Decking is a home investment that requires a large amount of time and money to kickstart. People look at adding decking to their homes for a variety of reasons; to add value to their homes or to create an outdoor entertainment area. To level off an unusable sloping section, to provide second story outdoor living, to make a beautiful jetty/deck by the water. (Decks gravitate to 3 things; slope, water and money)
Despite the longevity of a deck once it is installed, many homeowners tend to get caught up on price as a consideration and can’t move past or justify paying more for a deck that will truly last.
In this article, we outline two main options: timber or composite, and their short vs long-term costs, as each material has its positives and negatives.
Short-Term Decking Costs
In the middle of decking price range is timber decking due to the initial cost savings, a variety of grades, and availability of raw material. A higher grade of timber will be reflected in its price. In Australia, we’re lucky to have access to skilled carpenters and craftsmen but they also add to the price if there are any necessary changes in design or structure.
Composite materials are usually more expensive because most of the raw materials used in making products like TREX are recycled. These materials are carefully processed to ensure the highest level of quality and performance.
TREX Transcend is composite decking for those who want nothing but the best while TREX also carries the Contour range for homeowners on a stricter budget. There is less variety in composite decking material which means a more uniform look and less waste produced, but homeowners will pay the premium for this.
Aluminium decking is typically about twice as expensive as traditional wood and composite decking. The initial outlay in price necessitates professional installation due to the tools need to cut and fix aluminium.
PVC decking costs more than traditional timber and composite. Due to its manufacture and nature, PVC decking was a stop-gap product in the transition time between uncapped (1st generation) and capped (3rd generation) composites that never really hit the mark. Most quality decking brands have discontinued their sales in Australia of this type of decking due to performance issues in our hot climate.
Long-Term Decking Costs
Considering the long-term cost of decking materials is important.
The maintenance of timber costs can add up over the lifetime of a deck. And if part of the deck needs to be replaced due to warping or rot, the total cost of the deck is significantly increased. The cost of buying maintenance products, such as decking stain and oils can be substantial.
Decking materials vary in price, therefore if you don’t mind the maintenance that comes with wood decks or a lower grade product you can save money initially.
Composite decking is often cheaper overall – even though it may initially cost 2-3 times more per board. The boards’ durability and resistance to the toughest Australian weather conditions can save you considerable time and money over the life of your deck.
The long-term costs of PVC decking mostly tie-in to maintenance and replacement/loss of quality due to fading, staining and scratching. Depending on how much you paid for the PVC deck, it becomes more cost-effective than timber after 5-7 years. Not when it fails within only a couple of seasons.
Choosing the right decking for your home is important as it forms the foundation (literally) for your outdoor living and entertainment area.
To ensure you get maximum enjoyment out of your deck I’ve written a guide on the subject. It’s called The Ultimate Guide to Selecting Your Deck.
It explores consideration factors such as appearance, care & cleaning, durability, cost and more.