Patio Decks in Austin – What Material is Best?

If you are considering having a deck built in Austin, on your property or attached to your home, this information is invaluable. You will be able to determine the cost as well as the value for your ideal patio deck. This description covers 95% of most new deck applications.

The four most popular options for a new deck or patio are wood, composite, PVC, and Ironwood with metal framing. The cost difference between these options is fairly dramatic. Your choice depends upon what you are looking for with regards to durability, maintenance, and longevity.

Questions you ask before you build a deck

  • Are you keeping your home for more than five years?
  • Do you like or loathe staining wood?
  • Are you keeping your home for 20 or more years?
  • Is the deck in direct sunlight or under a cover?

Wood decks

Typically Western Red Cedar or treated lumber, a wood deck is significantly less expensive than composite or Ironwood. If you do not plan on staying in the home for more than five years, this may be an excellent financial option for you. If you are waiting for more than five years, you might be better off with composite or Ironwood for the long haul based on durability and no maintenance. The exception is if you are diligent and consistent with maintaining your deck and staining it frequently if using transparent stain. Typically solid stains last a lot longer so if you do stain with a solid you will get more life from the dye. Example of cost savings: On a recent large deck installation, the customer spent $3800 less using wood over composite decking.

Wood deck pros

The most affordable solution, properly stained looks beautiful, natural look and feel, you can add on or make repairs years down the road quickly.

Wood deck cons

In Austin, wood decks require consistent care. Unstained the wood will warp, crack, and rot out very quickly. If stained with transparent stain, it needs to be re-stained every year with our Austin weather. The only exception would be if you initially use commercial grade stain, which is much more expensive but lasts longer. If you do not keep up on maintenance at all the life span could be as little as 5-10 years. Wood decks tend to absorb water if at ground level and not correctly installed. They also require chemicals in the stain or cleaning process.

Composite Decking

Composite decking is more expensive than natural wood but is much less maintenance and lasts longer than a Western Red Cedar deck. Like all the products, there are cheap composites, and there are expensive composites. The more expensive products have a more tropical hardwood look to them. The more expensive ones are a little more durable as well.

Composite Deck pros

No annual maintenance, decks can last as long as 20 years or more. NO STAINING. No cracking/splintering.

Composite deck cons

More expensive than wood. Slight color fading (not as bad as it used to be). Also gets hotter than wood decking in the sun and can scratch easily. Additionally can make your deck look like it has waves if improperly installed. Materials frequently change so you can’t get patches or add on to the deck if you can’t get the same product years later.

PVC Decks

Slightly more expensive than composite PVC is the next option. PVC is a polyvinyl decking material that has some differences to composite which can make it a more likely choice for a homeowner, including a charming real wood look. It is also lighter weight than composite. We have heard lots of positive things about PVC decks, but price sometimes precludes using this option. You also have to select the correct fastening system as some clip systems do not work.

PVC Deck pros

No annual maintenance, and lasts a very long time 20+ years. NO STAINING. No cracking/splintering and is more durable than composite. PVC decking heats up slower than composite and cools down faster than composite but still gets hot in the sun. You can use a blind fastener system, so there is a spotless look. Certain brands have a lifetime warranty, and most people believe this product looks the most like real wood (depending on brand and product choice).

PVC deck cons

PVC is more expensive than standard wood decks. It gets hotter than wood decking in the sun and but does cool down quicker than composite. Additionally, it can make your deck look like it has waves if improperly installed. Materials can change, so there is a risk you can’t quickly get patches or add on to the deck and match perfectly years later. Some blind fastening clip systems have been known to fail, so selecting the correct fastening system is essential.

 Ironwood (metal framing) Deck

This is, by far, my favorite option. This option is by far the most durable and long-lasting. However, it’s the most expensive option as well. This option is for the homeowner that wants a durable or stunning deck and is typically planning on staying in the home long term. This option will change the look of your home dramatically. Very high end look, and when it incorporates metal railing and planters, it’s only over the top beautiful. Over time, this option is more expensive but balances out due to the lack of having a lot of maintenance or deck replacement. The underneath of the deck structure is welded steel set in concrete, so there are no wood rot issues. The top of the deck is Ironwood, is also known as IPE (Epay), or Brazilian hardwood. This is the most attractive option of all decks, in my opinion, and you will get non-stop compliments from your guests.

Ironwood Deck pros

High-end and gorgeous, unstained the wood can last as long as 20 years. If appropriately stained and maintained properly, it can last 25-30 years. VERY durable and the stain you apply is very easy to use. Constant compliments.

Ironwood deck cons

Higher cost. Does require oil staining 2x per year to keep that shiny, stunning new look, but the staining is very easy to accomplish. You can oil stain the deck with a brush and rag, and it goes by very quickly and upon completion looks magazine or showroom quality. I recently re-stained/oiled a deck in under 2 hours.