Thermally Modified Wood
As a natural wood option thermally modified wood (TMW) has been around in Europe since the 90’s and is starting to gain in popularity here in North America. The practice of heating wood dates back to the Vikings, who used it to waterproof their boats. Thermally modified wood is natural wood (pine is common) that has been “baked” at high temperatures (near 500 degrees) to decompose the food sources for wood-boring insects and eliminate the moisture needed for fungal growth. Manufacturers claim that the treatment also gives the wood a better color uniformity and a longer life. Shown is a thermally modified wood deck by All Natural Wood Decking, Inc., of British Columbia. Applying oils or pigments to the wood helps preserve the dark, rich colors that result from the heat modification process.
Cost: About $2.20 per linear foot of decking board.
More info: Natural Wood Decking, Inc.
Real Wood that can Handle Humidity
Real wood can be so unpredictable. Will it splinter? Warp? And how will it weather? CD Lumber says with its Incense Cedar decking, you can have the beauty of real wood without the worry. Natural oils in the wood make it decay resistant, so you can leave it unsealed and untreated without worrying about chemicals leaching into your lawn. If you do, the light brown color will eventually weather to gray. Otherwise the wood can be sealed and stained.
The fine-grain wood is supremely sanded, so no worries about splinters and bare feet. And as to durability, the wood is already dried, ensuring that most shrinkage has already taken place. It’s an especially good match for areas known for high humidity and moisture.
Cost: Prices vary by retailer, but the average price per linear foot for Appearance Plus Incense (shown in photo) is $1.15 for small projects and $1.05 for large projects.
For more info: CDLumber.com
Low-Maintenance Real Wood
For some people, only real wood will do. If you’re one of them, consider redwood. The California Redwood Company boasts sustainably harvested redwood that is more stable than most soft woods. Shrinking, warping and splitting – while always possible with real wood – happen less frequently with redwood. Because it’s real wood, it only comes in one color. But you can stain it darker if you wish.
Real wood does require regular maintenance. Using a quality stain and keeping the deck clean will go far toward maintaining the quality of your wood. But even if the sun and the elements eventually take their toll, you can always sand and restore it to look like new.
Cost: The California Series Premium Blend, shown here, retails for $1.99 per linear foot.
For more info: Californiaredwoodco.com
Good Beach Decking
DockSider by TimberTech uses wood plastic composite to provide the durability needed for docks, decks and walkways installed near sand, surf and shore. The Vertigrain surface pattern keeps wet feet safe from slips. It is rot and warp resistant and measures 24-inches wide, which means you spend less time framing and less money on materials. It comes in two colors: cedar and grey (shown).
Cost: Pricing varies by retailer and region, but averages $3.50 to $3.65 per linear foot.
For more info: TimberTech.com
Exotic Hardwood Look
Fiberon Horizon decking gives the rich look of tropical hardwoods without the worries about maintenance and upkeep that come with real wood. Each board features a composite core wrapped with patent-pending PermaTech cap that surrounds all four sides of the board. And unlike hardwood, Fiberon Horizon is resistant to stains, scratches, fading and mold.
If you’re deciding between real wood and wood-looking decking, Fiberon is a bit more expensive. But Fiberon argues that the 20-year stain- and fade-resistant guarantee make their product a better investment. Horizon is available in six colors: sand, brick, bronze, slate and the two newest offerings, ipe (shown) and rosewood.
Cost: Fiberon Horizon averages $2.60-$2.75 per linear foot.
For more info: FiberonDecking.com
Decking with Fire Protection
MoistureShield Decking gives you the beauty of real wood with the ease of synthetics thanks to a construction process that encapsulates the wood in an impenetrable plastic shell. This design makes each plank resistant to decay, moisture and insects, and allows you to install the deck directly on the ground without worrying about damage. And because MoistureShield FR has been approved by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and is listed as an approved product in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Products Handbook, you can rest assured that the produce is fire resistant.
MoistureShield has the look of wood, but the synthetic coating means it definitely feels like plastic. This could be a drawback for those who love the feel of hardwood under their feet. MoistureShield FR is available in three colors: Cape Cod gray (shown), earthtone and seasoned mahogany.
Cost: MoistureShield FR retails for $2.70 per linear foot.
