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Comparing Decking Materials

We may only have four or five months in Lethbridge that can properly be considered “deck weather,” so you want to be sure that you make the most of every gloriously warm minute and enjoy your deck as much as possible before the snow flies again. If you’re thinking of renovating what you’ve got, expanding or are starting from scratch, here is an inside look at which option might be best for you.


When we first moved into our home, there was a deck in the backyard, it was not built very well and we knew eventually we would rip it out. Since we love being outside and now had a yard, we knew we wanted to go bigger than what was there (It was 8x8). The debate began on HOW much bigger we wanted to go; we disagreed a bit on what we thought would be a good fit. So, once we had the old deck ripped out, we spray painted the lines of each of our ideal deck size and my husband and I placed some chairs inside the lines, walked around in it and decided that yes, bigger was better (I won, if anyone is keeping track). We’ve had this deck for a few years now and my first advice to anyone when it comes to outdoor space, you will never regret going bigger.

We decided to go with treated lumber and it was glorious once it was done, we spent a TON of time out there the first summer and regretted nothing. This was our “new deck honeymoon phase”. The honeymoon ended when a year had passed and our treated lumber had sat for a year to dry out and it was time for SOMETHING to finish it. There are such great options out there, depending on the look you want, paint, stain, clear coat. Believe me when I say, it took us longer to decide what to cover our deck with than it took us to name our firstborn child. There are many pros and cons, and after deciding that we generally like the colour of the wood, we would simply clear coat it with an oil base. The downside of this is that without a tint to protect your wood, you need to refinish your deck more often than if you choose solid or even semi-solid stain. Which I didn’t mind, I like to paint.

Famous last words. Because if you don’t own a paint sprayer, bigger stops being better and you are halfway through the process before you realize this is going to have to be done AGAIN in way too short of a time. And you can’t NOT finish it; our Alberta winters will cause unprotected (even treated) wood to wear and eventually rot. Doing the job yourself saves you money, but the supplies alone add up. I started to wonder how many years into my deck I would be before I could have just spent the extra cash on Trex.

Composite decking materials resist damage, they don’t rot, they don’t splinter and they are the ultimate in labour saving. Honeymoon deck phase forever. The disadvantage here is that you are paying those maintenance-free costs upfront.

While the upfront cost difference is significant, it does save you money in the long run. An untreated wood deck has a lifespan of about 15 years, with regular maintenance, that can be extended to about 20 years. A composite deck will last 25-30 years and you don’t lift a finger. Yes, it’s a bigger up-front investment, but take the deck cost and supplies to refinish along with your time spent over 20 years and compare that to the 30 years you will get without spending a dime on your Trex decking.

Check out the Trex website to calculate your savings over time:

Whatever material you inherited when you bought your home, or what you choose when building, make sure you maintain your deck properly to protect your investment and keep it safe and stable for many years. We still love our deck, but when those 15-20 years are up and she needs to be replaced, I know which product I’m choosing.








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