Decks are infinitely practical but not all are attractive. One solution that landscape designers and deck builders use is to mix materials for a more dynamic look. Here’s how expert deck builders near me mix materials in the Bloomfield Hills and Farmington Hills, MI, areas to create gorgeous outdoor living spaces.
What are the deck materials that you can mix and match?
Traditional wood decks are built using redwood, teak, or a pressure-treated wood species (to make the deck last longer). Redwood and teak are durable and long-lasting, though not as much as pressure-treated wood. All wood is subject to weathering. A wood deck will need to be sealed every one to three years depending on water and sun exposure. While it’s considered the least expensive option it is also arguably the most character-filled and you have to weigh the shorter lifespan against the wood’s natural beauty.
A composite deck is built with both pressure-treated wood and a composite decking material which is made using wood fibers, plastic, and various additives to create an incredibly strong and long-lasting material. It’s ideal for wet areas such as around a hot tub or outdoor kitchen. Pressure treated wood is used for the structural elements of the deck (posts and floor joists) and the deck is topped off with a composite material that will mean much less maintenance than a purely wood deck.
Mixing materials makes a deck more interesting, but it can also make it more practical. Let’s look at the functional side of mixed-materials decks first.
1. Definition of Space
Much like area rugs, different deck materials can define a space. Some spaces where you can create “outdoor area rugs” using different materials include the floor of an outdoor kitchen, under the dining table, or in the seating area.
Some decks feature one or two step elevation changes. For people whose eyesight isn’t great, this can be a real challenge because it’s hard to see steps that are the same color as the rest of the space. Using different (contrasting) materials on steps will make them easier to see, and therefore safer.
Using a composite material in wet areas can significantly extend the lifespan of your deck, while still giving you the unique character and charm of natural wood. Even though teak and redwood are durable wood species that are commonly used around hot tubs, you’ll still need to seal them often. So, if you prefer an easy-keeping deck, consider using a composite material where it will see the most wear and tear.
All-wood decks, whether you choose redwood, teak, or pressure-treated wood, are much cheaper than composite decks. The tradeoff to this initially lower cost is a higher cost of upkeep, and the need for replacement in about a decade.
Cost-wise, composite decks can be significantly more expensive upfront than pressure-treated wood, but it’s often a more cost-effective solution in the long term since composite decks can last 20-25 years.
The aesthetic implications of mixed-materials decks is where the fun really starts. You may have seen paver patios that feature contrasting borders and accents. You can do the same on your deck. Inlays are a fun way to express creativity. Typically, designers may use one material in two different colors for artistic purposes—otherwise, you may have to maintain one section of your deck more than the rest.