This guide helps you understand the types of deck material that suits your home and budget. Find out what's best for your deck: cedar, redwood, Southern yellow pine or composites. Decking materials Popular soft wood; Pale in color, easy to work with; Resists rot & termites when treated for outdoor use.

treated or naturally weather- and insect-resistant, is what is traditionally thought of for deck materials. However, composite decking is making inroads into deck building. The initial cost is higher, but over time you can actually save money when compared to cleaning, refinishing and ultimately replacing wood deck boards.

The best looking deck often reflects some architectural elements from the house and uses them in the deck. The cost of composite decking varies from $2-$4 per linear foot of decking board. Common sizes for composite decking boards are 12', 16', 18' and some 24' lengths are available from certain manufacturers.

Coffee shops have billboard-size menus, paint comes in thousands of colors; even buying laundry detergent is challenging--Tide is available in something like 30 different varieties. A newer carbon-based, nonmetallic preservative is also available in a limited number of products, including Wolmanized L3 Outdoor Wood.

But of all of the available woods, learn which one is the best. PT wood in longer lengths (10' or greater) and wider widths (6' or greater) can work as an effective deck board, but with limitations. Because they get thrown outside after use, they achieve an interesting silvery-gray weathered patina.