For more info: Moistureshield.com
The Feel of Wood
Ever wonder where those shopping bags go after you put them in the recycling bin? There’s a good chance they wind up in Trex decking materials. Seventy percent of the plastic bags recycled in the U.S. are purchased by this company. Then they are combined with reclaimed wood and sawdust to create a lumber-looking finish. Wood protects the boards from UV damage, and plastic makes the product rot, insect and moisture resistant. The Trex Accents line offers two patterns on one board. On one side, there’s a subtle wood grain; on the other a smooth, solid surface. Trex Accents comes in four colors: Winchester Grey, Madeira, Woodland Brown and Saddle (shown). But be warned: because the product contains real wood, the color you see on installation will change within a few months. A color guide on the Web site gives you an idea of what to expect.
Cost: Linear foot cost ranges from $2.65 to $5.83.
For more info: Trex.com
One Board, Two Finishes
Want to get a little creative with your deck design? TimberTech’s TwinFinish planks give you two different finishes on the same board: Vertigrain slip-resistant design or Serrated textured finish. Mix and match and you’re sure to create a unique design.
Once you’ve completed your installation, you can sit back and enjoy with very little worry about maintenance. That’s because TwinFinish is made from Wood Plastic Composite, a mixture of virgin and post-consumer recycled plastics that never needs to be sanded or sealed. TwinFinish comes in three colors: cedar (shown), grey and redwood.
Cost: Pricing varies by retailer and region, but averages $2.40 – $3.20 per linear foot.
For more info: TimberTech.com
Use Stones to Protect Your Deck
Want to place a fire pit on your deck, but are too afraid of what a flying spark could do it? Deck stones provide fashionable fire protection. The 16-inch interlocking square tiles are made of natural slate or granite. They’re great under barbecue grills or outdoor kitchens as well.
Installation is easy. The stones’ strong, fiberglass substrate uses hidden fasteners to attach easily to 16-inch on-center joists. This is an easy add-on to either brand new or existing wood-framed decks. All you need to do is remove the planks in the spot where you want to place the tiles and install. Because the stones are interlocking and self-draining, no mortar is required.
Cost: Varies by retailer.
For more info: UFPI.com
Hardwoods for your Deck
Who says you can’t have a mahogany deck? With Latitudes Capricorn decking you can get the fine look of mahogany or ipe wood with the ease of composite wood. And there’s no need to worry about fading or water damage. Each Latitudes board incorporates Strandex technology that encases each strand of wood fiber in high-density polyethylene.
Unlike some composites, Latitudes says it is “nearly impervious” to stains. The material is ultra low-maintenance as no sealing, painting or sanding is ever required, and comes with a 25-year limited warranty.
Deck Bricks Add New Design Option
Who says a deck needs to be made of planks? VAST Composite Deck Pavers have the look of brick but are made of 95 percent post-consumer recycled rubber and plastic. The pavers resist mold and mildew, are easy to clean and require no sanding or staining. And if you ever worried about slipping on those very smooth surface synthetic decks, that’s not an issue with this product, which boasts superior slip resistance. So go ahead, walk out with your socks on.
Each paver measures 3-by-6 inches and weighs 6.5 pounds per square foot. Six colors are available: redwood, boardwalk, olive, village, waterwheel and polo. Combinations of these colors can be created such as in the pattern of redwood, boardwalk and olive in the picture shown.
Cost: $8 per square foot; About 25 percent higher than composite lumber.
For more info: Vastpavers.com
Cedar: A Decking Classic
Its durability, light weight, uniform texture and straight grain has made cedar the historic wood of choice for decks. And even though it’s real wood, a natural compound called thujaplicin acts as a preservative, ensuring your deck will endure against insects, mold and rot for decades.
Cedar’s durability also ensures that the wood is less likely to swell, warp, cup or twist than other soft or hard woods. If you like color, your options are endless as cedar stains very well. And then there’s the smell – cedar’s wonderful aroma will add an extra level of ease to your outdoor experience.
Low Maintenance PVC Decking
TimberTech’s XLM premium PVC decking boasts the ultimate in scratch, mildew and stain resistance. And while no material left out to the elements is maintenance free, XLM is Extreme Low Maintenance. Because it’s slip resistant, XLM works well poolside.
Installation is easy with no pre-drilling required. Screws can be covered with hidden fasteners for a streamlined look. With XLM you have your choice of four colors: Mountain Cedar (brown, shown), SandRidge (tan) and Desert Bronze (tropical streaked) or RiverRock (gray). There is a drawback to XLM: You have to be vigilant about keeping any vinyl or rubber products, including garden hoses, mats and planters, off the deck as the materials can stain.
Cost: The RiverRock, SandRidge and Mountain Cedar colors retail for between $3.20 and $4.30 per linear foot. Desert Bronze is a little pricier at $3.75 to $4.85 per linear foot. Prices vary by retailer and region.
For more info: TimberTech.com