All month long, Dunn Lumber's Jim Coshow and Todd Dermody will be offering insight and resources to help you build the best deck for your home. Check out Part 1: PlanningPart 3: Building, and Part 4: Maintaining.

Last week we shared some ideas and questions to help you plan for the right deck, and next week we're going to talk about framing and the substructure of a deck. Since most people think about the walking surface first, we're going to focus this post on the various kinds of decking surfaces and other accessories available for your outdoor living space.

Whether you want your decking to blend into its surroundings or be the first thing people see and admire, our decking specialists will help you choose the deck surface that fits your home and lifestyle. If you have any questions, visit one of our nine Seattle-area locations, or schedule an appointment to speak with a Dunn Lumber decking specialist.  

Wood decking

Wood decking is a traditional option with choices that include tight-knot and clear grades of cedar, modified softwoods, and luxurious hardwoods. We have a variety of wood decking options that vary in cost and maintenance requirements. 

Cedar: Cedar decking surfaces can last 25+ years with proper care. 5/4x4 tight-knot western red cedar is a popular option, and among the least expensive decking boards available. It's also a beautiful wood that is easy to work with. 

Softwood: Modified softwoods such as Thermory offer a durable, stable, rot-resistant board, which requires no maintenance beyond normal cleaning if you are comfortable letting it weather to its natural gray color.

Hardwood: A popular choice for decking, rot-resistant hardwood lumber species can retain their original look with regular cleaning and refinishing, or can be allowed to weather and turn gray. These gorgeous decking choices generally require more labor during installation compared to a softwood (such as cedar). The wood is harder to cut and generally requires pre-drilling for the screws that fasten it down. 

Thermally modified bamboo: Bamboo is frequently categorized as a hardwood, though it is technically a grass. Bamboo manufacturing has come a long way in recent years, making products such as dassoXTR a great option to consider for a deck surface. The modification process creates a very stable board with a surface hardness that will rival just about any other choice on the market. Bamboo is environmentally friendly and comes in 6’ lengths, which makes for easy handling and storage. DassoXTR can be maintained with a proper finish to keep its original brown color, or given an annual cleaning which will allow the bamboo to weather to a natural gray.

wood decking

Manufactured decking

Formed from recycled and/or new materials, manufactured decking is resistant to scratches, stains, and weathering—and comes in lengths up to twenty feet. Some manufactured decking is available with grooves cut into the edges, which are designed for hidden fastener systems. (More on that in our fastener section below.) Of course, the real advantage of manufactured decking products is that they never need an application of a protective coating or sealant.

Capped composite: Capped-composite deck boards are more resistant to fading and scratches. These products are very durable and stand up to cleaning and normal use better than older, true composite decking because of their hard exterior cap (or shell). 

PVC: PVC is a wood-alternative decking surface that’s easy to install thanks to its lightweight and compatibility with a broad variety of fastening options. PVC decking excels in its durability, scratch, stain, and fade resistance, and comes with a warranty (up to 30 years!). 

manufactured decking materials

Deck fasteners

You can secure your deck boards in a variety of different ways depending on your desired look and budget.

Screws designed especially for deck boards are available in colors to match virtually any surface—so the screw heads will blend in. (You can also pick a contrasting, complementary deck screw color to achieve a unique look.)

Cortex plugs are an ingenious way to face-fasten a deck board with screws that won't show. This means screw heads disappear under a plug that’s the same color as your decking.

•Some hidden fastening systems allow you to secure your deck boards with screws driven at an angle through the edge of the deck boards. This method is mostly used with wood decking products and square shoulder (non-grooved) PVC deck boards. This method should NOT be used with composite or capped-composite decking products.

•Hidden fastener systems use clips to join the sides of the boards together so that nothing shows on the deck's surface. The result is a clean look with virtually no visible hardware because the boards are not face-screwed. Various brands and designs are available, and generally use a grooved deck board that accepts a clip.  

Railings, lighting, and other deck accessories

Don't just build your deck—make it yours by adding railings, lighting, and other accessories. 

Railings and balusters: Add railings if your deck is more than 30 inches off the ground. Railings provide safety, add functionality, and offer a complete, finished look to your deck. There are a wide variety of railings and infill materials available to help complete your outdoor living space—including wood, composite, metal, glass, and wire grid.

  • Wood railings give decks a natural look that will complement your surroundings in the Pacific Northwest. 
  • Composite deck railings offer a classic look that evokes a New England craftsman–inspired style marked by large, wide posts. 
  • Metal railings offer a sturdy, durable solution with a slim, contemporary appearance and low maintenance. 
  • Glass panels between railing posts give your deck a modern look and eliminate balusters that can obstruct your view.
  • Wire grid railings are a great low-maintenance option that provide a modern and minimalistic appearance.

When it comes to balusters, select ones that match your style. Balusters are available in stainless steel cable, simple or decorative metal, and traditional options such as cedar two-by-twos. Older deck rails can be upgraded with glass or aluminum balusters for an affordable new look

Lighting: Lighting is a visually pleasing accessory which pairs well on railings, stair risers, or bench seats. Light up your deck and surrounding backyard with lighting systems such as step, sconce, and recessed lights, railing lights, post cap lights, button lights, and more. Low-voltage lighting illuminates your deck and allows you to enjoy your outdoor living space safely at night. Most deck lighting systems are LED, so they require little electricity and you rarely have to change the bulb. 

Benches: Benches are a great way to make your outdoor living space more inviting. The area below a bench can be used for built-in storage to keep cushions or barbecue equipment dry and protected. Keep children in mind if you design a bench along the outside edge of your deck since children often like to climb.  

Weather Protection: Skylift Roof Riser hardware allows you to more easily create a roof cover for your outdoor living space, providing lots of natural light, airflow, and unobstructed views from adjacent rooms. You can also add drainage systems that keep the space under your deck dry and useable for storage or outdoor living space. Keep your under-deck area dry with a system like RainEscape or DrySpace.

PVC decking showroom

Other finishing ideas

Installing a planting bed, potted plants, or a boxwood hedge along the perimeter of a low deck is an inexpensive way to establish a natural boundary. Plants and decorative boxes also add color to your outdoor living space and can be repositioned easily.  

Visit a decking showroom at one of our nine Seattle-area locations. A Dunn Lumber team member will be happy to help you find the right decking options for your home.

Visit Your Local Dunn Lumber Decking Showroom

This series walks through the process of planning, building, and maintaining your deck, to help get your outdoor living space ready for the gorgeous summer weather we have here in the Pacific Northwest. Stay tuned for more tips and resources to help make your next decking project a success.