Pros and Cons of Popular Deck and Patio Materials

Pros and Cons of Popular Deck and Patio Materials

One of the most common ways to turn your backyard into a more enjoyable area is to remodel or build a new patio or deck. When it comes to buying or selling a home, this is often one of the most important features to have in a backyard. Whether you are looking to create that “wow” factor when selling, or just want a nice place to sit and relax after a long day at work, having a backyard oasis designed for your living style is one of the best ways to do it.

If you’re starting from scratch, a common question to ask is which material is best for your project? Although it may seem like an easy decision at first, choosing the right option with all the choices we have now, can be confusing.

Whether you are familiar with these materials or not, it is worth doing a little research to make sure that you choose the deck and patio material that is designed to not only look great, but to function well and last as long as possible.

Hardscape and Softscape

Before we discuss popular deck and patio materials, it’s important we’re on the same page when it comes to what makes up your landscape. The two main elements are called softscape and hardscape.

Softscape includes the living things (grass, plants, flowers, trees) in your landscape. Hardscape is the hard movable parts of your landscape. It include stones, gravel, paving, water features, decks, patios, and more.

When selecting the right materials for your project, keep these in mind so you can work them into your deck or patio design as needed.

Now that we’re on the same page, let’s discuss the pros and cons of the most popular landscape materials to use for decks and patios.

Deck Materials

Materials you can purchase to build a deck vary in terms of how they look, how much they cost, and how long they’ll last. Review the following materials. Once you get to know the different materials, you’ll have a better idea of what to purchase based on your personal taste and your project’s budget. And remember it’s always a good idea to contact an expert before making a final decision.

Natural Wooden Planks

According to Wikipedia, wood is the porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the stems and roots of trees and other woody plants. Wood has been used in construction for more than 10,000. So, if you want something tried and true, natural wood is your best bet. Plus, it’s also rustic-looking and the softwoods are inexpensive. The downside is wood needs to be maintained or it will get damaged.

ProsCons
Looks rusticNeeds maintenance or will crack
Softwoods are inexpensiveHardwoods are expensive

Composite

Composite deck boards are comprised of plastic and wood particles. It’s seen the most growth in residential decks lately. On the plus side, it’s environmentally friendly, comes in a wide array of different colors, and unlike wood is low maintenance! However, it will age and eventually decay. And some people say it looks fake.

ProsCons
Low maintenanceWill age and decay
Various colorsCan appear fake-looking

Aluminum

Some people say aluminum is the best material for decks. It stays cool no matter the temperature; the color will last forever; it won’t splinter, bend, or rot; and it’s both lighter and stronger than traditional materials. So what’s the catch, it’s  by far the most expensive.

ProsCons
Color lasts foreverMost expensive
Won’t splinter, bend, or rotDoesn’t look like wood

Patio Materials

Similar to your deck, there are a variety of materials you can use to build your patio. Once again, do your research and pick the material that works best for you and your situation. You should also work with a contractor before making any final decisions about your materials.

Concrete

Concrete is a very popular option, largely because it is one of the least expensive ways to quickly build a patio. In addition to being a very low cost option, there are also many benefits to choosing concrete for your patio. When it comes to durability, concrete has a very good track record. You don’t have to worry about filling the cracks with sand, and it is sure to last for a long time.

Stamped concrete is concrete that uses textures and patterns to imitate wood, slate, tile, and more. The good news is that it’s low maintenance and durable. The bad news: it’s susceptible to cracking and will eventually fade.

ProsCons
Low maintenanceEventually will fade
DurableMay crack

Brick

Brick is a traditional option. It’s installed two ways: 1) by putting the brick on top of a thick gravel and sand layer without anything to secure the bricks together except compacted sand in between the individual brick or 2) by installing bricks on a concrete slab and bonding them together with grout or mortar, which makes it solid. Brick tends not to fade and is durable. But only comes in certain styles and colors.

ProsCons
Withstands fadingOnly certain styles and colors
DurableMoss may grow

Pavers

Pavers come in a variety of different shapes and colors and provide one of the most versatile options for your patio project. One of the reasons why pavers are so popular is that they are available in such a wide variety of colors and shapes and can be used to create beautiful patterns.

ProsCons
DurableExpensive
Low maintenanceProne to Weed Growth

Flagstone

Flagstone is popular because of the natural, earthy look that it provides. Some of the most common varieties include limestone, slate, and sandstone. In addition to this appealing look, flagstone is very durable as well as permeable. But flagstones are heavy and rather difficult to work with and are subject to erosion and splitting. If you want the colorful appeal of flagstone, consult an expert to ensure your patio design prioritizes adequate drainage.

ProsCons
DurableMore difficult to install properly
Distinctive lookExpensive

Natural Stone

Like wood for your deck, natural stone is the tried and true option. It’s been around forever. Bluestone, granite, and marble are some examples of natural stone. It boasts the highest durability and has a wide array of variety and color. The downfall is that it’s the most expensive option.

ProsCons
Highest durabilityMost expensive
Wide array of variety and color

Now that you know a few of your options and their pros versus cons, you should be in a good position to make a choice based on your preferences and budget!