How to Choose A Deck Material that is Right for You.

 In Decks and Fencing

Decks make a wonderful addition to any home.  They are perfect for entertaining and enjoying the outdoors with friends and family.

It wasn’t long ago that the only choice for a deck was wood, which came in two or three species. However, thanks to an explosion of composite lumber, plastic decking and hardwood imports, there’s now a vast array of decking materials, colours and styles available.

Choosing the best wood for your deck is all about taste and priorities.  For some, it’s a matter of economics, while others place aesthetics at the top of their list.

Decking material options have grown exponentially over the past several years, with five basic types, each with their own aesthetics, maintenance and price range.

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Brown Treated Decks & Stairs with an Aluminum Picket Railing.

The Economic Option: Pressure-Treated Lumber

Despite all the competition, this green or brown tinted wood is still the No. 1 decking material sold today.  Approximately 75 percent of all new decks are finished with pressure-treated lumber.

The widespread popularity of pressure treated decking isn’t surprising: it’s affordable, readily available, and easy to work with. Most pressure treated decking is milled from spruce or pine, and then chemically treated to resist rot, fungus and bugs. Pressure treaded decks are commonly surfaced with 2x6s, or 5/4×6 ­inch planks.

The downside of pressure treated decking is that it’s not very dimensionally stable.  It tends to crack, split and warp, and requires routine maintenance to prolong the life and look of the deck.  A pressure treated deck should be power washed in the spring and have an application of stain or wood preservative every two or three years.

cedar deck calgarys best deck builder

Tight Knotty Cedar Deck

Naturally Superior: Cedar

For many purists, the only choices for decking is red cedar. This western softwood is prized for its rich color and natural beauty, and because it isn’t full of chemicals or preservatives. Cedar contains tannins and oils that make it naturally resistant to rot and decay.

The best grades of cedar decking range from the most expensive, clear grades, to the least expensive, knotty grades.  Tight knot cedar is the most economical wood decking material after pressure treated lumber.  Clear cedar can be comparable if not more expensive than many composite decking boards.

Cedar decks require an annual power washing and coat of finish every three to four years.   A clear water-repellent wood preservative should be applied to protect the decks surface from the weather and to help reduce splintering.  A light semi-transparent stain will need to be applied to maintain the woods natural colour.

Ipe Decking & Stairs

Exotic Imports: Tropical Hardwoods

Red Batu, Ipe, and Meranti are just some of the tropical hardwoods available for decking in Calgary. These exotic, rich-grained woods are extremely hard, very durable and naturally resistant to rot.

Tropical hardwoods are expensive, especially when compared with pressure treated lumber, but can be comparable in cost to clear grade cedar or composite decking. The most common tropical hardwood is Ipe.  It is similar in appearance to mahogany but has a deep crimson colour.

Exotic hardwood decks should have a UV-blocking clear wood preservative applied every three to four years.

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Trex Transcends Island Mist Deck


Better Board: Composites

Composite decking and PVC decking represent the fastest-growing category of decking materials sold today.

Composites, like TrexTimberTech, and Fiberon are made primarily of wood fibers cores with recycled plastic caps.  PVC decking, like TimberTech – Azek, contains no wood fibers and is 100 percent plastic. Both composite and PVC decking boards are exceptionally weather and stain resistant and they won’t splinter, warp, or rot.

They’re extremely low-maintenance and never need to be sanded, refinished or stained.  A regular sweeping, soap and water cleaning, or light washing will keep the composite decking looking good.

For Plank Vinyl Decking

Stay-Dry Option: Vinyl Membrane

Vinyl decking membranes provide low-maintenance protection for roof decks, 2nd floor decks, sundecks, porches, balconies or flat roofs that require the space beneath be waterproofed.  The PVC vinyl membranes provide a watertight shield and an attractive pedestrian deck surface in a single product. The vinyl decking membranes are available in many patterns and colours, and are designed for strength, durability, slip resistance, UV and mold resistant, and most importantly to be waterproof.

Vinyl decking systems require very little maintenance.   Regular sweeping to remove dust and debris, and an annual spring cleaning, with mild household dish soap, or a light power washing, is all it will take to keep your vinyl deck looking good.

Vinyl decking membranes provide the ideal solution for residential and light commercial outdoor living space, where the deck surface is also required to act as a roof.


Picking the best surface for your deck

There are many aspects to consider when choosing a decking surface.  Application, appearance, durability, maintenance and price, they are all an important parts of the decision.


SHAW Renovation & Construction, is a family-owned company that has been serving Calgary for over 30-year.   We strive to provide the highest level of workmanship and customer satisfaction.


Set up a FREE deck consultation in and around Calgary.


Call 403.233.9367, email or visit

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