Decking offers a casual, “woodsy” way to entertain outdoors. A deck truly creates the benefit of adding square footage to your home without adding square footage to your home.
One of the first choices a homeowner must make when deciding to add a deck to a home is which type of decking material to use. The choice isn’t always easy.
Don’t be so quick to assume that the only way to create a resort-quality look in your yard is with a hardwood deck.
It turns out that not everyone considers wood decking to be the best choice when creating an outdoor space.
In fact, homeowners are increasingly turning to alternatives that provide better durability, longer life and far less maintenance while creating jaw-dropping beauty and elegance.
Take a look at 15 alternatives to wood decking below that create dazzling outdoor spaces for relaxing, dining and entertaining!
Table of Contents
- What Are the Disadvantages of Wood Decking?
- 1. Poured Concrete
- 2. PVC Decking
- 3. Concrete Pavers
- 4. Composite Decking
- 5. Natural Stone
- 6. Porcelain
- 7. Vinyl Tiles Decking
- 8. Bamboo Decking
- 9. Waterproof Vinyl Decking System
- 10. Aluminum Decking
- 11. Rubber Paver Tiles
- 12. Interlocking Deck Tiles
- 13. Silca System Decking
- 14. Gravel
- 15. Rice Hull Decking
- What Is the Cheapest Decking Material?
What Are the Disadvantages of Wood Decking?
It’s easy to see why people like the rugged look of wood decking. However, the truth is that wood decking requires some serious maintenance.
Wood is susceptible to peeling, cracking, splintering and rotting. It also needs to be refinished every one to three years.
Any rotting that occurs within a deck can quickly spread to a home! That includes rotting caused by termite damage.
Fortunately, there are many alternatives to wood decking that are attractive and practical. Explore the world beyond wood decks when planning your outdoor space.
Here are some great alternatives to Wood Decking to consider for your outdoor project.
1. Poured Concrete
Poured concrete is an easy and affordable way to build an outdoor space. A poured concrete patio is created using a seamless concrete slab for a smooth finish.
Poured concrete is exceptional when it comes to resisting water pressure in a way that protects your home from moisture buildup.
While poured concrete isn’t considered a glamorous option, it can be a great way to create a large deck on a budget. Using stamped concrete can be a way to add some flair without increasing your budget.
2. PVC Decking
PVC decking is made from capped polymer deck boards that recreate the look of genuine wood deck boards.
However, these boards are made from a synthetic material that isn’t susceptible to mold, moisture, mildew and weathering the way that natural wood tends to be.
These boards also require essentially no maintenance. They are available in an endless array of colors and finishes for custom deck looks.
3. Concrete Pavers
While concrete pavers are similar to poured concrete, they offer a more “artisan” look.
Each block is applied by hand. This means you can choose a custom design using pavers of different sizes and cuts.
In addition to being attractive, affordable and easy to maintain, concrete pavers can easily last up to five decades.
4. Composite Decking
Composite decking is made from a mix of wood fiber, plastics and a binding agent.
While composite decking looks very similar to wood, it is actually much stronger and denser than pure wood. Many brands offer eco-friendly composite decking boards.
5. Natural Stone
A natural stone patio/deck is an investment that will pay off for life. The big benefit of natural stone is its durability.
In fact, a patio made of natural stone will last about twice as long as a patio made from concrete pavers.
That means it’s very likely that you’ll never need to redo your patio or deck if you choose natural stone. Natural stone also stands up to foot traffic and the elements just beautifully!
Porcelain tiles are commonly used for high-end properties. They are especially popular for use around pools and hot tubs.
Porcelain tiles are waterproof. In fact, they handle both foot traffic and high moisture wonderfully. Porcelain tiles come in an endless variety of colors and patterns.
7. Vinyl Tiles Decking
Available in a wide variety of colors and finishes, vinyl creates a wood-like look. The big perk of choosing vinyl over wood is that it’s highly resistant to mold and mildew.
Vinyl also helps homeowners avoid common deck problems like splintering, fading and pest damage.
