When anybody thinks of any kind of deck, they usually think of two things. They usually think of wooden decks, which require all kinds of maintenance that can take forever, or plastic composite decking, which requires far less maintenance but can look like an imitation of wooden decks at best and a completely inorganic copy of wooden decks at worst.
Wooden decks have existed since the concept of the deck was introduced, and plastic composite decking has existed since they were introduced into homes, parks, and establishments since the 1990s. These two forms of decking were considered not only the industry standard for decking but the only real forms of decking for a very long time.
Though, as decking materials, practices, and blueprints continue to evolve, newer forms of decking materials are emerging. Enter aluminum decking. Aluminum decking is one of the newest forms of decks today, and they promise a lot of potential in the future.
However, aluminum decking is not perfect, and there exist some things about it that take away from the value of a deck in general. These good and bad aspects of aluminum decking deserve to be explored, as they are becoming more and more relevant in this day and age.
What is aluminum decking and how did it come to be?
Before exploring the good or bad aspects of aluminum decking, it is very important to know exactly what it is as well as its history. Knowing these things will allow you to detect these pros and cons as well as make quality comparisons between aluminum decking and other kinds of decking materials. Aluminum decking uses more than just aluminum as a surface. Wood still makes up most of the base of the deck, but aluminum planks are fitted over this surface to make it more durable and less prone to damage from water and other elements.
A true sign of the future of decking, the first aluminum decks were built shortly after composite plastic decks were being built in the 1990s. By the 2000s, many public establishments began replacing their wooden decking with aluminum decking because of how much longer they last and how much more durable they are. This discovery caused a spike in the demand of aluminum decking materials. Soon, hardware retailers began selling aluminum decking related materials and services right alongside materials and services that entailed their wooden and composite plastic counterparts.
Today, aluminum decking is just as common as wooden decking and composite plastic decking. This is why it is very important to measure the pros and cons of aluminum decking. It is also useful to explore the pros and cons of aluminum decking because they are still new and hyped to where the positive aspects of aluminum decking are mentioned a lot more than the negative aspects, if the negative aspects are mentioned at all. The recent hype surrounding aluminum decking has described it as the optimal form of decking that has a decisive amount of value over any other kinds of decking.
However, it is always a good idea to be as objective as possible, and that is why it is necessary to remove the hype surrounding aluminum decking for a few moments and objectively explore what makes aluminum decking so fantastic and what could be improved upon.
What are the best aspects of aluminum decking?
Like almost any new development on an old design, aluminum decking is designed to make vast improvements on their wooden or composite plastic counterparts. And aluminum decking does a very good job of improving upon a lot of the things that are troublesome about wooden or even composite plastic decks.
First, they are much, much easier to maintain than any wood or composite plastic decks. Wood decks need to be maintained constantly or else the surface will warp or break down in some other aspect. Composite plastic decking doesn’t warp, deteriorate, or break down, but it has a surface that can be scratched and scraped a lot easier than wood decks.
So while composite plastic decking doesn’t need a lot of maintenance like wood decks do, they’ll likely need to be replaced at the same kind of rates as wooden decks because of how sensitive to scratches they are. Aluminum decking doesn’t face either of these two issues. It is truly a form of decking where you can “set it and forget it” when it comes to maintenance. The only thing you’ll need to do to maintain aluminum decking is clean it. Take the reinforced surface of a composite plastic deck and make it resistant to scratches and other kinds of impacts that might negatively affect a composite plastic deck and you have the surface of an aluminum deck. This makes aluminum decks many times more durable than wood or even composite plastic. You will not need to worry about the deck burning or any other kind of damage caused by any other kinds of extreme temperatures.
If anybody wants to argue that aluminum decking is superior to wood or composite plastic decking in terms of aesthetics, ease of maintenance, and durability, they would be right. Aluminum decking is indeed much more valuable in terms of these three categories. But decks that are this impressive come at a cost. And this is where criticisms of aluminum decking emerge.
The massive cost of aluminum decking
The difference between aluminum decking and its wood and plastic composite counterparts is in the overall cost of receiving the materials as well as installing the materials. If you have a background in carpentry and are creative enough to make use of the thousands of tutorials on constructing a wooden deck, you can build your own wooden deck, saving you all kinds of money on installation costs.
While this is not possible with composite plastic decking, you have a very large draw of materials that can be used in composite plastic decking and you can save money from that angle. If you are interested in getting aluminum decking, you will need to prepare to spend a lot of money. You cannot build your own aluminum decks like you can with wood decks. And unlike plastic composite decks, you do not have the lion’s share of different materials to choose from to make the materials cost effective. Aluminum decks require expert installation that utilizes processes that are specific to them. This means that installing an aluminum deck requires a much larger budget than any other kind of deck.
Materials for a wood deck are so available that you can literally run over to your local Lowe’s or Home Depot right now, buy them, take them home, and either put the deck together yourself or hire somebody to put it together for you. Because there are many different materials that can be used in a composite plastic deck, they are also easy to acquire even though they may not be able to be purchased locally. This is not true for aluminum decking. It can be very difficult to find proper materials for aluminum decking because the materials are not as simple in their design or function as wood or composite plastic.
Another thing about aluminum decking is that it is limited in their color scheme as well, typically only being available in white, gray, or tan colors only. When you have made the decision to get aluminum decking, you have made the decision to spend a lot of money on a deck that places function over aesthetics.
There is plenty to like when it comes to aluminum decking. Anybody who gets frustrated with the constant cleaning and maintenance that comes with wood decking has a lot to gain if they switch to an aluminum deck. Aluminum decks are much, much easier to maintain than wood decks. All you’ll need to do to maintain or clean an aluminum deck is hose it down. There is no need to resurface it or apply any kind of special substances to clean any aluminum deck. You’ll love aluminum decking if you are tired of having to replace parts of your composite plastic decking every time something scrapes it or something. Aluminum decking is so durable that you will not need to worry about it scraping, warping, degrading, or anything like that.
However, keep in mind that aluminum decking is very expensive: The materials cost a lot of money and have limited availability, and because of how these materials are put together, it is impossible to put aluminum decking together yourself. You’ll need to get aluminum decking installed by somebody else, which is another expensive endeavor. Aluminum decking is still a new development, and it is still very much embellished in the kind of value it provides. It has its benefits and drawbacks, and now that you know what these are, you should be able to make an educated decision as to whether aluminum decking is proper for you.