There is an abundance of decking materials available in today’s market. From aluminum and wood, to PVC and composite decking, each material has its own unique benefits and price point. For homeowners, sorting through all of the options to find the material that best fits their budget and lifestyle can turn a much-anticipated project into a chore that cuts into summertime fun. To best identify what deck you can afford, it is important to ask yourself the following questions while you consider which option is the best fit for you:
- What is your budget and design plan?
- Which material adds the greatest value to meet your budget and lifestyle?
- What is the maintenance commitment associated with the material?
Budgeting and Planning
Your budget sets the groundwork for what kind of deck you can afford, so make sure you take the time to prepare one. A healthy budget will include total material costs (if you plan on hiring an installer), and both short- and long-term maintenance costs associated with deck ownership. Create a budget with a total price in mind that you are comfortable paying. When you have decided on your budget, craft a plan.
Effective planning can make a significant difference in the total cost and time investment of building your deck. To start, decide what you want your deck to look like with an online deck design tool. From there, consult an online material calculator to estimate how much material it will take to build your deck. In addition to the decking, be sure to account for the underlying joists, beams, posts, footings, and number of layers in your deck. If you find that your budget and design aspirations are not in alignment, consider scaling back the size and complexity of your deck or taking a DIY approach to deck building.
Determine the Best Value: Composite Decking, Wood, etc.
There is a wide range between composite decking prices, wood, and other alternative decking materials. According to Remodelingexpense.com, the average decking can range from $4-$14 per square foot depending on the material type, quality, quantity and features. While it may be tempting to look at the numbers and let upfront costs drive your purchasing decision, make sure you look at the whole picture. To truly select the best value deck it’s important to evaluate hidden fees and valuable features that a decking material offers to meet your lifestyle needs.
For example, while composite decking pricing is slightly higher upfront than traditional wood decking, it has a greater level of engineering and more sophisticated manufacturing methods. It provides low annual upkeep expense, high aesthetic appeal and exceptional durability. The boards are easier to curve than capped composites, aluminum and traditional wood planks. They give homeowners a lot of design flexibility at an affordable price, making it a value-added offering.
A valuable deck is one that offers the best features for your design and lifestyle while remaining in your budget. When you are evaluating the best value between composite decking, wood and other materials, you should consider the following questions:
- Will it require expensive upkeep?
- Does it require annual staining or painting?
- Can it withstand moisture?
- Can it meet your design goals?
- Will it be a good fit?
For more information about determining the best value between composite decking, wood and other materials, consult a product comparison tool.
Identify the Maintenance Commitment
Decks need to be tough, given that they are exposed to weather, insects, spills and foot traffic. Weather and insects, in particular, take their toll on traditional lumber decks. After extended periods of exposure, the boards will need to be re-stained and sealed, or in some cases, replaced. After factoring in labor and materials, the frequent maintenance requirements of a traditional deck can amount in significant expense over its lifetime. When it comes to managing your long-term budget, you’ll want to find a low maintenance, durable option that keeps your cost of ownership down.
Composite decking is one offering that is engineered for long-term durability and resistance to rot and insect damage. The boards are created with a combination of plastic and wood fiber and, depending on the product, can protect against moisture intrusion to the core. Built to last, composite decking is designed to withstand common problems found with traditional lumber. Without the need for staining, sealing or sanding, composite decking becomes an affordable option for the long-term over traditional pressure-treated lumber. Decking products like ChoiceDek offer the look and feel of wood, but the lasting benefits of composite.
Choosing the Deck you can Afford
Before you decide on a deck material, make sure you consider your budget and plan, evaluate the real value of the material and identify how much maintenance you are willing to put in. With that information in hand, you’ll discover what kind of deck you can afford.