How Long Does A Wood Deck Last?

Bill Taylor
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What Wood Can I Use For Decking?

Picking the right wood type is a critical step when building a deck. There are a few options when it comes to what you can use for wood for decking.

Wood is one of the most commonly used materials in decking construction. Most commonly, treated wood has been used for decks. If you choose treated wood for your decking, you should follow manufacturers' suggestions for where you should use the wood so you get the longest life and longest lifespan out of the deck.

You can also use composite wood. Composite wood is made up of two or more materials. Most commonly, composite wood is used for the decking surface. The decking surface on composite wood is generally made with a combination of wood strands and plastic. You can also use composite wood for the deck frame.

Last, you can use aluminum, iron, or steel for your deck frame. If you use a non-combustible material such as aluminum or iron for your deck frame, you won't have to worry about chemicals to slow the growth of insects.

Cedar Or Redwood

It goes without saying that the longevity of a wood deck depends on a number of factors – care being a big one. Availability of moisture in the air and sunlight are important enough to warrant their own paragraphs. Humidity and ultraviolet light are enemies of wood. When you combine them with the exposure of a wood deck to moisture and wind, you get accelerated deterioration. Of course, the temperature and the type of wood used will affect its longevity as well.

Redwood and cedar are the most durable wood choices for decks, differing largely in their resistance to the elements. Redwood is generally cooler and is very resistant to the effects of moisture as it has a high resistance to swelling or shrinking. Whereas cedar is more flexible and somewhat more resistant to moisture.

A properly maintained cedar wood deck can last more than 20 years. And because cedar is oil-based, it seldom requires revarnishing or painting in order to protect it from water damage. In addition to wood's natural resistance to moisture, it is also a pretty good insulator against it. Its flexibility allows for the movement of the decking boards even in cold climates so that once moisture is absorbed, it stays in the deck rather than pooling.

Tropical Hardwood

If you have never used a tropical hardwood deck, make sure you buy a quality deck that has been pressure treated. Most master deck builders prefer a deck that has been treated with chemicals that greatly increase the lumber's resistance to rotting, splitting, and drying out. The best part about these type deck is that you can stain or paint them with any color you like!

Pressure treated tropical wood decking comes in different price ranges. If you love natural-looking wood, use a shellac water-based coating available at hardware stores. Old Wood Guys prefer a semi-transparent oil-based stain for its superior protection. If you prefer a completely different color or you want to make a design, you can paint it after using a sealer.

Decking made from hardwoods lasts an average of 15 – 20 years when it's manufactured using pressure treatment. On the other hand, most softwood decks will last from 8 to 12 years when they have been treated. Softwoods rot much faster than hardwoods because their cell walls are thinner, making them easier for moisture to penetrate.

Pressure Treated Wood

Power washing your pressure treated deck will remove dirt and grime. Use a mild deck detergent and a garden hose to remove stains, mold, mildew, or algae from the surface.

Exposure to UV light and rain will cause the wood to rot and decay. If the deck is going to get wet, it can help to seal the deck using a stain that lasts for about a year. Many people choose to seal their decks after a rain.

However; apply a transparent sealer only in dry weather. Use an oil-based penetrating stain to seal the deck after you have completed construction.

You will need to apply stain to your pressure treated deck every two years. It helps to look for high quality, water resistant stain.

What Are Some Alternatives To Wood?

Deck building has also evolved over the years. This is due to a lot of factors, but technology plays the most important role. Wood and other materials have evolved tremendously in recent years. No longer are we at the mercy of natural weather conditions. Now we can seal our wood and choose materials and construction methods that will make our decks more durable and long lasting.

For instance, one subtle advancement is the use of synthetic wood products. These composite materials offer a more natural appearance. They’re usually ideal for cold climates where we can’t have natural wood outside for many months of the year, or where invasive insects prefer to feed on natural wood. It’s also important to note that synthetic wood composites can usually be transitioned better to other uses, such as patios, or even to building facades.

Here are some other contemporary alternatives to wood for your deck:

Metal: in the past, metal was not an option for outdoor construction. Wood would rot and rust metal would rust, but it’s now possible to develop composite materials that don’t have that problem. Metal is generally a good choice for those who need a rust proof material.

Rubble stone: While this isn’t exactly a desirable material for a large area like a deck, stone can make a nice addition to your deck.

Composite Decking

Composite decking and shakes (wood alternatives) are created by pressing a variety of materials together that are then shaped and cured with the high heat and pressure of autoclave equipment. The wood composite boards are extremely strong, usually contain more color variation than wood (which makes a big difference when you want a contemporary look), are very low maintenance, and can be made waterproof. The most fundamental difference between composite wood and wood decking is its strength. Laminated wood shakes are strong but they are nowhere near as strong as the composite clear or softwood decks also on offer.

