Austin Fence and Deck

Wood Deck Replacement Alternatives: Sustainable and Stylish Choices

Wood Deck Replacement Alternatives: Sustainable and Stylish Choices

gray metal crowbar on wooden plank

If you wish to build a new outdoor deck for your house, choosing the right material is crucial. There are many options available, and each comes with its own maintenance requirements, overall investment value, and long-term costs.

Though traditional wood decking is still the top choice, many homeowners want decking alternatives that don’t require regular maintenance. Therefore, they are turning to PVC decking, composite deck materials, bamboo, and more.

It’s best to focus on sustainability. Creating a deck with recycled materials can help with foot traffic and will generally be moisture-resistant. Likewise, the natural beauty will shine through. However, real wood is usually the cheaper option and is easy to install. Let’s take a look at the top wood deck replacement choices to see what’s available!

Bamboo Decking

bamboo deck

Most people immediately think of composite decking when they focus on timber decking alternatives. However, bamboo is another material to consider. In the past, it was used primarily for garden props and outdoor decor, but now it can be the focal point of your deck.

Pros and Cons of Bamboo Decking

Ultimately, bamboo decking is a great solution, and here are the pros and cons of using it:

Benefits

  • Highly Popular – Bamboo is quite popular for homeowners who focus on aesthetically pleasing materials. If you want appeal and style, bamboo decking is an excellent choice. It brings an Asian feeling to the outdoor space and offers natural beauty.
  • Durable and Lightweight – Bamboo decking is quite easy to install because it’s lightweight. Likewise, it will last for many years to come.
  • Inexpensive – Typically, bamboo is a cheaper option than classic hardwoods (teak and cherry).
  • Less Expansion and Contraction – With real wood, you have to worry about the moisture getting inside and temperature changes that will make it expand and contract. You don’t have that issue with bamboo.

Drawbacks

  • Vulnerability – Bamboo is quite vulnerable to rot, mildew, and mold because it’s a natural material.
  • Requires Routine Maintenance – The maintenance requirements for bamboo are higher than with other materials. It will deteriorate if it’s not maintained properly.
  • Fading – The natural color can fade with time, which is similar to traditional wooden decks.

Natural Stone Decking

natural stone deck

In most cases, natural stone decking is manufactured from sandstone, limestone, and granite. It’s a great alternative to traditional wood decking because it comes in slabs and has a timeless appearance.

Ultimately, natural stone is weather-resistant and hard-wearing. Plus, each slab features unique veining, so no two pieces are exactly alike. This is a popular choice for homeowners everywhere.

Pros and Cons of Natural Stone Decking

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of natural stone decks:

Benefits

  • Durable and Weather-Resistant – Natural stone has been around since the beginning of time, so a stone deck is likely to last just as long as the stone itself. Plus, it’s weather-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about rain rotting it like you do with other materials.
  • Attractive – Whether you choose paving slabs or something else, you’ll have a classic style that’s attractive. It compares well to timber decking.

Drawbacks

  • Heavy – Ultimately, natural stone slabs are heavy. Professionals may have to work in pairs to maneuver them into place, which can cost more in labor.
  • Expensive – When compared to wood, natural stone is a more expensive option.
  • Requires a Flat Base – Typically, natural stone decking requires a solid and flat base. In some cases, you’ll have to use ground-working machinery to excavate, which costs extra.

Aluminum Decking

person fastening aluminum deck

Aluminum decking is one of the lightest options in the decking industry. It’s suitable for use on balconies, new builds, and updates, whereby you’re replacing the flooring because of new changes or regulations.

You can usually find multiple colors available, as well!

Pros and Cons of Aluminum Decking

Here are the pros and cons of using aluminum decking:

Benefits

  • Long-Lasting – Aluminum decking can last up to 100 years with proper maintenance. Therefore, it’s one of the longest-lasting choices!
  • Lightweight – You can install aluminum decking on balconies and other high areas because of its lightweight construction and fire rating.

Drawbacks

  • Industrial Appearance – It often looks more industrial than other options. Therefore, it might not be attractive with your home.
  • Difficult to Install – It’s often harder to install, which means more labor costs.
  • Hot – If you plan to walk on the deck with your bare feet, you may need rugs because the aluminum can get quite hot.
  • Expensive – Compared to wood decking, PVC, and composite, aluminum decking is much more expensive.

Poured Concrete Decking

white sofa on pored concrete with brown floor tile deck over pool

If you prefer paving slabs, such as natural stone, porcelain, or concrete, but you wish to keep costs low, poured concrete is an excellent choice compared to traditional wood.

A poured concrete patio requires a professional to mix cement, lay it while wet and malleable, and form patterns and shapes that will look like bricks, slabs, and tiles.

