One of the best ways to improve your home’s outdoor living space is building or replacing a deck. According to Ken Englert, a decking expert and sales representative for Alexander Lumber Cortland, the COVID-19 pandemic has created significant demand for decking products as people spend more time at home. Before determining the type of deck and materials that will serve you best, it’s important to know several things:

1. Establish a budget in advance, and decide on several design aspects. “You should determine how much maintenance you’re willing to perform on the deck,” explained Englert. “Do you want a wood deck or lower-maintenance composite or PVC decking? What type of railing system interests you, and do you want lighting?”

2. Product categories have evolved greatly over the past 20 years. “Colors, textures, and options are changing all the time,” said Englert. “It can be overwhelming, so it’s important to do your homework before making the investment.”

3. Customers can choose between wood decking (cedar, IPE, tigerwood, and pressure-treated deck boards); composite decking, which combines wood fiber and PVC to create a weather-resistant core that won’t rot; and vinyl decking, which is similar in appearance to composite.

4. Treated wood can dry out and shrink over time, and requires refinishing, but is the least expensive option. “Cedar and IPE are beautiful, but are increasingly expensive and harder to find; they also require added maintenance,” added Englert. “Composite decking offers many options and price points, is low maintenance, and is softer underfoot than PVC. PVC doesn’t typically hold stains; it is more fade-resistant and won’t rot.”

5. Options for railings include hand-built wood, composite with different baluster choices, or aluminum in varying colors and textures.

Building or replacing a deck can enhance or even completely transform your outdoor living space, as well as add value to your home. As you begin your decking project, keep these tips in mind. Visit your local Alexander Lumber to view displays for inspiration, obtain samples, and speak with decking experts. We can even help you find a decking contractor to build or replace your deck if need be.