How to choose outdoor deck flooring materials?
Flooring is one of the most important features to have in mind when it comes to installing a deck or outdoor space. When choosing the floor material for our patio deck, we must take into consideration the climate conditions of the area in which we live. Being an outdoor space, the deck floor must be able to withstand harsh weather conditions such as changes in temperature, snow, rain or sunlight exposure.
Picking The Right Flooring for Your Deck
The options range from several varieties of hard and softwood to composite materials, which combine plastic with wood fibers. Elements to be assessed include the level of resistance of the material, its defense against decay, susceptibility to deformation and splintering over time, and its ability to retain its finish over the years. Other elements to consider are costs and overall appearance.
Those who prefer a natural look opt for real wood. Wooden decks are usually cheaper than composite decks and require a little more maintenance to counteract the wear and tear typical of large open spaces. Each type of wood has its benefits and characteristics. On the other hand, composite decking tends to be a little more expensive; however, its low maintenance allows customers to recover the costs in the long term.
Let’s review some of the most popular deck tops available on the market:
This is the ultimate alternative in outdoor flooring. Composite decks are made of artificial materials consisting of a blend of plastic or synthetic resin, and organic filling such as wood fibers, bamboo or rice hulls. Composite is often chosen for poolsides because it is non-slip and minimizes hazards in wet areas.
For a long time, this material was not highly recommended because the composite did not look very good and was prone to deformation. But composite decking has made great advances in its aesthetics and construction. Composite decking companies now use more natural materials such as bamboo, which is a very durable, organic and anti-microbial material. They can now give composite the more natural look that so many homeowners desire. More and more people are choosing composite material because it is a low maintenance option that can often look as good as a wooden deck and sometimes even better.
- Low maintenance: cleaning is simplified by spraying with a hose without the need for grinding.
- Tough and resistant: they withstand harsh weather conditions. They will not rot, split or splinter after drying. They can withstand moisture and will not corrode with chemicals such as cleaners or disinfectants.
- Easy installation: easy to install because they come as panels with a click system.
- Natural materials: composite decking is made of natural materials like bamboo.
- Clean up the planet: many companies will use recycled plastics in their process.
- Better looking: composite decks are becoming more attractive as companies develop and can sometimes imitate the look of real wood quite well.
- Warranty: most composite products come with a 20-year warranty.
- Surface color: with time, the composite colors, like traditional pressure-treated wood, will fade. This may represent a real problem, as composite decking relies on manufactured colors to give it a more realistic look.
- Mold: any surface can grow mold, and a composite deck is no different.
- Cost: generally is more expensive than a wood deck.
- It contains plastic: not everyone is happy with the fact that one of its components is plastic. Mostly, since not all companies use recycled plastic.
- Unnatural look: Some people don’t like the lack of a natural look, especially since even composite material is susceptible to scratching and looking worse than wood.
A traditional wooden deck is usually built out of Cedar. Cedar decks are less expensive than some composite options and exotic wood decks and tend to create a more rustic look. Cedar has the natural aesthetics of traditional wood, such as knots and beautiful wood grain. It is naturally resistant to rot and insects because it has natural resins and works best for higher-level decks, and vertical elements such as railings. As a softwood, cedar requires a clear stain or coating every three to five years, depending on exposure to the natural elements. It can withstand a lot of wear and tear and will not split or warp in most climates.
- Naturally tough: natural resins make it resistant to rot, decay and insect attack, making it an excellent choice for any outdoor area.
- Natural materials: as it is natural wood, cedar does not have plastic components like composite deckings.
- More economical: it is much cheaper than composite and exotic woods.
- Natural look: cedar deckings have the characteristic beauty and aesthetics of traditional wood. Its finishes and shades are very beautiful and possess a characteristic aroma.
- Light and pliable: Cedar is easy to work and can be adapted to any type of architecture.
- Deformations: there is a slight risk of bending and cracking over time.
- Requires maintenance: requires coating every three to five years, especially if exposed to the natural elements.
- Not suitable for ground-level decks: can deteriorate faster when used for ground-level decks or for shaded decks that are slow to dry out.
Pressure-treated pine has been chemically treated to increase rot resistance and prevent damage from insects. Pressure-treated pine is the least expensive wood you can use for exterior decking. However, it is one of the materials that require the most maintenance. We recommend cleaning, sanding, dyeing, or sealing the floor every one or two years to preserve a pressure-treated pine deck. A pressure-treated floor will last 10 to 15 years if treated well.
Pine is stainable, hard enough to resist abuse, and many brands carry a lifetime limited warranty. But beware, not all treated woods are created equal, as inexpensive treated wood is often full of moisture and will shrink unevenly and twist when it dries.
- Cost-Effective: Compared to Cedar and composite decking, pressure-treated pine is the most cost-effective option.
- Resistance to rotting and insects: the chemicals used in the treatment of pressure-treated pine prevents rot and also act as an insecticide.
- Ground Contact: based on newly revised guidelines, most pressure-treated wood is now approved for ground contact, which means that the wood will be treated twice as much, and therefore, may be used for constructions at heights closer to the ground.
- Warranty: most lumber manufacturers offer a long-term warranty, which generally covers fungal decay and termite infestation.
- Harmful: even though industry standards have changed, the chemicals applied to treat pressure-treated pine are harmful to the environment.
- Discoloration: pine is a natural product, so it is going to be affected by the elements, but the process may be slowed through the application of stain or paint.
- Wood splits: as water enters and leaves the wood, it causes it to expand and contract, thus causing wood splits. To avoid this, pine needs to be water-sealed regularly. A water sealant should be applied every year and stained every two years.
Pick The Right Flooring for Your Deck
In short, each type of deck flooring has its strengths and weaknesses. There are plenty of determining factors that can help determine which product is best for you. For example, do you plan to grill and party on your deck? Is your deck shady or sunny? How high off the ground is the deck surface? Do you have pets? Are you looking for something rustic or contemporary? Do you prefer low maintenance rather than a more natural look? These are just a few examples of some of the factors that help determine if a specific deck flooring product is right for you.
Of course, you don’t have to choose just one type of flooring for your deck. You can mix and match them according to your tastes and needs. For example, to delimit the play area from the dining area, or the pool area from the barbecue area, etc.
The fact is that no matter what material you choose, the life of your deck flooring will largely depend on the care and maintenance you provide.