Top Materials for Colorado Decks and Mountain Homes
Colorado weather swings wildly from scorching temperatures in the summer to massive snowfalls in the winter. With such extremes either way, decks in mountain homes need to stand up to elements that can affect both its appearance and longevity.
For homeowners wanting to make the most of their outdoor space, choosing a deck material can be difficult because you want something that looks good, but you also want it to withstand the weather elements that come from living in Colorado.
Explore the top materials for Colorado decks and mountain homes to find the best option for your home.
One of the most common types of wood decking is pressure-treated lumber. It’s almost identical to untreated lumber except it can withstand elements like weather and pests because it’s had preservatives added. The added insecticides and anti-rot agents help to create a more durable wood.
Pressure-treated wood is an inexpensive option, readily available, and easy to install. You can leave the natural wood color or stain it to suit your preferences. Usually, deck experts recommend allowing the deck to age for a few months before sanding and staining.
There are some downsides to pressure-treated wood. If you want it to last, you’ll need to maintain it by re-sanding, reapplying sealant, and power washing every year. Any wood decking, even pressure-treated, tends to warp, split, and crack. Despite sealant, moisture can slip through that barrier and into the planks, which is entirely plausible since Colorado winters leave substantial amounts of snow and ice on decks.
Compared to pressure-treated wood, cedar decking is a step up in quality. It’s untreated since cedar is naturally rot-resistant and a pest deterrent because of natural tannins. Cedar is also lightweight and easy to install as well. As it ages, the planks will gradually fade to a light grey.
Heartwood vs. Softwood
If you do decide to use cedar for your deck in Colorado, you need to make sure that you use heartwood cedar and not sapwood. Why? Heartwood is stronger because it’s cut from the center of the tree, where sapwood cedar comes from the outside and is much softer. Sapwood is more prone to scratches and dents, whereas heartwood’s density makes it a much more durable deck material.
Like pressure-treated wood, cedar needs annual upkeep to maintain its integrity, and some homeowners aren’t crazy about how the vibrant red eventually fades to a soft grey. But cedar does outperform pressure-treated decking.
Hardwood is another natural option for your deck in Denver. Due to their density, they are resistant to rotting and infestation because they also contain natural tannins like cedar. There are a variety of hardwoods, like ipe, iroko, or balau, to name a few.
Each hardwood type has a distinct appearance. For example, ipe is a rich brown that fades to a light grey if the homeowner doesn’t oil the deck at least once a year. Since they are so dense, hardwoods age better than other woods.
Hard To Find
Hardwood trees grow slowly and not as densely as other trees. They’re not a great option if you’re looking for a sustainable product. Also, the upkeep requires oiling to maintain its original appearance to prevent fading.
PVC and Vinyl
You also have deck choices that have little to no wood materials like PVC decking. Also called vinyl decking, PVC is also an option for homeowners who are looking for a resilient deck material without any maintenance. Plus, you’ll have more variations to choose from.
PVC decking is available in different colors, including a wood grain for homeowners who want the look of wood but none of the maintenance. Common colors include brown, grey, white, and tan.
Even though PVC offers some benefits, there are some drawbacks, specifically the higher cost. But the high purchase price pays for itself by not having to do the type of maintenance you would for a wood deck. Plus, PVC has less recycled material than other maintenance-free decking like composite. Recycled items make up the entirety of composite decking, while PVC only consists of a small percentage.
Composite refers to combining materials to create a new product, and in composite decking, materials vary according to the manufacturer. Typically, you can find composite planks made from recycled items like plastic or wood pulp. The plastic tends to be a low-density polyethylene, but often you can also find products created from a high-density polyethylene combined with materials that include rice hulls.
Pros of Composite
Because of its durability, composite decking is a great choice for an area like Denver that has hot summers and intense winters. It’s also eco-friendly because it’s created entirely from recycling materials and can help lower your carbon footprint. You can find composite in a variety of colors, including wood grain, as well as a range of price points to fit your budget.
Cons of Composite
Some homeowners prefer the feel of natural wood for their decks, but the reality is that pressure-treated or not, natural wood splits and cracks after some time and despite maintenance. Composite decking doesn’t split or rot even after years exposed to the elements. However, the initial cost is more than other types of decking, but you won’t have to spend money every year maintaining it outside of an occasional power wash. A composite deck will last decades, despite the extreme seasons of Colorado.
Choosing a Deck Material
Deciding on the right deck material for your property really comes down to your budget and how much maintenance you want to put in every year. Heat and moisture, from snow or humidity cause the wood planks in the deck to swell, causing warping or cupping.
Applying sealant to block moisture can help, but you’ll need to replace your deck much sooner than weather-resistant materials like composite.
Finding a Deck Contractor
After you’ve decided on which of the top materials for Colorado decks and mountain homes you’d like for your property, you’ll need to decide on one of the many deck companies in Denver like Kona Contractors. Contact us with any questions about finding the right material for your deck and a free estimate.