In 2014, nearly one in four homes built featured a deck – and for good reason. From cooking out to gathering with friends and family, a deck makes it easy to enjoy good weather all year long. Better yet, you can recoup about 80 percent of the cost of a deck when you sell your home.
However, before daydreaming about how you can make the most of an outdoor deck, it’s important to consider which type of wood is best for you. The number one concern most homeowners have when building a deck is the required maintenance. The idea of having to re-stain and seal your deck every few years is daunting, not to mention the added cost of this upkeep.
Historically, composite decking has topped the charts for the best low-maintenance product available. However, through technological advancements and an increased market demand for more natural products, other decking players are now in the running for that number one spot.
Here’s a closer look at the best low-maintenance decking options on the market today.
With numerous color options, available warranty coverage and very few maintenance requirements, it’s no wonder why composite decking has saturated the market.
The price point for composite greatly varies, making it affordable for a range of budgets. However, if you’re looking for a “natural” appearance, as opposed to the “plastic” look that many composites have, you’ll be looking at the higher end of the cost spectrum. Composite is no different than any other product in that you get what you pay for – if you want wood grain coloring and a better warranty, it will require a greater monetary investment.
Made of recycled plastic and wood fiber, composite decking has been touted as an “environmentally friendly” option, but that sales feature doesn’t hold weight when you take into account the amount of energy required in the production process. Furthermore, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency enacted formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products earlier this year. Since outdoor decks often serve as a gathering place for friends and family, it’s no surprise that many homeowners share concerns about potentially harmful emissions from composite wood decks.
One more aspect of composite decking that often comes under scrutiny is that it heats up in the sun, which makes walking on it uncomfortable – or even potentially harmful for small children not wearing shoes. This is due to the fact that it’s a plastic-coated product, as opposed to natural wood.
Technologically Enhanced Wood Decking
A different low-maintenance decking product that has quickly gained momentum in the category is modified wood decking. For real wood lovers who don’t want the upkeep of traditionally treated wood, modified wood is the perfect solution.
Achieved through technological advances in the treatment process, modified wood is incredibly durable and is typically compared to premium tropical hardwoods. Kebony has been recognized by architects and designers across the globe as the industry leader in modified woods.
Modified wood, like Kebony, is ideal for environmentally conscious consumers. Kebony only harvests sustainable wood species in an effort to put an end to rainforest degradation. As well, the treatment process uses a bio-based liquid, so no toxins or harmful substances are found in or omitted by the product.
As a real wood product, modified wood typically stays cooler in the sun than composite, and with its increased hardness it rarely splinters. Over time and exposure to the elements, modified wood ages gracefully by developing a natural silver-gray patina. While the original brown color can be maintained, most prefer the natural transition to the soft gray hue. This unique combination of performance and beauty makes for the ideal low-maintenance deck.
In addition to decking, modified wood has the flexibility to be used in other applications like cladding, benches, flower boxes and more.
Regular maintenance of a deck can be time-consuming and costly. While composite and modified wood decking are both designed to handle the elements, they’re far from similar. So take the time to consider which low-maintenance option is best for your home.