wood deck, composite deck

Which is Better – Wood or Composite Decking?

Ron Hatchett

When deciding to add a deck to your home, one of your biggest decisions will be the type of material you choose. While most decks are constructed with pressure treated lumber (PTL), there really is a large variety of materials from which to choose.

Most people choose some type of wood or composite material to build their deck. Some of the factors you’ll need to consider will be the price of your chosen material and any subsequent maintenance that will be required. Your specific deck design and purpose will also factor into your decision.

Let’s examine and compare the various woods and composite materials to help you make an informed decision. Remember too, that you’ll want to keep maintenance costs in mind when you choose the best material for your deck.

Pressure Treated Wood Deck Material

Pressure treated lumber (PTL) is still the number one deck material used by 75% of customers today. The green tinted lumber is economical, readily available, and easy to cut and fasten with nails or screws. Regular routine maintenance consisting of an annual power wash and staining every 2 – 3 years is usually sufficient to keep your deck looking great.

Better Quality Wood Decking Materials

Redwood and Cedar are two woods that are about three times more expensive than PTL, and due to the tannins and oils in the wood, are naturally insect and rot resistant. They both have a rich color and natural beauty which make them an excellent choice for a deck. An annual power wash and coating of finish about every 3 to 4 years will help maintain the beauty of Redwood or Cedar.

Imported Tropical Hardwoods like Massaranduba, Cumaru, Red Taurai, Tigerwood, IPE, and Philipine Mahogany are comparable to Redwood and Cedar. These exotic, richly grained and extremely hard woods are very durable and naturally resistant to rot and insects. However, because these woods are so dense, they may be difficult to cut and drill. The amount of fading from these woods depends upon their exposure to sun, rain and snow. Preservation with a wood stain is recommended to maintain the beauty of the wood.

Composite Decking Materials

Composite material is composed primarily of wood fibers and recycled plastic, such as polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride. This material is very durable as well as being weather and stain resistant. It won’t splinter, warp or split like wood but still requires some maintenance to prevent problems from mold and mildew. Some composites may also show signs of decay over time since they are partially composed of wood fibers. The biggest advantage to using a composite is low maintenance since it will never need sanding, refinishing or staining. Low cost and availability in a wide range of colors also make a composite material an excellent choice for a deck.

Deck Material Considerations

When considering the type of building material for your deck, choosing wood or a composite, you will need to keep in mind the cost of the materials and upkeep required. Depending on the design for your deck, whether small or large, and it’s functional as well as aesthetic appearance, it’s important to consider all your options before making a final decision.

If the cost of the deck material is your primary concern, the least expensive option for deck material will be pressure treated lumber. Otherwise, any of the other woods we have discussed would be an excellent choice for creating a beautiful deck. While their costs generally start about three times that of PTL and increase substantially with the exotic, imported woods we talked about, the overall beauty of the wood may convince you to make that investment.

Maintenance costs for decks will vary depending on whether you have chosen to go with wood or composite. While most woods will require power washing at least annually, composites are nearly maintenance free. Also, most woods will need to be stained or sealed to preserve their natural beauty. Wood decking which is not properly sealed or stained will eventually weather to a soft, silvery gray.

Call Hatchett Contractors

Hatchett Contractors want you to be completely satisfied with your new deck. Our staff is always prepared to discuss all the options with you to design the deck of your dreams. We want you to take pride in our excellent craftsmanship, while at the same time ensuring that you are satisfied with your decisions for your choice of material. We will gladly go over the various choices with you and discuss your options.

Your satisfaction is our satisfaction. We take pride in constructing a deck with your choice of material at a cost that pleases you. Our hope is that you will enjoy your deck with family and friends for many years!

deck planning, weather, lighting

Pre-Planning Your Outdoor Deck

Ron Hatchett

You’ve made the decision to add a deck to your home. Now the fun begins! When planning for the addition of a deck to your home, there are a lot of things to consider.

  • Where will the access point from your home be?
  • Will your deck be an extension of an existing part of your home or perhaps a stand-alone deck?
  • Do you have an existing pool that you would like to have your deck surround to create an outdoor oasis?
  • What type of materials are you considering and budgeting for?

General Outdoor Deck Planning Considerations

What size, shape and location would you want for your deck? There are lots of resources for deck plans to help you decide on a design that’s right for you. Pinterest has a wealth of ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Will your access to your deck be from the side of your home or from the back? What about it being off your kitchen? Will your deck surround any existing landscaping or hardscape designs? Will you have separate areas for dining or grilling? Do you have a pool or a tree that the deck would be built around? Thinking about your ideal location and possible design elements is a great place to start your planning. There are plenty of plans and ideas available. Making your decision will be the tricky part!

Types of Decks

There are so many varieties of decks to choose from, you may have trouble deciding exactly what you want. If you have additional space available, you may be able to consider a multi-level deck or two-story deck. A deck designed off an upstairs master suite could have a second deck directly below. You might decide on enclosing part of a multi-level deck to provide additional storage space. No matter what type of design you choose, the addition of a deck will enhance your overall property value and provide your family with many hours of enjoyment.

Lighting Fixtures and Outdoor Options

Lighting for your deck may be another feature you’ll want to consider. You can add tiki torches to give your deck a tropical flair. What about adding a fire pit or even a built-in fireplace which just may give your deck the ambiance you’re trying to create. If you add a lattice or pergola type of structure, you have the base for hanging lanterns or outdoor lights to provide just the right mood setting. If you do decide on outdoor lighting fixtures, be sure to check with an electrician or your contractor to ensure everything measures up to code.

