Wood decks can be a wonderful addition to your home, but how long does a wood deck last? This depends on many factors, such as the material you use, the climate you live in, and how well your deck is maintained. As a new deck is a big investment, so you want to make sure you build one that will last for a long time.
What Wood Can I Use For Decking?
There are several types of wood to choose from for your deck boards and deck frame. Before deciding which one is best for you, you will need to consider your budget, your environment, and how long you are hoping your deck will last. Your deck builders will also be able to give you some tips. Here are some common woods used for decks and their expected life span.
Cedar Or Redwood
These softwoods not only look good with their deep, reddish tint but also contain tannins and oils that are naturally resistant to rot and some insects. You will need to select your lumber carefully, though, as the heartwood, which grows closer to the center of the tree, is more resistant than the sapwood on the outer part of the tree.
Even with their natural resistance to rot, the lumber can still be affected by the elements, so you can also use a stain and sealer to help prevent cracks and splinters. You will need to clean your deck regularly and reseal as required. You can expect cedar or redwood decks to last 25 years or more, but it could be more like ten years if it is not maintained correctly,
Tropical hardwoods, such as ipe and tigerwood, are one of the hardest and most durable materials to use for decks and are naturally resistant to rot and bugs. It is a very dense wood, so it is less prone to damage from the weather, your pets, or your children. But being so dense means it can be hard to drill into, and it is very heavy to lift. Tropical hardwoods don’t stain very easily either. You can apply a clear UV protective oil finish if you want to retain the original color. This will need to be reapplied every three to four years.
Decks made out of tropical hardwood can last a long time, typically 30 to 50 years.
Pressure Treated Wood
As the name suggests, pressure-treated wood has been treated with a chemical that makes it more resistant to rot and bugs. It is typically made from pine, but depending on the look you are after, you can use different types of wood. Pressure-treated wood is becoming very common
. It is easy to install, economical, relatively durable, and feels good under your feet.
Although it is a more affordable option for a new deck, it does require regular maintenance. It should be thoroughly cleaned and restained every two or three years. You can expect a pressure-treated pine deck to last at least 15 years if it is appropriately maintained.
What Are Some Alternatives To Wood?
Most people love the feeling of wood under their feet, but if you are not keen on using wood for your deck, there are some other alternatives available.
Composite decking has the appearance of wood, but it is made from a combination of wood chips and PVC or plastic (which can sometimes be made from recycled materials). Being eco-friendly, decks made from composite decking are very durable and don’t require weather-proofing or painting. If you want to keep it looking good, though, it will need regular cleaning and maintenance. Composite decking is less susceptible to weathering and fading, and won’t rot or splinter, but it may feel a bit cold under your feet. These decks typically last up to 25 years or sometimes even longer.
You can expect a deck made out of plastic lumber to last a long time, about 30-35 years, and it often comes with a 50-year warranty, so because of this, it can be expensive. It is straightforward to install, is waterproof, has no splinters, and is very low maintenance. The downsides are it can get very hot, especially if it is regularly in the full sun, and it can squeak when you walk on it.
Steel / Aluminium
This type of decking is very durable, and termites hate it, but it is costly! You can expect it to last 30+ years, sometimes up to 60 years. It does require maintenance, though, as it needs regular desalting and recoating.
Concrete / Stone
A deck made out of concrete or stone is also expensive, but very durable. It is excellent for ground-level decking areas, is relatively easy to clean, and can blend in well with your home, although in some cases, it can lack character. It should last 70+ years.
How Can I Make My Wood Deck Last Longer?
There are several things you can do to help your deck last a long time.
Design Your Deck Well
Your deck needs to be designed to work well for your particular property – taking into account weather conditions, your block of land, how close the deck is to the ground, and whether it is attached to your house or free-standing. Ensure your deck builders are professionals who know what they are doing, as how your deck is designed can have a significant impact on how long your deck lasts.
Use Good Quality Decking Material
When installing your new deck, you need to use good quality material that is built to last. This does include not only the wood used for the deck boards and deck frame, but also the nails, bolts, screws, and any other fittings used to put it together. Your deck builder should be able to advise you on the best materials for your particular condition.
Maintain Your Deck
Once your new deck is built, it is essential to keep it well-maintained. Wood decks typically have grooves or cracks between the deck boards, and there can be holes in the knots of wood. As the floor is flat, these gaps collect water, dirt, leaves, and other vegetation. This is an excellent place for algae and moss to grow. Besides being good for the wood, the algae can cause your deck to have a green tinge and become very slippery when wet. You need to brush away the debris and hose down your deck regularly.
A wooden deck is an ideal place to socialize, relax, and enjoy your natural surroundings. If your deck is well-built and properly maintained, it should be something you can enjoy for many years to come.