Written by Donald Sparacin
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There was a time when all outdoor decking was wood, period. Usually, the wood decking was pine boards that were painted to help resist weather. It required repainting every year, and since the decking was painted it usually needed washing periodically. It always looked great the day it was installed, even better the day it was painted, and if it was properly maintained it had a nice finished look for several months.

My, How Decking Has Changed

Today's decking material is a far cry from those days of yore. The first serious improvement to the wood used was the ever-popular pressure treated lumber. This is the same southern yellow pine that has been used forever, but it undergoes a treatment that helps it to resist rot, insects, and other harmful agents. Pressure treated lumber usually has a warranted life span of about 40 years, and is almost always used for joists and posts.

The next improvement in decking was composite lumber. This really isn't wood at all, but a combination of usually recycled plastic, cellulous, and other materials. It resists warping, rotting, insects, and weather like no natural wood can. Builders and weekend warriors alike appreciate that it cuts, nails, and screws just like wood, but the homeowners really appreciate that it is virtually maintenance free. While it costs significantly more than traditional wood, it usually saves the homeowner in other maintenance costs over the life of the deck.

Another boom to the decking industry is aluminum. This material usually comes extruded and coated with a non-skid finish in a wide variety of colors, and textures. Installation is somewhat different than wood decking, but can be accomplished by anyone with basic skills. The homeowners will enjoy this material since it is completely maintenance free, cool to the touch, no nails or screws are visible, it's completely fireproof, and is lighter and stronger than wood.

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