10 Deck Materials for Outdoor Living

Margaret Wack
Written by Margaret Wack
Updated December 10, 2021
A large deck overlooking the woods
Photo: james_pintar / Adobe Stock

Choose a deck material that enhances your outdoor lifestyle

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Choosing the right material for your deck can help you create a luxurious outdoor living room or a new space to park your grill. Different decking options have varying price points, maintenance requirements, and aesthetics, so it’s a good idea to review your options before making a final decision. We’ll cover some common types of decking materials, along with other factors to consider when choosing a material for your deck.

1. Ipe Wood Decking

Close-up of ipe wood decking
Photo: Radoslav / Adobe Stock

Natural wood like ipe is a classic option for an outdoor deck with a timeless aesthetic. A deck made from this material may be more prone to splinters and slippery areas. Ipe decking is one of the most expensive types of wood decking. It costs about $20 to $25 per square foot and can last from 30 to 75 years.

2. Redwood Decking

Succulent plants on a redwood deck
Photo: irisphotoimages / Adobe Stock

Redwood decking is stylish, affordable, and aesthetically appealing, making it a great option for your deck. Redwood decking only costs $4 to $6 per square foot, which means you can likely build a redwood deck on a modest budget. Redwood decking does fade more quickly and can be prone to scuffs and scratches. Decks made from materials like redwood, even if the deck boards are well-maintained, may need replacement in less than 20 years.

3. Cedar Decking

Outdoor cedar deck with blooming tress surrounding it
Photo: tab62 / Adobe Stock

Cedar decking is another attractive natural wood option for your deck. While slightly less common than redwood decking, cedar decking shares many of the same positive qualities. Cedar decking costs between $4 and $9 per linear foot and $20 to $40 per square foot for labor. Cedar decking fades quickly but can be re-stained to maintain a stylish appearance and typically lasts around 20 years.

4. Bamboo Decking

 A bamboo deck with a dining table and chairs
Photo: AePatt Journey / Adobe Stock

Bamboo is a relatively new and environmentally friendly type of decking material. It’s inexpensive, lightweight, and costs between $4 and $6 per square foot on average. While not as durable as some other decking options, it’s a great natural decking choice with a unique appearance.

5. Mahogany Decking

Mahogany decking isn’t as common as other decking materials, which means it can be a little harder to find. That said, a mahogany deck makes a great first impression with a rich, reddish-brown hue. Mahogany decking costs between $8 and $30 per square foot on average. Like other types of wood decking, it tends to be less durable and requires more maintenance than synthetic options.

6. Pressure-Treated Pine

A pressure-treated pine deck in the backyard of a wooden house
Photo: Iriana Shiyan / Adobe Stock

Pressure-treated pine is one of the most common types of natural wood decking, and it typically costs $10 to $12 per square foot. While pressure-treated pine is initially cheaper than many other types of decking, it usually doesn’t last as long. Most pressure-treated pine decks only last about 10 to 15 years.

7. Composite Decking

A composite decking in the backyard of a colonial style house
Photo: jStock / Adobe Stock

Composite decking is made from wood fiber mixed with plastic. With an average composite decking cost of $25 to $54 per square foot, it combines many of the perks and benefits of both wood decking and synthetic decking. Composite decking is typically more durable and requires less maintenance than wood decking. It also looks more natural than synthetic decking.

However, composite decking does have some drawbacks. This type of decking is soft and easily scratched by moving furniture. It also tends to fade due to sun exposure over time and can absorb moisture, which means that it may grow mold and not last as long as synthetic decking.

8. Capped Composite Decking

Capped composite decking is similar to composite decking but includes a thin layer of hard plastic on the outside. The additional layer of plastic helps to protect your deck against damage, making it more resistant to scratches, sun damage, and staining. Capped composite decking still isn’t as sturdy as synthetic decking, so it can still be vulnerable to damage and fading.

9. Synthetic Decking

If you’re looking for a super low-maintenance decking option, synthetic or vinyl decking (containing PVC) is a great choice. It costs an average of $5 to $13 per square foot. Synthetic decking is durable, difficult to scratch, and resistant to fading and water damage. This decking tends to be more expensive to install upfront, but you’ll save on maintenance costs over time.

One downside to synthetic decking is that it doesn’t have the classic, natural look, and feel of traditional wood decking. Synthetic decking does come in a variety of different color and style options, so you can choose an appearance that fits your home’s style.

10. Aluminum Decking

Aluminum decking isn’t quite as common as wood, composite, or synthetic decking, but it’s still an option worth considering. Aluminum decking is waterproof and requires little maintenance. It costs $6 to $15 per square foot and can last 30 to 50 years. Remember that aluminum isn’t an ideal choice for coastal areas since saltwater can corrode the metal.

A local deck builder can walk you through decking materials and the design that best fits your home, so you can focus on planning your next outdoor bash. 

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