The COVID-19 pandemic has seen more people than ever spending money in their own backyards to create a safe space to unwind and eventually spend time with extended family and friends. Decks have been particularly popular, but there are so many considerations to keep in mind when building the type of deck that best meets your needs and budget. That’s why we’ve compiled some details below to help make building and using your new deck even more enjoyable.
Your budget will ultimately determine the size, design and materials used for your deck. Be sure to include permits and labour if you’re going to have it designed and built by a professional. Also consider any customizations you hope to include with your deck, such as railings, flowerboxes, built-in seating and lighting.
As is the case with all projects, a deck costs less if you build it yourself. Simple platform decks have a clean, classic appeal and they’re easy to build. But if you want something more detailed, this is a project for an experienced do-it-yourselfer or professional only.
It’s important to decide whether you want the deck built quickly or if you can take the time to do it yourself. Be honest about whether you want to spend hours sawing and nailing wood – and if this project is even in your wheelhouse – or if you prefer to hire an experienced contractor. It’s important to note that, if you try this project and fail, you can end up spending way more time and money than anticipated to have someone come in at a later date and fix/finish the deck.
Deck materials: Composite vs wood
A deck is truly a long-term investment – whether you choose to stay in the home and enjoy it personally or sell the property down the road for someone else’s use. Life expectancy is 10-30 years if made from untreated wood and up to 50 years for treated wood or composite materials.
Both wood and composite materials are available in low and high quality, which will alter pricing and longevity accordingly. Composite materials require less maintenance compared to wood, so you can expect to pay more – about twice the cost of a wood deck.
Many people prefer using real wood for their decks because of its natural, warm appearance. That said, however, the type of lumber you choose for a wooden deck is vital to its durability and the level of maintenance required to keep it looking great for years.
A common and inexpensive option is pressure-treated wood. This type of wood is made from fir soaked in anti-rot and insecticide agents. Its natural colour is a brown-green, but you can stain it for a more attractive colour. There’s a reason why this is the most inexpensive option for decking: it’s susceptible to warping, splitting and cracking, so it requires regular maintenance.
If you prefer the natural route, weather-resistant woods such as cedar or redwood are great choices. These types of decks are beautiful and resistant to warping, cracking or other weather-related damage. Redwood is usually more expensive than cedar and, in general, these types of decks cost about three times the price of treated lumber.
Composite decking materials are growing in popularity mainly because they require less upkeep. You never have to sand, refinish or stain it! Composed primarily of a mix of recycled plastic and wood fibres, you can choose from an array of colours to mimic a more natural wood look.
Regardless of the type of material you choose, every deck requires ongoing maintenance.
Natural wood decks are the most demanding as they need annual refinishing, which sometimes means sanding, removal of last year’s finish and application of a new finish. If you love the look of natural wood and you’re okay with the upkeep, it’s definitely worth it.
Pressure-treated wood requires refinishing with a clear sealer or stain every other year, which is half the maintenance of a natural wood deck.
For composite-material decks, no refinishing is required, but the materials can become mouldy if they’re not properly cleaned at least every 3-4 years.
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