Likewise, you can finish your poured concrete deck with a matte or gloss finish and include anti-slip additives to prevent trips and falls. You can’t do that with composite decking!

Pros and Cons of Poured Concrete Decking

Here are the pros and cons of using poured concrete:

Benefits

  • No Cracks and Gaps – With traditional tiles and patio slabs, you have gaps and cracks. Insects or weeds can come through, but you don’t have that problem with poured concrete.
  • Inexpensive – When you compare poured concrete to other decking materials available, it’s cheaper.
  • Easy to Install – In most cases, professionals can pour the concrete quickly, which means you may pay less in labor costs.

Drawbacks

  • Challenging to Mix – It’s often hard to mix the perfect amount and thickness of the cement.
  • Uneven Finishes – Depending on the base, you might get an uneven finish. Therefore, you might have to add compacted fill to level things out if you’re on a slope.
  • Can’t Access Lines Underneath – Poured concrete isn’t a suitable option if you need to access your plumbing or power lines because they’re underground. You’d have to remove the concrete to get to them.
  • Porous – Since concrete is porous, you must regularly stain it to protect it from moisture.

Pressure-treated Wood Decking

If you prefer wooden decking above all else, another popular choice is to install a pressure-treated wood deck. The wood is often pine, and it’s put into a chamber to apply pressure. Then, it’s sealed for more protection.

Typically, this is a great method for protecting softwood decking boards because it prevents erosion. Compared to sealing and staining, pressure-treating will get the protection deeper within the boards.

Though pressure treating sounds impressive, wood is still an organic material. All organic products are susceptible to rot and erosion. If you have oxygenated or moist soil, the wood is vulnerable to fungi and bacteria.

Pros and Cons of Pressure-treated Wood Decking

Here are the pros and cons of using pressure-treated decking:

Benefits

  • Cheaper Upfront Costs – Typically, it costs less to install than other materials. Therefore, you can save on upfront costs, though you’ll need to pay more for maintenance later.
  • Withstands Mold for Short Periods – You can prevent insects from attacking the wood and mold, though you will need to use stain periodically to achieve this goal.
  • Natural Feel and Look – If you truly love wood and want something similar, pressure-treated wood is the way to go!

Drawbacks

  • High Maintenance Costs – Though pressure-treated wood does offer some protection, you must still stain and seal it regularly to prevent issues.
  • Warps/Cracks – Homeowners often find that pressure-treated wood warps and cracks in time. There isn’t really a good way to prevent this, and you’d have to replace it.

Composite Decking

person fastening composite deck

If you want a low-maintenance option that performs well and still comes with various style options, composite decking is the right choice for you.

Ultimately, composite decking features a blend of wood fibers and recycled plastic in about a 50/50 mix. If sustainability is crucial for you, wood-plastic composite decking is the ideal solution. It’s made of about 80 percent recycled content, so the material is environmentally friendly and looks almost identical to traditional wood decking.

There are two types of composite decking materials available:

  • Capped Composite – Capped wood-plastic composite decking features a blend of wood and inorganic material in the core. However, it also includes protective capping made from polymers. This offers superior protection and will help it perform and look better.
  • Uncapped Composite – This features a blend of wood fibers and inorganic material (recycled plastic) without a protective cap.

Blending recycled plastics and wood fibers will strengthen the boards. However, if it’s uncapped, moisture can still penetrate the core. Likewise, the maintenance requirements are much higher if the composite decking is uncapped. Therefore, you may have to treat the material for mildew and mold. Still, both are low maintenance and ideal for most people.

Pros and Cons of Composite Decking

Here are the pros and cons of using composite decking:

Benefits

  • Low maintenance
  • Offers a high performance
  • Sustainable

Drawbacks

  • Often susceptible to mildew and mold (if uncapped)
  • Requires routine cleaning
  • Higher upfront costs

PVC Decking

person drilling the edge of pvc plank

PVC decking boards often feature a blend of polymers (typically polyvinyl chloride or polypropylene). These are some of the best composite decking alternatives because they’re maintenance-free and highly durable.

Pros and Cons of PVC Decking

Here are the pros and cons of using PVC decking materials:

Benefits

  • Real wood look
  • High performance
  • Low maintenance

Drawbacks

  • Less recycled materials used than composite
  • Higher upfront costs

Why Work with a Professional to Pick the Best Decking Material

If you’re not interested in traditional wood decks or yours is rotting, it’s wise to consider alternative decking materials. A professional can help you choose the best solution, and they often recommend composite decking.

Austin Fence & Deck Builders can help you install composite decking. Request your free estimate now!

FAQs About Alternative Decking Materials