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Planning A Deck

Learn about decking materials and get helpful advice for what you should consider when planning your new deck-building project.

deck planning buying guide, deck building materials

Things to Consider when Planning a Deck

decking materials chart

Thinking of building a deck? Think ahead. Most deck planning starts with the usual photo-op in mind, including hammocks, umbrella drinks and giant friend-filled fiestas. Yet rarely do such plans budget for the maintenance you'll need to do in years to come, such as keeping up with restraining and water sealing or dealing with leftover blotches from sunscreen spatters and red wine spills. And what about a summer’s worth of fade marks where the table and doormat used to be?

When it comes to building a deck, it’s worth thinking long-term. The following five decision points will help you choose what’s right for you, your backyard and your budget.

Decking Materials

Capped Composite Decking: The ultimate in backyard decking, capped composite is wrapped in a tough-as-nails finish that keeps the beauty in and the work out.

PVC (or Vinyl) Decking: Polyvinyl chloride is an all-plastic material with no organic content that makes it ultra-low-maintenance.

Traditional Composite Decking: Part wood, part plastic, this first-generation wood alternative board is all easygoing.

Wood Decking: For the purist, a wood deck is real and natural, with a pleasing heft.

Labor

The cost of building a deck can be expensive. It’s important to consider whether or not this is a DIY project or one best left to the pros. Some of the hidden costs may surprise you. For instance, composites are as easy-to-handle as wood and usually require no special tools, while PVC is more difficult to customize.

Caution

Before beginning any excavation, check for underground utilities. Call the North America One Call Referral Service at 1-888-258-0808 (or just dial 811) for a national directory of utility companies.

Maintenance

Beyond the initial premium cost of composite decking, the cost of maintaining and replacing other, initially less expensive products can add up. Often, in five to 10 years, the relative costs of power washing, water seal and stain even out.

Beauty

Some materials enable customizable design options from curves to multiple colors and wood-grain patterns, while others are more limited in scope. When choosing a material for your project, keep your priorities in mind: Are you looking for great design options, the best value or maybe a product that offers a balance of both?

Return on Investment

Some products add more value and joy to a home than others. The more carefree and eco-friendly the deck, the more attractive it could be to potential homebuyers.

Caution

Contact your local building department for code guidelines and requirements. Also consult with your homeowner's association when planning for your new deck.