Aluminum vs. Composite Decks

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Aluminum and composite comprise two of the best fire-rated decking materials for homeowners, but what does each material have as an advantage over the other?

Some contractors might say that aluminum is better than composite or even other materials for that matter. However, you should expect to spend more on building an aluminum deck. For instance, the average cost of anodized aluminum decks ranges from $6 per square foot and $15 per square foot. Composite decks cost between $4 per square foot and $13 per square foot. The actual price will vary based on the size of your deck and where you live in the U.S.

All About Aluminum

While aluminum is more expensive, you shouldn’t decide against using it for your deck right away. Anodized aluminum can be a good fit if you have a modern-style house, especially for destination homes except for beachfront properties. The salty air can destroy the material, so you should consider other materials. Composite won’t be a good choice either since prolonged exposure to the sun can fade the material.

Aluminum’s lifespan, however, serves as its main advantage over composite aside from requiring little maintenance. Decks made of aluminum can last between 30 and 50 years with proper care and maintenance. On the other hand, the average lifespan of composite decks ranges from 10 to 25 years.

Pros and Cons of Composite

wooden deck

Composite is the obvious choice for homeowners with a limited budget. Since it quickly fades, you might need to find a shaded area before building a composite deck. The quality of the material will determine its fire-resistance. Wood composite is an example that has fire retardants, but it might not be a good choice if you live in an area with cold weather.

The fire retardants in composite wood decks can melt during low temperatures. Aluminum remains the best choice in this case for fire prevention. Consult a deck expert about composite boards with at least a Class C rating for fire resistance. Composite decks have different fire ratings. Ask a professional before choosing a material. Deck materials with Class A ratings are the best for keeping your home safe from accidental house fires.

Your Location Matters

Your location will be another factor to consider when deciding to use aluminum or composite. Homeowners in Florida shouldn’t use aluminum because of the salty air. Wood composite and PVC are the best materials for decks in the state, as well as in Washington and New Jersey.

In Arizona, residents should use wood composite instead of 100% PVC for their decks. Plastic materials aren’t recommended in Colorado, where wood composite is the best choice.

Choose aluminum if you live in an area where wildfires are more common, or you often have weekend grill parties. Decks are the frequent source of house fires due to windblown embers and combustible materials. Still undecided? Talk to a flooring specialist now to find the best option for your home. Some manufacturers also offer warranties for their products, so you should consider this when choosing between aluminum and composite decks.

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