Ask the Expert

Decking materials: Pros and cons

Q: This is the year we’ll be replacing our old deck. But with the different options for decking materials – from natural wood to synthetic composites – we’re not sure what to choose. What are the pros and cons of each material, and what things should we consider when choosing decking material?

There are many different decking options that work well in Alaska’s harsh climate. Cedar and treated hem fir are the most common wood options, but they must be regularly painted or stained to maintain their beauty and integrity. Composite decking must be chosen carefully, as some choices don’t hold up to subzero temperatures or long exposure to sunlight. We often recommend Trex Decking, which was the first composite used in Alaska and has shown great development over the last 15 years. I appreciate the thin PVC outer coating of the Trex decking boards, which helps protect the deck from scratching and fading. Trex also has a new line called Trex Tropics, which has a beautiful random streaking in the embossed wood grain, giving it a very realistic finished look. Additionally, while wood decking is guaranteed to rot and warp (it is wood, after all), Trex Decking provides a 25-year stain and fade warranty. Once it’s installed, you never have to treat the boards. That said, wood decking is typically a less costly initial investment before you take into account the painting and staining factor.

Jeannine Jabaay has been the President and Marketing Director of Treeline Construction, a remodeling company specializing in decks and home makeovers since 1999.