Many people already know the material they want to use for their new deck. There are just as many who are unsure what deck material is best for them. You only a few options: wood, composite, or PVC.

The first thing to know is that all deck frames are made with treated lumber. Treated lumber is a yellowish green color and is strong and durable. It is perfect for holding up all that beautiful wood that will be built on top of it. Treated lumber is also cheap in comparison to the other materials so that is another reason why it is used for the framing.

You should not use treated lumber as the main deck material. While cheaper, it has a tendency to shrink and twist making it less appealing after only a few years. Treated lumber also contains chemicals to keep it from rotting. For these reasons, it’s best to keep it under the deck.

When you start planning on a new deck, start thinking of all the variables that could have an affect on your decks longevity and appeal. Some questions to consider:

  • Where is the deck located?
  • Is the deck going to be in a mainly shaded area or sunny area?
  • How close to the ground is the deck going to be built?
  • How much maintenance do you plan on giving to your deck?
  • Is there going to be heavy traffic on your deck?
  • How long do you plan on living in your home?

These questions should help you and your builder get on the right path to what material you should be using if wood is the material you’re looking to use. Now on to the materials!


The first option to think about is wood decking. It is the most popular option because of its familiarity and for it’s cost savings. You may be familiar with some of the common wood materials:

  • Western Red Cedar
  • Redwood
  • Ipe
  • Redwood
  • Jutoba
  • Tigerwood

Western red cedar and redwood are softer woods and are generally 2″ thick. Ipe and the other options are considered hardwoods and are generally only 1″ thick. All options have their pros and cons and they should be discussed with your builder. If you plan on heavy traffic and having a lot of moving parts on your deck, you may want to opt for the harder woods. If you want that awesome color that cedar or redwood contain, go with the softer woods. Both materials will require yearly or by-yearly maintenance to keep their colors.

Composite and PVC

The second option would be composite or PVC. Composite decking is a hybrid between wood and plastic. It is a long lasting material that is very uniform in its look and feel. Composite is low maintenance and requires little to no upkeep from year to year. It also comes in a variety of colors depending on the manufacturer and can be matched or contrasted with the railings depending on your design preferences. Some common manufacturers are:

  • Azek
  • Trex
  • Fiberon
  • Timber Tech

PVC is the plastic option. There is no wood in the PVC decking material but other than minor differences, it is similar in almost every way to the composite material. Composite and PVC are more expensive than your wood options but if you’re looking for a low maintenance, long lasting, defect free deck material, splurge for the composite or pvc.