custom decks : natural vs man made

Decking: Natural Vs Man Made, Which is Better?

Decking: Natural Vs Man Made, Which is Better?

Nothing adds that luxury touch as much as a beautiful wood deck.  It not only accents and highlights your landscape but also adds valuable equity to your home.  The only question remains, which material will yield the best wear and look for my home.

In its infancy, the man made deck material industry struggled to be sure.  Quality was an issue as was poor fit and finish.  Some of the problem was indeed due to poor quality of materials; however, some of the blame needs to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the decking contractors.

The truth is, you can have the most expensive materials available but if your building contractor does a poor job of framing your deck project, you will still be left with a substandard product.  Solid deck framing techniques are the key to realizing the outdoor deck of your dreams.

Decking rule 1

Always have your new deck project engineered by a professional who knows what they are doing.  They will ensure that your new deck can support the loads required and withstand any curves mother nature may choose to throw at you.

decking rule 2

Get a licensed and bonded contractor to partner with you.  They will make sure the correct procedures are followed and that your investment will be something you can be proud of for years to come.

With that being said, There is still the matter of which material is best for your project.  Let’s look at the various materials available today and analyze the pros and cons of each.  We’ll start with some of the man-made materials.

Composite Deck Materials

Composite Decking Materials

Composite decking and polymer lumber, represent the fastest-growing segment of deck materials sold today. There are over 200 companies involved in the manufacture of these materials, some good and others not so much.  Most products are made from polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride, and come in a wide range of styles and colors.

Why You Should Consider Composite Decking

There are many advantages to composite deck materials.  Some of them are:

bullitEase of installation

bullitDurability and longevity – They will definitely look good for years with minimal upkeep or attention

bullitLow maintenance – There are no costly coatings that need to be applied to maintain their condition. These materials won’t warp or crack, as natural wood products tend to.

Why You Might Avoid Composite Decking

Bear in mind that many of the arguments against composite decking are due to the quality of materials. It is truly a case of, “You get what you pay for.”

bullitIt is the most expensive option, other than Aluminum

bullitSome composite material can have a fake wood appearance that will fade and age over time

bullitIf not properly framed, it can sag and warp over the years

bullitIt is still susceptible to mold, and fungus, especially in humid environments or in constantly shady locations

When choosing composite decking, plan to use high-end manufacturers, such as Trex, Azek or TimberTech. For additional information and reviews of composite material, visit

decking: natural vs man made

Pressure Treated Lumber

Why You Should Consider Pressure Treated Lumber

If you are on a tight budget, pressure treated lumber may be the material for you.

bullitIt is a low cost alternative to the more expensive composites and natural hard woods

bullitIt is strong. It will hold up under severe abuse and still look well. Again, the caveat being how well it is engineered and framed.

bullitIt is insect resistant. It’s actually toxic to most critters so you won’t experience rot and destruction from termites and other unwanted pests

Why You Might Avoid Pressure Treated Lumber

bullitBecause it is treated. It has toxic chemicals that your family will be exposed to for the life of your deck. If you choose to replace it, the toxic wood will be difficult to get rid of and do not try burning it, not a good idea.

bullitLess expensive treated lumber may have residual moisture in the wood grains that, as it dries, can cause the wood to twist and warp leaving you with an unsightly deck for years to come

If you choose Pressure Treated Lumber, get some help with the selection and don’t be fooled by low prices. Low cost does equate to low quality when it comes to this type of decking material.

decking: natural vs man made

Natural and Exotic Hardwoods

Ah, now we’re talking. How about some stunning Brazilian Teak wood or perhaps some Tigerwood… Meow! There is no question about it; if you have the money these exotic woods are tough and beautiful. Other less expensive natural wood choices are Redwood, Cedar or Pine.

Why You Should Consider natural hardwood

bullitIt is extremely durable and looks amazing

bullitBecause it is so dense and strong it resists warping and twisting over time and will look great for years to come

bullitLess expensive than most composite alternatives

Why You Might Avoid Natural Hardwood

bullitThe main obstacle for most is price. Yes it is more expensive than other “Soft Wood” Options but it also looks much better

bullitBecause it is so dense and strong it resists warping and twisting over time and will look great for years to come

True, there is a higher cost to these woods but aren’t you worth it?  Sometimes you just gotta have it.

decking: natural vs man made

Aluminum Decking Materials

Ah yes, nothing says class like a real aluminum deck in your back yard. Okay fine, my personal bias is showing through, sorry. Kidding aside, Aluminum may be a viable alternative for you.

Why You Should Consider Aluminum 

bullitNo mess, no fuss. Aluminum is definitely durable and won’t rust or deteriorate over time

bullitIt requires less complexed framing due to its high tensile strength.

bullitIs available in many quality finishes including a faux wood grain

Why You Might Avoid Aluminum

bullitCost, this is the most expensive decking option in the bunch

bullitAvailability. As a relatively new comer, aluminum decking is more difficult to find in the exact color or style you desire

bullitNot a good choice for the DIY homeowner. Due to its complexity, only professional installers are recommended. Don’t take short cuts here.

You really should check out the styles and finishes available today. It’s not the “ballpark bleachers” look anymore. Some places to look are: Nexaninc, Versadeck, and Lastdeck

So there you have it, our short list of decking materials.  The most important thing to remember is that if you want a beautiful deck that will be a showcase for years to come, do it right.  Have your deck plans fully engineered for structural integrity and bearing load weight, and then enlist the help of a professional contractor.  If you want to do it yourself, fine.  However, it never hurts to have a licensed and bonded contractor by your side as you do it.

Sierra Home Services specializes in decking and providing quality results that will help you enjoy your new deck for years to come.  Give us a call.  We would love to sit down with you and help you plan your new project.  Together we can make something beautiful.

Graphics and Content created by, RLJ Online Marketing, LLC    All Rights Reserved, 2016

Robert Jacob

Robert Jacob - Author, RLJ Online Marketing, LLC I have been researching and writing blogs for quite a while now and I have come to realize that great content takes effort. I hope you enjoy the work here. ~Robert Jacob

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