8. Bamboo Decking
Bamboo decking is known for its natural beauty. Its durability and weather-resistant properties make it ideal for decks in nearly all climates.
Bamboo is a great option for homeowners looking for an affordable, durable way to do a “teak” look.
9. Waterproof Vinyl Decking System
This vinyl decking system is the ultimate way to create a waterproof deck that will stay beautiful for years with almost zero maintenance.
A vinyl decking system is actually a sheet-like membrane that goes over your existing plywood deck.
This can be a cost-effective way to create a waterproof deck without the need to completely tear down an existing deck to start from scratch.
Of course, it’s necessary to make sure that your current decking material is compatible with a vinyl decking system.
Generally, materials like poplar plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), particleboard, lauan panels and treated plywood are not recommended for use with vinyl decking systems.
10. Aluminum Decking
Wood-look aluminum decking comes in a wide variety of rich colors to mimic the look of real wood.
Many people love this ultra-easy decking solution because it’s lightweight, affordable and easy to install.
Aluminum decking is installed using simple interlocking installation. In addition to being strong and resilient, it is resistant to insect infestations. It also won’t crack, splinter or rot like wood.
11. Rubber Paver Tiles
A patio made of rubber paver tiles is considered the child-friendly way to build a patio or deck surface!
This can also be a great option for anyone who suffers from arthritis or joint pain because it’s a very soft, comfortable option.
Rubber pavers also provide slip resistance that is great for children and the elderly. They are installed easily with either glue or a tab-connection method.
12. Interlocking Deck Tiles
There’s a lot of range when choosing interlocking deck tiles. They are typically comprised of hardwood, sawdust and plastic.
Interlocking deck tiles are ideal for someone who doesn’t necessarily have the time or skill to install old-fashioned decking.
They install easily using an interlocking method. Another benefit is that deck tiles are designed to be extremely durable. They will stand up against rot, decay, mold and bug infestations easily!
13. Silca System Decking
This is a decking option that’s just beginning to gain traction. Each piece of Silca System decking is actually an engineered polycarbonate grate that is made from 100% recycled materials.
Each grate is designed to screw in directly to the joist of your standard timber deck. Grates can also be added to a floating joist system.
The beauty of this highly versatile option is that it provides a flat surface that can be used to lay down a wide variety of paving materials that includes pavers, tiles, bricks, natural stone, porcelain and more.
Gravel is a great option for a do-it-yourself patio or deck that doesn’t require a big construction project.
In fact, very little prep work is needed on the area where the patio will be placed before the gravel can be applied.
Gravel patios are also very easy to remove without the need for any drilling, scraping or hauling of heavy materials.
In addition, gravel provides great drainage while also helping to prevent erosion in your yard. Finally, gravel is an extremely affordable option. Consider pea gravel for a deck or patio over other options because it is much softer to walk on!
15. Rice Hull Decking
Rice hull decking is intriguing due to its eco-friendly qualities! It is actually made of a combination of rice husks, salt and mineral oil.
Rice hull decking is completely recyclable. It offers many of the same visual qualities as high-end options like hardwood and teak. Many people choose this option when creating “tropical” decks at their homes.
What Is the Cheapest Decking Material?
The cheapest decking material is gravel. Gravel can cost as little as 50 cents per square foot.
In addition, installation costs are significantly lower for gravel when compared to other options because there’s no need to build up any sort of platform or support structure before placing down gravel.
The lifetime cost of gravel is also much lower than most other options because there’s no need to deal with refinishing or repairing gravel.
When looking for the cheapest decking option when building an actual deck instead of opting for a patio, pressure treated wood tends to be the cheapest choice.
This type of pressure wood is treated with chemicals to resist rot and insects.
Synthetic and composite decking options tend to cost more than wood because they have been engineered for increased durability and weatherproof qualities.
The higher initial cost is balanced by the fact that engineered decking typically requires much less maintenance.
There is also a much lower chance that you’ll need to ever replace your deck due to rot, termite damage or moisture issues. Lastly, engineered options don’t need to be refinished every few years the way that real wood decks require.
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