There is another very important difference between composite decking and from wood shakes that you will need to know. In composite decks, depending on the mix of plastics and resins used, the boards are not water resistant. That means eliminating greasy messes like oil & grease and any liquid spills like paint, thinner, and fuel from the fragile and vulnerable resin decking and shakes. I t’s also important that you don’t try to sand away any stains or fix damages yourself. Always stick to the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations.

Plastic Lumber

Wood decks are one of the oldest and most traditional patio ideas, and they continue to be a favorite material for patios in fact it is one of the most popular patio materials available on the market. Wood decks are easy to work with and relatively inexpensive, which definitely adds to their popularity even though they are not as durable as some of the newer materials such as plastic wood or vinyl. There are many things that can be done to maximize the life and beauty of wood decks to help them retain their appeal, style and functionality for many years to come.

When deciding on how long does a wood deck last the most important thing to look at is the kind of wood that it is made from. Some of the new composite materials can last up to 50 years, but there are several factors that determine just how long your wood deck will last. The composition of the wood including the type and quality of the wood, weather conditions such as rain, sunlight and moisture, along with termites and other insects are all factors in determining just how long your wood deck will last.

Some of the most famous names in the wood deck market include Trex and TimberTech who have both been designing and manufacturing wood decks for over 15 years, these materials come with a manufacturer's warranty, which covers any decay, rot or insect damage for a number of years.

Steel / Aluminium

Or Wood Deck?

A common query is whether to go for an aluminium or a wooden deck. Their primary differences are in terms of maintenance, quality and sustainability of the materials used. The *maintenance* of decks is of significant importance to home owners and/or city councils.

If you have a wooden deck, as with any wooden structure, weather is a major factor in the durability of the wood. Cool moist conditions promote the growth of fungus, and heat and dry conditions can blister paint or dry out the decking. However, a well-designed wooden deck should last for decades, if not a century. High-quality wooden decks are not a significant investment, they are a home improvement that will last a lifetime.

In contrast, aluminium decks are extremely durable, and are not subject to the toll that weather takes on wood. Aluminium resists the elements better than any other decking material, and dry conditions will not blister the paint or dry out the backing. When the paint does start to deteriorate, unlike wood, it can be easily renewed. Aluminium decks are therefore, a cheaper and more permanent solution in the long run.

Concrete / Stone

/ Wood Fence vs. Wood Deck

How long does a wood deck last?

Whether you are a deck builder or a homeowner who is evaluating the cost of replacing an existing wooden deck, these are typical numbers used in the industry and your own estimates will be close if you use the same assumptions and typical materials. For example, if you don’t use standard pressure treated lumber or using a more exotic wood, your numbers will change.

In the table below, there are three columns. The first column is the number of years. The second column is when you should expect deterioration to begin. This column also includes information on rot, decay, and insect damage to help you gauge your risk. The third column is an estimate of the annual maintenance cost.

Wood Deck Design and Construction Factors that Impact Durability

The average life expectancy of a wood deck is approximately 15 to 25 years. These numbers are not written in stone, and with good maintenance, you might just get longer than average. Of course, your geography, climate, and deck construction can alter your results. Some of the more common plagues are listed below.

How Can I Make My Wood Deck Last Longer?

Since you have invested in your new wood deck, you want to take extra care in protecting it from the elements that could cause deterioration. If you did your homework, you know that there are several important factors to a deck’s longevity, including the wood type, the application process, and the proper maintenance.

You can help to extend the life of your wood deck by performing a few simple maintenance tasks. Your deck is built to be weather resistant, but to achieve maximum longevity all you need to do is keep the elements off of it. This means keeping the deck clean, properly sealing to prevent warping, and applying a sealant each year.

In addition to performing these simple actions, it’s also important to be mindful of how you use your deck. In addition to cleaning and periodic maintenance, here are a few other things to avoid:

Do not place patio furniture on the deck, as they can take a permanent imprint of the deck boards they are placed upon – and once that happens, the imprint will likely never go away.

and once that happens, the imprint will likely never go away. When entertaining, steer clear of placing hot or dirty items on the wood – this will cause warping and prevent stains from being able to soak into the wood.

Design Your Deck Well

Wood decks are a great way to enhance your home and the low maintenance costs are fairly low which makes it the top choice among homeowners. However, there are a few things that you should know when dealing with this type of deck. Proper design and choice of materials are the two most important factors that come to play when it comes to maintenance. Your placement of the deck is very crucial, if not done right you might end up having problems later on.

For example, decks built