Privacy Considerations

Privacy from any surrounding neighbors could be another element when considering  planning your deck. You’ll want to probably include designs for constructing lattice work or perhaps incorporating some re-purposed shutters which would provide privacy you’re your neighbors. If you already have trees on your property, they can also be included in your design plan.

Safety Features and Handicap Access

Safety features for your deck, railings or handicap access ramps, will depend upon who will be using the deck. If you and your guests will be entertaining children or elderly individuals, you’ll want to be sure they can enjoy themselves without the risk of injury. Your contractor can advise you on some great safety features in include on your new deck.

Weather In your Location

Consider the weather for your area when planning your deck. Will your deck face the rising sun and be provided with lots of natural light? Will you be using your deck for entertaining throughout the year or will it mainly be an extension of your existing indoor space? You will need to consider the amount of sunlight, and any adverse weather conditions when you design your ideal outdoor living space.

Deck Building Codes and Structural Requirements

Building codes and any structural requirements will need to be considered in the initial planning phase of your new deck. Check on any requirements that could be part of a home owner’s association agreement. Many HOAs have certain rules about installation of additional structures which must be met. Generally, the contractor you will be working with can advise you of any needed licensing or permits which will be required and inspections during the building process.

Call Hatchett Contractors

We at Hatchett Contractors want to be your chosen professionals for helping you to design and build your dream deck. We are here to assist you throughout you initial planning phase. We offer our expertise by providing you with plan designs, answering your questions about materials, and handling the necessary permits and code requirements for your deck. Our goal is to construct your deck with your needs in mind and to meet or exceed your expectations. As always, we won’t settle for anything less than the best!

Customize Your Deck With Accessories

Ron Hatchett

Develop a Theme for Your Outdoor Deck

There are options galore for accessorizing your outdoor deck! From furniture to plants to lighting, creating any theme you desire should be exciting. Probably the best way to approach your decorating will be to determine the main function for your deck. Since you may have completed your pre-planning and even the construction of your new deck, you probably have decided the main function already. Let’s examine some ideas for customizing your deck and accessorizing it for maximum functionality and enjoyment.

Living Room or Family Room Retreat

Depending on the size of your deck, you will want to select furniture that compliments and doesn’t overwhelm your space. If you have planned your deck as an extension of your living room or family room, it may be enclosed. With an enclosed deck, you’ll have a few more options for furniture since weather concerns shouldn’t be a problem. A nice loveseat with comfy cushions or a chaise lounge chair with pillows would be perfect for snuggling up with a good book and your favorite beverage. Choose lighting that will give you the brightness you need for your chosen activities but can be dimmed for a more relaxed or romantic atmosphere. Plants are always a welcome addition to any room and since you may have some small tables, you could have a few potted plants in decorative containers. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to include those personal touches that make it you!

Party Deck Beach Theme

Do you love to entertain or have your friends and family over frequently? Decorate your new deck so you’re always ready to party! A Tiki Bar set-up in one corner of your deck with a grouping of tables and bar stools would be perfect to re-create an island get away! Some tall plants and groupings of lush foliage will create an atmosphere of walking through the tropics. Don’t forget hanging lanterns and even colored string lights to give your deck that party glow. Set up another area opposite the bar for some wicker furniture with comfortable cushions to allow your guests a place for conversation and relaxing. If you have built your deck around a swimming pool, this would be an ideal theme to provide a get away without leaving the comfort of home.

Barbecue and Fire Pit Ideas

Are you the grill master of your family? Your new deck is the perfect place to get that barbecue grill of your dreams! Get your cooking area set up with the proper tools and equipment so you’re ready at a moment’s notice to host a barbecue or just wow your family with your grilling skills. Picnic tables and benches or a nice table and chairs will provide adequate seating where you can serve your specialties. You may choose to have some type of cover over your dining area like a big umbrella or canopy. Don’t forget to add some planter boxes or even hanging planters if you have added an enclosure to your deck. Soft lighting with candles will provide a welcoming atmosphere to your dining experience.

A fire pit for your deck can be a built-in structure or stand-alone unit.  Whichever you choose, you’ll enjoy many relaxing moments gazing up at the stars on a nice clear night. A group of chairs and a few small tables will provide a comfortable setting around the fire.

Sunroom or Greenhouse Ideas

An outdoor deck, whether enclosed or open, can be a gardener’s delight! Fill your deck with plants of all shapes and sizes! Here you could go for a theme of plants like tropical to include fruits, exotic varieties, and trees or just everyday varieties you love. You could provide a work area with a potter’s bench and all the supplies you need to tend to your plants. Place a few comfortable chairs or chaise lounges around your deck and some stools to put your feet up. This makes another ideal spot for relaxing with a good book or having a casual get together with friends.

Finishing Touches

No matter what theme you choose for your decorating and accessories, make sure to personalize your space with some of your favorite things. Books, pictures, and collectables can add that personal flair that makes it “You”. A deck can be enjoyed year-round and provide a wonderful space for entertaining family and friends. Your deck can also be your own personal oasis providing a place for many hours of relaxation. From sofas and chairs, benches and planters, to all the variety of lighting options, you can customize your deck to reflect your personal theme.

Hatchett Contractors is prepared to help you with your finishing touches to your new deck including any outdoor lighting, custom benches, or heating. You can always depend on our friendly, courteous staff to assist you with any stage from planning to completion. We take pride in providing you, our customer, with the very best craftsmanship in the industry.