How To Choose The Best Deck Materials For Your Home In 2021: The Complete Guide

When it comes to building a deck at your home, you have plenty of options to choose from. Specifically, when it comes to the best deck materials, there is a lot of variety in the market. Popular choices include composite decking, hardwood decking, and PVC decking.

In the case of composite decking, a number of notable brands like Timbertech, Fiberon, and Trex dominate the market. In the hardwood category, Mangaris and Ipe are the top choices. And Azek is the go-to PVC decking option.

With such a variety, it is difficult to make a decision. To help, we’ve created this complete guide that covers all the best deck materials and decking brands while providing you the pros and cons of each. This will assist you as you determine which decking material is best for your next deck-building project.

Azek Deck Materials

Azek PVC decking is the top PVC choice when it comes to deck building. Compared to composite options, PVC decking is typically lighter in weight than most other building materials. Azek boards also feel and look slightly different than composite boards.

The great thing about Azek decking is that it is easier to install and requires literally no maintenance over the long-term. Azek is also incredibly durable and long-lasting. You will get a 50-year fade and stain warranty and a lifetime limited warranty on most Azek decking products.

Pros and Cons of Azek PVC Decking

Pros Cons
Highly durable, lifetime warranty Feels less wood-like
Easy to install Costs more
Lightweight More prone to heat up under sun
Resistant to mold and mildew
Resistant to scratches
Zero maintenance

Fiberon Deck Options

Fiberon offers the most extensive range of decking options. These include both three-side capped and four-side capped composite boards. Fiberon products are sorted into six collections. These include:

  • Promenade: Promenade is offered in six varied colors. These PVC decking boards are four-side capped with a slip and weather-resistant surface. Fiberon backs the products in this series with a lifetime performance warranty and a 50-year stain and fade warranty.
  • Paramount: This is another PVC decking line, which comes in four distinct colors. These boards are highly durable, slip-resistant, and very lightweight.
  • Concordia: Concordia features Fiberon’s premium composite decking products. Boards in the Concordia series feature 94% recycled content and are available in eight colors. All deck materials have a 50-year fade and stain warranty and a lifetime performance warranty.
  • Sanctuary: This collection comes with three-side capped boards with a rustic finish. Available in five colors, Sanctuary boards have a flat bottom and are backed by a 40-year stain, fade, and performance warranty.
  • Good Life: This is the more affordable of the Fiberon composite decking offerings. Good Life boards are grooved at the bottom and three-side capped. You can choose from six color options and will receive a 25 to 30-year stain, fade, and performance warranty.
  • ArmorGuard: ArmorGuard decking comes with a 25-year warranty with two color options to choose from.

Pros and Cons of Fiberon Decking

Pros Cons
Wide range of collections and colors Available only in larger lengths
Multiple price ranges Budget options prone to scratching
Easily available
Choice between a flat and scalloped bottom
Both three-side and four-side capped options

TimberTech Decking

TimberTech is one of the most popular composite decking brands. The composite boards offered by TimberTech stand apart for the patterns, colors, and finish styles. All the options offered by TimberTech are broadly categorized into three series – TimberTech Pro, TimberTech Azek, and TimberTech Edge. Here is a look at each.

  • Edge: The TimberTech Edge series comes with budget-friendly options for the consumers. It comprises three-sided boards and is further subdivided into two collections – Premier and Prime+. The Premier collection features Maritime Grey and Dark Teak colors. Prime+ collection comes with Sea Salt Grey and Coconut Husk colors. TimberTech offers 25-year limited fade and stain warranty on all Edge decking.
  • Pro: The Pro line-up comes with a synthetic cap on all four sides of the board, which makes it more durable. These boards come with a 30-year limited warranty. This line-up includes the Legacy, Terrain, and Reserve collections with a total of 13 colors.
  • Azek: The TimberTech Azek decking line-up from TimberTech features capped polymer boards, which are lightweight and come with a 50-year warranty. The Azek line-up comes in eight colors.

