Woman with cup of coffee sitting on a patio wooden deck resting after working in the garden

Are you dreaming of warmer weather and those hot summer nights? If you are, then you already know that the best way to enjoy those particular nights is on your very own deck. 

A beautiful and functional deck should operate as an extension of your indoor living spaces. It is a place to gather, laugh, eat, and bond. For homeowners, an excellent deck is often only second to the perfect kitchen on the wishlist. 

The only way that the ideal deck could be even more perfect is if you build it out of sustainable decking materials. If you are like most people, though, the thought of a sustainably produced deck is easier imagined than done. 

At Dupont Construction and Remodeling, our goal is to make your deck design an absolute breeze. Keep reading to learn all you need to know about sustainable decking materials. Let us take the mystery and stigma out of sustainability.

You have several options when it comes to deck building, and some are more sustainable than others. Unfortunately, when talking about sustainability, you have to consider many factors. It is not always clear and easy to figure out which option is the most green. 

To help you out, we will list some of our favorite options, but the choice of which one to go with is entirely yours. 

Barbecue grill cooker with large wooden barrel of fresh basil on open outdoor deck

Wood

The most popular decking material, wood, is what most decks are made from traditionally. Wood is a natural resource, and it is renewable. It is non-toxic, and it sequesters carbon. 

One of the most sustainable aspects of natural wood is that it can be recycled, regenerated, and when it is left alone, it biodegrades without leaving any polluting byproducts. For those homeowners who try to be as eco-conscious as possible, try to use softwoods instead of hardwoods. They have a much faster rate of growth, and they are much more sustainable. 

Beyond the choice of wood, homeowners should also consider the amount of travel required for the wood to reach you. Research your lumber dealer to find out where the lumber they sell comes from. If the wood must travel from great distances, the eco-footprint is too great to allow for sustainability. 

You should try to find a lumber dealer who is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). Be aware that the Forest Stewardship Council has higher standards and is stricter in its practices than the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. 

One drawback of natural wood is that it must be strictly maintained. It is vulnerable to rot and pest infestations. You should clean your wood deck at least once a year and stained and varnished every three years or so. 

Check out our post on traditional wood decking here.

Empty walkout deck boasts redwood railings overlooking well kept back yard.

Modified Woods

Thermally modified wood is made by treating wood with heat and steam. This process removes organic matter from the wood. This matter is what attracts rot and insects, so its removal allows for less maintenance and longer life. 

The processed wood absorbs less moisture, and therefore, it is less prone to degradation. This process has been around since the early 90s and is now increasing in popularity in the US.   

Wood that has been treated with acetic anhydride, or vinegar, is another option. This wood is resistant to water and is more stable. As with thermally modified wood, it requires less treatment and maintenance. 

Aluminum 

Aluminum decking is incredibly sustainable and durable. They are often made from recycled content. Additionally, construction scraps can also be recycled and reused.  

If you do decide to replace your aluminum deck in the future, the boards can be easily recycled and reused as well. These boards often have the look of wood. 

Aluminum is one of the sturdier materials with which to build your deck. It is resistant to water and moisture. Also, it usually stays cooler to the touch and won’t burn your feet in the hot summer months. 

Composite Wood Deck with Metal Railing

Composites

Composite products are a popular option for the eco-conscious. It is flexible in its design uses, and it can be low-maintenance. This faux-wood product is made by combining wood fiber sawdust and recycled plastic pieces and binding them with resin. 

When shopping for composite decking materials, you have several options. Here are some of the most popular brands and the products they offer:

  • Westech TruGrain– 40% rice husks, rock salt, and mineral oils
  • Trex– 95% recycled sawdust and plastic film
  • TimberTech– 51% recycled wood flour and post-consumer plastic
  • Fiberon– Locally sourced plastic and lumber mill scrap
  • MoistureShield– 95% recycled content- includes mill waste, construction debris, and recycled HDPE plastics
  • Cali Bamboo BamDeck– 40% recycled HDPE plastics
  • Cali Bamboo Infinity Decking– 100% recycled materials- half hardwood scrap and half HDPE plastics

As with any commercial product, as the consumer, you have many options for composite decking materials. They range in quality from low to middle, and even high-end products. You should keep in mind the fact that most finished composite products are not recyclable.

Composite decking materials are very durable. They are not likely to swell or split, as natural wood is prone to do. They are also resistant to insects and rot. 

Like natural wood, composite decks require regular cleaning. The upkeep and maintenance are slightly more manageable, though, as you do not need to stain and seal them. The cleaning process only requires a bit of soap and water. 

One main advantage of composite materials is the wide variety of colors available to you. Unfortunately, composite decking materials are liable to fade over time. But, as the materials fade over time, the change should be gradual and uniform.

When it comes to sustainability, you have a wide range of choices. There are options to please any taste or preference. Some of the factors you need to consider are total costs and the amount of maintenance you are willing to do in the future. 

Whatever choice you make, just be sure it is an informed one. We recommend that you do your own research. Talk to manufacturers and dealers and make the best choice for you and your home. When you are ready to build your sustainable deck, contact Dupont Construction and Remodeling. Get your free quote and begin building your perfect deck today.