Wood and concrete are both common materials for patios, decks and other outdoor recreational surfaces. Wood decks are flexible in terms of design and provide a comfortable surface, but they require significant maintenance. Concrete surfaces are relatively easy to maintain, but their rigidity makes them harder on the feet and less accommodating to innovative design.
Wood Deck Materials
Lumber treated with a chemical preservative is the most popular material for wood decks. Pressure-treated lumber is generally a soft wood such as yellow pine, and it is resistant to rot and insect damage, and it is much more durable than untreated wood. Other alternatives for wood decking include species that are naturally resistant to wear and decay, such as cedar and redwood. These woods hold up well to exposure to weather, but in most cases sealing is required to maximize the life of the deck.
Options for concrete patio and deck surfaces range from simple, unadorned poured concrete to complex finishes that mimic other materials. Concrete can be stained or otherwise colored to give it visual interest or to emulate stone, and it can be stamped to give it the appearance of cobblestone, flagstone or other surfaces. Concrete pavers can give a patio the look of stone or tile. These options can be combined to create complex textures or patterns.
Advantages of Wood
Wood decks are versatile compared to concrete and other hard-surface patios. Wood deck designs can easily incorporate elevated surfaces and multiple levels, while concrete decks require significant landscape alterations in order to achieve anything other than a simple level surface at ground level. Wood decks also have the advantage of providing a softer, more forgiving surface, and they can be designed to be architecturally harmonious with the wooden structures around them.
Advantages of Concrete
Concrete has several advantages over wood decking, many of them in the area of maintenance. Wood decks require periodic staining or sealing to reduce deterioration and prolong the life of the deck, while concrete patios are relatively maintenance free. Concrete is not susceptible to rot or insect damage. Concrete has an environmental advantage as well, not only because the chemicals used to treat and maintain wood decking have an environmental impact, but because the harvesting of lumber for deck material is not environmentally friendly.
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