years of life here in the Pacific Northwest. It should be noted at this point that ALL types of decking in our climate require routine cleaning to remove and prevent the buildup of mildew and other organic growth. Outdoor Wood is treated hem-fir that does not have the incising marks found on ground contact hem-fir, which is primarily used as deck framing material.
Other natural woods would include hard wood such as IronWood, IPE, Mahogony, etc. These types of deck boards still require routine maintenance, including cleaning and the application of protective, penetrating treatments, usually done annually.
Synthetic decking makes up at least 90% of the decks we build. Even though this type of decking is somewhat more expensive than cedar decking for example, it really does last longer and is easier to maintain. Synthetic decking products have evolved in appearance, consistency, and durability, since entering decking market in the early 1900’s. There are many different manufacturers currently making synthetic decking today. We have worked with four major companies since we started using synthetic decking in the mid-1900’s. Those four are:
These companies have proven their commitment to making quality deck boards, providing excellent service, and standing behind their products over the long term.
There are two types of synthetic decking boards. PVC and Composite.
Today’s composite boards are very different from what we started with back in the 1990’s. The original composite boards (made up of plastics and wood fibers tending to scratch, stain, and fade. Today’s composite decking has an outer protective shell to protect the composite core and prevent most all scratching, staining, and fading.
This board is usually referred to as encapsulated composite decking
PVC deck boards do not contain any wood fiber and therefore are more resistant to scratching, staining, and fading than the earlier regular composite decking boards. This type of deck board is usually a bit more expensive than encapsulated composite decking and may require the framework to be built closer together.
All the top four companies offer both types of synthetic decking. TimberTech and Azek are basically the same company as Azek purchased TimberTech some years back. Azek provides the PVC decking and TimberTech provides the encapsulated composite decking.
The TREX company has both the PVC and the encapsulated composite decking available, as does Fiberon. Each company also provides multiple grades and styles of their products. The main difference between these grades and styles would be pricing and appearance.
A final note on synthetic decking. When asked which the best board is to use, we advise going with the one that is pleasing to your eye, the one that provides the look you like the best. It is our experience the performance between all these deck boards is consistent.
Waterproof deck surfaces provide a dry area below the deck. For example, if you have a patio area below your deck, a waterproof deck surface could make that area into a usable outdoor space. A waterproof deck will have a slope from the house to the outside of the deck of at least ¼” per foot. A waterproof membrane is applied over a plywood deck surface to completely seal the deck and the area below. We only use the Weather Dek membrane system for our waterproof decks.
Just like deck surface products, there are many rail choices to sort through for your deck.
The following is a list of the more popular railing materials we offer.
1) Wood rails
Most wood rails are built using Western Red cedar posts, caps, spindles, and upper/lower rails. This type of rail does require protective coating and cleaning. Please visit our railing gallery to see examples of aluminum rails.
3) Composite rails
The same companies that make synthetic decking products, also provide synthetic rail systems. These systems are usually more expensive than metal or wood. Please visit our railing gallery to see examples of composite rails.
2) Powder coated aluminum rails
Without a doubt the most popular rails we provide. These rails do not require protective coatings and are easy to clean. We offer aluminum rails with pickets, glass panels, SS cables, etc. Please visit our railing gallery to see examples of aluminum rails.
4) Mix and match
We have the capability of combining different rail materials to create a railing that fits your eye and budget. The railing on a deck is a focal point when viewing the deck from inside or outside the home. Please visit our railing gallery to see examples of “combo” rail systems.