When people talk about home decks, the first thing that comes to their mind is deck boards made of hardwood and PVC. These are certainly the most popular options and often are the preferred type of decking material.
Deck boards today, however, do not only come in wood or plastic. Some companies have formulated and developed other types of planks that eliminate (if not all) common decking issues homeowners often complain about.
One example of this is aluminum decking.
Aluminum decking, though often overlooked, has been on the rise since it was introduced to the market. Many have specifically sought it out due to the features that are far better than the traditional deck boards. Still, some folks are wary about its durability—if it is up to par and can withstand certain conditions—as well as how it looks once installed.
Perhaps, you are among these people?
If so, then you are on the right page. This short yet comprehensive article will help you assess whether aluminum decking is the right choice of material for your space or not.
All About Aluminum Decking
Aluminum decking is a type of deck board that is, as suggested by its name, made out of aluminum. The planks are typically coated with polyurea elastomer which serves several purposes.
The coating helps, for instance, the board keep its original color and look. THe coating also helps reduce the metallic sound of the board, and ensure that it is not slippery. Further, since they are made of aluminum, the planks are lightweight and easy to carry.
Aluminum decking also comes in a variety of plank designs and shades, depending on the manufacturer. Most boards resemble real hardwood, making the material a great alternative to traditional deck boards.
The size of each plank is generally between 12 to 20 inches long and 6 inches wide. But this may also differ by manufacturer.
Pros and Cons
Aluminum has its own share of benefits as well as disadvantages. Here are a few important aspects you should know about:
- Strong and durable. Many may not know this, but when it comes to durability and longevity, aluminum decking outlasts nearly every other type of deck board – including pure PVC decking and composite decking.
This is because metal typically lasts longer than other materials. Aluminum decking is also anodized with a special coating to reinforce its sturdiness. It is also not easily damaged by moisture.
Aluminum decking is tough enough to hold heavy furniture, too, despite being lightweight. A standard aluminum plank, for example, can carry up to 220 to 260 pounds per square foot.
- Low maintenance. Aside from being strong and long-lasting, taking care of aluminum decking is also low maintenance. It does not warp, splinter, or crack thanks to its steel-like planks. Mold and mildew growth is not an issue as well since it does not contain wood.
Further, you would not need to repaint it every year since, as mentioned, it is coated with a specialized finishing that prevents the planks from fading.
When it comes to cleaning, a soft broom and a low-level pressure washer will work. Although most manufacturers do not highly recommend such a method as it may damage the coating.
- Fire- and scratch-resistant. Aluminum decking is fire-resistant as well. It is also not prone to scratches (and consequently it is pet friendly).
- Eco-friendly. Last but not least: Aluminum deck boards are environmentally friendly. The reason? They are recyclable. If you plan to remove or replace the boards with new ones, they will not sit long in landfills and will surely be recycled.
- Pricey. While aluminum deck boards are indeed sturdier and long-lasting compared to hardwood, they are also much more expensive. They can cost up to three times as much as PVC or composite decking, which I will explain further in the next section.
- Style. It is true that aluminum decking also comes in different styles and shades. But compared to wood, composite decking, or PVC, most aluminum decking manufacturers’ collections are not as expansive.
To put it plainly, the style options are limited.
While aluminum decking offers several perks, these benefits are not free. In other words, aluminum deck boards are pricier compared than hardwood, PVC, and composite decking.
On average, it will cost you around $25 to $35 per square foot. But that is for basic types of aluminum decking only. If you want quality deck boards, then it will cost you around $15 to $50.
Care and Maintenance
Another perk of aluminum deck boards is that they are easy to clean and maintain. As said, premium aluminum deck boards are pre-coated which means they will not need to be resealed every year. The coating also protects the planks from mold and rust as well.
Cleaning the planks is simple. A non-abrasive cleaner such as soap and a soft brush will do the trick. However, if you want to power wash it, it is highly recommended to use a hose as too much pressure can damage the coating.
But do take note that every manufacturer also gives a varying set of rules when it comes to pressure washing.
Should you switch to aluminum decking?
Based on the review, aluminum decking seems to be sturdier and have a longer lifespan than its peers. It is fire-resistant, scratch resistant, and is not prone to mold or mildew growth.
But the thing is, these benefits cost more. As such, the first thing you should consider is whether aluminum decking fits within your budget. As mentioned, aluminum deck boards are 30% to 70% higher in price compared to composite decking. And if your budget is lower than what aluminum decking demands, then it may be best to consider other types of deck boards.