5 Decking Materials – costs, benefits and life-span

Wooden Rooftop Deck and Porch

Considering building a new deck for your next exterior remodeling project?

What are the first steps and the material options to consider?


Location – where is best suited to install a deck/patio? Whether it’s in your backyard, rooftop or multi-level building, will entail the best spot to build a deck.  Does your home have outdoor access via a porch or exterior door?  These questions will help determine the style that best fits your space.


Backyard and connects to building.


Multi-level deck for 3-flat bulding


Rooftop – privacy and space.








Functionality – decks with built-in bench seating, outdoor bars, outdoor kitchens with bbq areas, even fire-resistant areas designed for a fire-pit built into the deck are all options that families in Chicagoland enjoy.  The same part of the yard that once required regular mowing/weeding/raking can be the home to your family’s new outdoor living area.


Built-in Fireplace area.


Large, spacious backyard deck.


Entertainment Bar w/ BBQ setup.








Budget – building a new deck is an exterior remodeling project that will increase property value and has a high R.O.I. (return on investment). Your budget for a new outdoor area will ultimately guide your choice of material, the size and functionality of your deck.  The decking material will the biggest price factor when installing a new deck and here are the 5 Decking Materials to choose from.

1. Pressured Treated Wood

deck material option #1

Deck-woodenThis economical wooden decking is typically made from pine and is widely available.  It is the most economical and least expensive out of decking materials with a lifespan in the average of 15 years but with proper maintenance can last decades.  Proper maintenance can average in annual costs of $450.

Plan to spend around $2 to $4 per square foot for pressure-treated wood such as Southern yellow pine and around $4 to $6 per square foot for high-end wood such as cedar and redwood.  (material costs cited by epa.gov)

Pressured Treated Wood is the most common decking choice, wood is natural, strong, easy to install and feels good under bare feet. But it also requires an annual cleaning and can rot, splinter, and warp. Even though all wood naturally weathers to a gray color, it should be cleaned and re-stained every two to three years to keep it looking its best and aging gracefully.



2. Composite Decking – plastic and wood fibers

Composite decking material used in Chicago's Wicker Park

trex-vs-woodThis material is designed to minimize fading and molding. It is the middle of the price range, comparable in costs to cedar and redwood and last about 25 years.  There is no cost of maintenance for this material.

Material and installation cost can range from $4 to $6 a square foot, with an average of $9 for Composite Decking.  (material costs cited by epa.gov)

Composite deck boards are generally pressed with a pattern or a wood grain and come in a wide range of shades and colors. This decking is low maintenance (no need to weather-proof or paint) and slip resistant.  Polyethylene plastic and wood fiber deck boards are made up of half wood fibers, like sawdust, and half recycled polyethylene plastic.


3. Plastic Lumber – HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)
plastic-deck-materialThis material is easiest to install with most manufacturers offering 50-year warranties on HDPE material that last about 30 years.  There is no cost of maintenance for this material.

Material and installation cost can range from $5 to $9 a square foot, with an average of $7 for Recycled HDPE Plastic decking.  (material costs cited by epa.gov)

This wood free option promises not to stain or fade and is waterproof. It is also splinter-free and low maintenance, needing only to be cleaned periodically.  The look-n-feel of plastic lumber is not like wood. Additionally, plastic lumber decks tend to squeak when they are walked on and can get very hot when there is hot sun beating on the plastic. Plastic decking is more expensive than traditional wood plastic composite decking but comparable to premium composite decking materials.


4. Aluminum/Steel


Aluminum decking material


Steel decking material used to build deck/staircase, Chicago’s 3-flat building.

Aluminum decking is the most expensive out of the deck material and will last the longest with a lifespan of 30+ years.  Steel decking can have a lifespan of 60+ years when correctly installed by professional builder.  Steel does need to be cared for with a basic maintenance cycle of routine desalting and touched up with a periodic protective coating.

123 Remodeling built this steel decking/staircase for a 3-flat building on the Northside of Chicago, it’s durability, safety and fire resistance are a few reason to invest in steel decking material.


5. Concrete/Stone


Stone and grouted patio material.


Concrete patio/staircase built in Harwood Height’s single-family home.

This is the most expensive while being the most durable decking material out of the 5 that we have discussed.  The lifespan, depending on the craftsmanship and environment conditions, a concrete patio can last a property owner up to a person’s lifetime – 70+ years.

Material costs can vary depending on stone or concrete, best way is to contact 123 Remodeling for a specific amount, describing the exact material and decking/patio area.

Concrete and stone patios are mainly for ground-level areas in which the surface area is smaller and is great to blend in the home’s aesthetics and raise property value.  123 Remodeling builds concrete patio with staircases for entry ways for residential and commercial properties.



Installing a deck will instantly raise the value of  your home while providing extra living space on your property for private gatherings, an area to entertain and an area aesthetically pleasing way to raise the curb appeal of your home.

Decks and patios offer a great way to enjoy the outdoors, make use of a backyard and reduce maintenance cost for landscaping.  Customizing the area to suit your needs starts with assessing the area or location, desired functionality and monetary budget.  Today, there are 5 different decking materials to consider, one that will best fit a person’s needs and desires.

123 Remodeling services Chicago ‘s residential and commercial property owners from bathroom remodeling, kitchen remodeling, basement remodeling, interior and exterior projects in and the surrounding suburbs with an “A+ Rating” by the BBB since 2007.  Proudly serving Chicago’s North Shore suburbs, Lincolnwood, Skokie, Evanston, Niles, Park Ridge, Morton Grove, Glenview, Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe, Northbrook, Deerfield, Highland Park.

Contact 123 Remodeling at 773-685-6095 to consult one of our experienced exterior remodeling experts to imagine, design and build your brand new deck or patio today!!

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