Pros and Cons of TimberTech Decking

Pros Cons
Widely available Poor scratch-resistance in budget options
Excellent color options Dark colors prone to heat up
Four-side capped moisture-proof options
Wide pricing range
Better finish with four-side capped boards

Trex Deck Materials

Trex is among the pioneers of composite deck materials. It is a well-known and established brand, so you can be sure of the quality of the products. The company offers three distinct lines of composite decking. These include Enhance, Select, and Transcend. Here what each offers:

  • Enhance. Trex Enhance is the most affordable of the three lines. It is further subdivided into two separate series – Basics and Naturals. Enhance Basics come in three color options, namely Beach Dune, Clam Shell, and Saddle. Naturals offer a more wood-like texture and are available in four colors, including Coastal Bluff, Foggy Wharf, Rocky Harbor, and Toasted Sand. All Trex Enhance boards come with grooves at the bottom.
  • Select. Trex Select offers slightly better quality than the Enhance series. The Select series boards are available in five colors. These include Madeira, Pebble Grey, Saddle, Winchester Grey, and Woodland Brown.
  • Transcend. Trex Transcend is the premium offering from Trex, and it shows in the finish, wood-grain pattern, and texture of the Transcend boards. Transcend comes with a solid 25-year fade and stain warranty.

Pros and Cons of Trex Decking

Pros Cons
Highly affordable Limited color options
Decent range of options Capped on only three sides
Eco-friendly 95% recycled content
Suited for DIY installation
Easily available

Mangaris Decking

If you are a fan of hardwood decking, Mangaris is deck-building material for you. Mangaris decking boards are made from Red Balau, Yellow Balau, and other wood species offering an exceptional degree of durability and strength. Unlike composite decking, which can often be installed as a DIY option, you will need a professional decking contractor to build a Mangaris deck.

When it comes to Mangaris decking, you can choose from Mangaris Red, Mangaris Red Plus, Mangaris Diamond, and Mangaris Gold options. These breakdown as:

  • Red: Mangaris Red is sourced from Red Balau and has a very hard and dense profile with interlocking grains. It is also extremely resistant to mold, fungus, and any other insect attacks.
  • Red Plus: Mangaris Red Plus boards are pre-grooved, also sourced from Red Balau.
  • Diamond: These hardwood decking boards are made from Merbau wood. The original color is white-to-yellow, and upon cutting, the wood matures into a brown-red appearance. These boards offer excellent fire-resistance.
  • Gold: Made from Gold Balau, these decking boards come with a deep golden color intermingled with brown stripes. The wood is incredibly hard with interlocked grains.

Pros and Cons of Mangaris Decking

Pros Cons
Exceptionally Durable High Cost
High Weather-Resistance More Labor-intensive
High Fire-Resistance
Excellent Appearance

Ipe Deck Building Materials

Ipe is another hardwood that is used for decking. This particular variety of hardwood is also known as ironwood, for its exceptional durability, fire-resistance, and low maintenance needs. Ipe decking looks exceptionally beautiful, and the boards can be finished to have a smooth glass-like finish.

Ipe decks are resistant to fire, mildew, mold, or insect attacks because of the exceptional density and toughness of the wood. The wood for Ipe decking also remains relatively cooler as it won’t easily absorb heat.

Compared to composite decking, a hardwood like Ipe typically comes from sustainable and green sources, which makes it 100% environmentally friendly.

Pros and Cons of Ipe Decking

Pros Cons
Very dense and durable Higher material costs
Resistant to fire, mildew, insects More labor-intensive
Keeps cooler in summer Higher installation costs
Environment-friendly option
Little to no maintenance needed
Excellent aesthetics

If you’re thinking about adding a deck to your property, your planning should take into account ROI variables. Materials, size, access, and the “wow factor” all contribute to a prospective buyer’s perception of the value added by a deck to the property. It’s worth becoming familiar with deck construction in the comparable properties in your area so you can position yours where you want to be value-wise. Another value relationship to consider is that between your deck budget and the overall value of the property. It doesn’t make ROI dollars and sense to build something too grand for the size and likely resale price of the home. One rule of thumb used by contractors and architects is that a deck should be no larger than the home’s biggest interior space. 

Keep in mind, too, that adding value to your home gets the attention of the assessor and the underwriter, so your property taxes and insurance premiums are like to be increased. Like anything else built by human beings, a deck will inevitably require some maintenance and/or repair as time goes by. Good choices of materials, with expert design and construction, are the ticket to keeping those costs down and your enjoyment and ROI up.