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All Decked OutProjects Made Easy

Once the sun comes out we all long for that perfect deck. To Marvin's, the ideal summer night includes lounging in patio furniture, eating some grilled goodies and sipping cold beverages while watching the fireflies. A deck is a place for family dinners or entertaining friends. So, we want to give you all the right tips for choosing what kind of deck is right for you.

Wood vs Composite

Deck ComparisonReal wood decks have long been the most common decks out there. Typically, decking wood is divided into three categories: Pressure Treated Lumber, Redwood and Cedar Beams, and Tropical Hardwoods.  Each has their own unique qualities that can make it right for your project. More recently, composite or plastic decking has been making its way into the mainstream. This manufactured lumber has some key advantages as well.

Pressure Treated Lumber

This lumber is the most common in decks. It is the most affordable and widely available at almost any lumber yard (like Marvin's). This is mostly cut from southern yellow pine and then chemically treated to help resist weather elements like bugs and rot. This is the best option if you're looking for a standard and affordable deck. The downside to pressure treated lumber is that it can tend to warp or swell with humidity. Additionally, like any wood deck, it requires some maintenance such as power washing and staining.

Redwood or Cedar Lumber

Tropical DeckThese woodtypes have some additional benefits, although they are typically a bit more expensive. The natural oils in these dark-colored wood types make them resistant to rot and decay, plus they're pretty lightweight. Unlike pine, redwood and cedar lumber is not as likely to warp or split. The downside is that this wood can be considerably more expensive. You will need to do maintenance on a redwood or cedar deck, such as scrubbing the surface and applying a clear finish every three to four years. The stain used must be semi-transparent, otherwise the wood will weather to new colors, often gray.

Tropical Hardwoods

Tropical hardwoods are the most expensive decking option. They are dense and durable, making them very resistant to rot. They typically require less maintenance (such as cleaning and wood preservative) but because they are so dense they do not easily absorb stain. Standard decking stain will leave behind a sticky residue. Marvin's, like many other lumber yards, does not stock Tropical Hardwoods. Most must be ordered at specialty lumber suppliers or online, which also raises the price.

Composite Decking

Trex DeckComposite decking is made from a material that combines wood fibers and recycled plastic. Composite decking such as Trex® is considerably lower maintenance than a wood deck. It will not rot, fade or warp. It is not susceptible to insects and doesn't require staining. Because it is made of recycled materials, it is also very eco-friendly. Originally, these decks did not have the same aesthetic appeal as a wood deck, often looking cheap or plastic. However composite decking companies have taken considerable strides in recent years to provide quality looking "lumber" as an alternative to wood. At Marvin's, composite decking is a custom order product. So it may take a bit more planning, but everything will be ordered to your specifications.

Deck Screws & Hidden Fasteners

One of the other factors to consider when building a deck is whether you would like to use deck screws or hidden fasteners. Deck screws are designed to handle the elements of outdoor living. Most are resistant to rust and corrosion and are easy to screw in. They come in different colors to try and match any decking and are typically cheaper than the hidden fastener alternative.

Decking ScrewsHidden fasteners tie deck boards to a support structure by anchoring on the side or underside of each board leaving the surface of the deck fastener-free. This is for aesthetic purposes (can't see any screw heads) and for safety, as you'll never injure your feet on a screw or nail that is sticking out of a deck board. Additionally, the wood is less damaged by water, as the fasteners never penetrate the surface of the wood. These come in side mount fasteners, most of which have sharp teeth that are impaled into the side of the decking. Bottom mount fasteners are screwed into the side of a joist and then attached to the underside of the decking. This is more labor intensive but are virtually invisible from the deck. Hidden fasteners are not frequently stocked at Marvin's but can be ordered through our custom order program if you are interested.

Both are good options, but when considering a deck remember to consider the fastener type that you plan to work with. Marvin's can help give you all the information you need on all of the options available to you.

Looking for something a little more low key? Check out our page on concrete patios.

Much of this content was sourced from Popular Mechanics and manufacturer websites.