Decking Materials: Know Your Options
Learn about decking materials and the options available for your deck project
When planning for a new deck, you should first explore the various decking materials available for your project. You may even find that researching options for deck materials will lead to new decking ideas, resulting in a deck design that improves the appeal of your home's outdoor living areas and value.
Choosing decking materials used to be easy, because there was one choice: wood. It came in a few different species, but apart from that, the choice was simple. These days, you can choose between many different natural surfaces, as well as a range of composite and artificial decking materials that may extend the life and reduce the maintenance costs of your deck.
If you're a traditionalist who's leaning towards wood, however, the most common choice for wood deck materials is pressure-treated or "PT" lumber. This inexpensive, widely available deck material can easily make for a sturdy, attractive structure, but be warned—it's highly susceptible to warping, cracking and splitting, and it must be diligently maintained and treated for weather resistance.
To preserve the look and feel of wood but upgrade in terms of longevity, you might want to consider a redwood or cedar for your decking materials—they make for gorgeous decks and are naturally resistant to warping, cracking and pests. The downside: they're about three times as expensive as pressure treated lumber, In the same price range are tropical woods like ipe (pronounced e-pay), which are extremely dense and pest resistant and considered to be some of the most beautiful decking materials available.
Festive lighting and ample seating make this traditional backyard pool a fantastic spot to entertain. Seating is grouped into zones for conversation, dining and poolside lounging while ample terraces connect the indoor and outdoor spaces and offer great views of the retreat-like backyard.
This 600-square-foot wraparound deck from HGTV's Dream Home 2013 is clad in durable garapa wood and features a plunge pool, all-weather outdoor furniture and stellar views of the Kiawah River. See more pictures of this Dream Home deck >>
Stars and Streams
A pebbled stream with twinkling underwater lights flows from the hot tub to the pool in this dreamy outdoor oasis. A curved outdoor fire pit with semiciricle bench extends out from the stone deck, providing a spot to enjoy the stunning view.
This sun deck from DIY Network's Smart Home 2013 is built from sustainable composite material and is the perfect spot to enjoy nature, sunbathe or entertain friends and family. The refreshing modern pool features frosted glass mosaic tile, a programmable water fountain and two high-intensity swim jets for exercising. See more of this smart pool >>
Small Space Solution
Featuring an infinity edge lap pool, hot tub, concrete stepping pads and ipe decking, this small backyard spares no luxury despite its limited space.
This breathtaking house has an intimate connection with all of its outdoor spaces. Oversized windows and soaring glass walls overlook the sleek pool patio featuring an infinity pool, elevated hot tub and integrated landscaping.
Room to Entertain
With a lap pool, a cascading wall fountain, a limestone deck and a privacy border, this clever backyard design makes the most of its limited space.
A neutral stone patio leads out to a beautiful pool and hot tub in this Tuscan-inspired home. On the far end, an open cabana features a comfortable seating area and rustic stone wall fireplace.
Beachfront Pool Deck
Lay on the beach or relax poolside at this British Island property where you can watch the ocean waves break from the two-level deck.
The distant sunset illuminates this tropical paradise's sprawling patio and 50-foot saltwater pool. Flanked by a variety of tropical plants, the pool area includes a picturesque waterfall, firepit and lounge chairs for relaxing.
Property Brothers Pool Party
The property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott, transformed this once foreclosed Las Vegas home into an extravagant estate. The pool area includes a travertine-tiled deck and firepit, drop down movie screen, water slide and outdoor kitchen. Check out the exclusive HGTV Magazine feature of the bros' luxurious fixer upper >>
Palm Springs Inspiration
Inspired by a visit to Palm Springs, this poolside makeover from The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie makes use of tropical palms, cactus and drought-tolerant plants, plus red tile and natural stone. The newly added poolside benches serve a second function as a fix for the crumbling retainer wall.
Room to Play
Featuring a fully-stocked outdoor kitchen, waterfalls, a spa and more, this expansive outdoor retreat offers plenty of room to relax and play. The lush landscaping, designed for privacy, includes sizable Leyland cypress, cedars and palms.
This gorgeous swimming pool features mist generation, a wave generator and waterfalls all programmed into the home's integrated control system. See more images of this integrated home >>
Al Capone's Pool House Deck
This two-story poolhouse, formerly owned by gangster, Al Capone, flanks an enormous lap pool and offers stunning views of bordering Biscayne Bay. Tour this incredible 1930's home >>
Lakeside Party Deck
The tile of this lakeside saltwater pool was carefully grouped to mimic the color of the nearby lake. Luxurious white outdoor drapery frames the entrway to the nearby outdoor kitchen and lounge and allows for privacy or shade if desired.
East Coast Inspiration
This Cape Cod home has an inviting backyard space with a traditional pool and seating area great for relaxing and enjoying the summer weather. See more photos of this charming home >>
Rustic Meets Modern
The stacked stone exterior of this Arizona home is a beautiful, rustic contrast to the clean modern lines of the deck and infinity pool. Oversized lounge chairs add an extra contemporary touch and are the perfect spot to relax and watch the poolside television.
This tranquil private pool and patio area features beds of drought tolerant shrubs, sand-finished concrete pavers, statuary and a raised deck for lounging.
Black Stone Pool
This neutral stone tile patio features a gorgeous contemporary infinity pool flanked by concrete fire bowls. An outdoor kitchen with a built-in grilling area is located just next to the pool, while meticulous landscaping—including a wall with climbing plants arranged in a diamond pattern—adds a finishing touch.
Recessed lighting is tucked into the overhangs of a cantilevered roof, lighting up the sleek, streamlined pool and highlighting the lines of this home's Mid-Century Modern design.
Sleek pebble gullies add interest and depth to this concrete pool deck. See more images of this stunning Corona del Mar home >>
Santa Barbara Elegance
In the backyard of this stunning modern home, a striking infinity pool with a glass perimeter curves down to sparkling views of Santa Barbara. A pergola structure anchors the end of the space, creating a quiet and dream-like place to watch the sunset.
With cascading fountains, a tile bridge and atmospheric outdoor and underwater lighting, this rectangular pool is mesmerizing at night.
Situated against the side of the house and running the entire length of the residence, this sleek pool concept reflects the intimacy of the water canals of Venice.
At night, the pool and patio areas of this home in the British Virgin Islands create a soothing and comfortable ambiance. Paired with the picturesque view, it's reason enough to have evening cocktails outdoors. See more photos of this stunning villa >>
This multi-level, multidimensional infinity edge pool features upper and lower sections separated by a thick, acrylic pane called a "liquid window," which gives the illusion of water floating in space.
A wooden pergola stretches over comfortable lounge chairs while a sprawling perimeter garden, bursting with blue hydrangeas and orange daylilies, adds privacy and color to this gorgeous outdoor space.
If you're willing to sacrifice some of the look and feel of pricey hardwoods, composite wood may be a good option. Composed primarily of wood fibers and recycled plastic, composite wood comes in a wide range of colors and stains, and won't warp, split or crack.
Finally, a rarer option but one that you might want to consider is aluminum decking. It's the strongest and most long-lasting decking material, but it's also the most expensive at around $9 per linear foot.
By exploring the decking material options available to you, you'll be able to find the material that offers the best combination of beauty, durability, maintenance and cost for your home.
See also: Deck and Patio Design Ideas
- Composite Decking
- Deck Lighting Options
- Decks for Every Location
- How to Maintain a Deck
- Plastic vs. Composite Decking
- Deck Plantings Tips