Guide: Questions To Ask When Choosing Deck Boards

A Guide To The Big Questions You Should Ask Before Choosing Deck Boards

When you’re planning a deck renovation or a new deck build, the huge range of deck board options is a double-edged sword: with so many decking choices, there’s a perfect board out there to bring your deck vision to life. But the sea of decking options can be paralyzing.

That’s why DecksDirect exists. Deck projects shouldn’t be overwhelming or stressful. But you also shouldn’t be funneled to the same two or three standard deck board options you’ll find at your local lumberyard or big-box store.

The warm reds of Trex Transcend's Lava Rock color makes white railing pop

Picking the best deck boards starts with you: your vision and goals for your upgraded deck. We believe in asking lots of questions until we can fully understand and share your vision. Then, we sort through our selection of low-maintenance, high-quality deck boards - the largest selection in the industry - and guide you to the decking options that best deliver on your vision and goals.

To get started, check out our big-picture questions below. Once you start dialing in your deck vision, give us a call at 1-888-824-5316 and our team will take it from there, gathering more specifics about your ideal deck to help build the perfect deck project to match.

Table of Contents

Defining Your Deck Goals

When planning a deck, the most important thing is to dream - and not just a hazy, general dream. Dream about your deck in exquisite detail, including the who, the what, the where, and most of all, the why.

Once you can see every detail of the deck you want, choosing the right deck boards is a breeze.

What Will You Do On Your Deck?

Decks are amazing and versatile. What will you do with yours? 

Do you want a quiet, cozy hangout where you can curl up with a hot coffee and a good book? A spacious, sparkling entertaining space to host friends and family? An informal space to sit down with a close friend and a glass of wine?

A well-planned deck is an amazing space to enjoy a game of beanbag toss with family and friends

Who Will Use Your Deck?

First and foremost, your deck creates space to make memories with the people you love. That’s why we plan deck projects with those people in mind.

When you picture your ideal deck, who are you enjoying it with? Family? Friends? Kids? Pets?

What Do You Want Your Deck To Look Like?

The look and style of your deck will dramatically affect how you use it - and how you feel when you’re on it. You might not have a specific deck board color in mind - we’ll get there. For now, just think about styles. Do you picture a sleek, modern space? A classic, traditional vibe? A contemporary, on-trend look?

Mixing two decking colors, like these two Deckorators shades, creates a gorgeous contrast

What Furniture Will Be On Your Deck?

Deck furniture allows you and your guests to enjoy the comforts of the indoors while you take in the natural beauty of the outdoors. It’s important to consider your furniture when you plan your deck, so the size, layout, material, and style of your deck mesh with the pieces you plan to put on it.

Mocha TimberTech decking matches trendy furniture and complements a bright green yard

What Else Will Be On Your Deck?

Are you the neighborhood grill master? We’ll plan your deck with a dedicated grilling space in mind. Are you picturing lush, green plants or bright, cheery flowers? You can set up your deck to accommodate planters, pots, or beds. 

Don’t be afraid to think big. A pergola or shade structure? A firepit? A hot tub? You can design your deck to do more than you’d think. Dreaming is the first step. Then our project planning team can help you learn what you need to make the dream a reality.

Dream big: your modern dream deck could include a firepit or hot tub

Choosing Your Decking

Now that you’re seeing your future deck in detail, let’s start zeroing in on the perfect deck boards for you. DecksDirect carries dozens of unique deck board options, and we’ve verified that each and every one of them is a premium, high-quality option that will last for years to come. Let our team of project planners narrow down our selection to give you the options that fit your detailed vision. 

Read on to learn more, or give our team a call at 1-888-824-5316 for personalized project planning guidance. 

First Things First: Don’t Compromise on Low-Maintenance

The first piece of advice we’ll give you is to plan your deck with a long-term perspective. We hope you’ll be enjoying your deck every day for decades to come. That’s why we believe so strongly in selling only high-quality, low-maintenance decking materials.

Pressure-treated wood decking can offer short-term savings with a lower initial price-point than modern alternatives like composite decking or PVC decking. But those costs offset incredibly quickly when you factor in yearly staining, maintenance, and eventually, board replacements as your wood deck weathers and fades. With composite decking or PVC boards, you’ll save hours and hours of yearly maintenance and get a deck that holds its strength and looks for decades, no matter how harsh your climate is. Click here to see a more in-depth comparison between composite decking and wood decking.

To learn more about the differences in decking materials like PVC, composite, and mineral-based composites, check out our Deck Materials Guide here.

Shop Decking By Material

Where Is Your Deck?

Let’s keep asking questions to start narrowing down our huge collection of low-maintenance decking options. Next up: location.

Where is your deck? An outdoor living space near a pool, lake, or ocean will benefit from different materials than a deck in a dry, arid climate. Let’s run through some of the best boards for a few common deck settings:

Best Deck Boards For Decks In Direct Sunlight

Does your deck get a lot of direct sunlight? Is your deck on the south-facing side of your house?

No matter the material (composite, wood, PVC), decking soaks up heat in direct sunlight - that can make it hot to walk on with bare feet, and can lead to fading colors. (PVC does tend to cool down quickest, though.)

If your deck is lucky enough to have direct sunlight, we’d recommend picking a light-colored decking. Just like wearing a black T-shirt on a sunny day, a dark deck board will absorb more heat than a light-colored one. And a light color, especially a light gray, won’t fade in the sun like a dark brown deck board might.

Gray Decking stays cooler in direct sunlight
Shop Gray Decking

Best Decking Material For Decks By Water

Are you upgrading or building a poolside deck? An oceanside oasis? Does your deck overlook a lake? Will it house a hot tub?

Anytime water is a major factor, PVC decking is a smart choice. PVC deck boards are entirely synthetic, with no natural wood fibers or organic material. That means they’ll be your most mold- and mildew-resistant option, resisting water damage and allowing you and your guests to head straight from the house to the beach without worrying about tracking water onto your decking.

TimberTech AZEK PVC decking makes an ideal lakeside deck
Shop PVC Decking

Best Decking Material For Wide-Ranging Climates

Does your local climate span a huge range of seasons and temperatures? Have hot summers and cold winters wreaked havoc on your splintering wood deck?

Mineral-based composite, sometimes called MBC, is the latest innovation in composite decking. Mineral-based boards are made of the highest-quality materials, and their biggest calling card is virtually no thermal expansion or contraction. That means your boards don’t change shape or size as temperatures fluctuate, preventing your fasteners from working free and keeping your boards from warping or splintering.

Deckorators mineral-based composite decking holds up exceptionally well in even tough weather
Call 1-888-824-5316 For Mineral-Based Composite Decking

What Color Is Your House?

Let’s talk colors. The best decks feel like an extension of your indoor living space. So what does your house look like? What color is your siding? How about your trim? Do you have distinctive colors in your shingles? How about your home’s interior decorations?

If your home is dominated by cool tones like blue or gray, you can tie your deck to your home’s appearance with a cool gray deck board. With warm siding tones like red or yellow, your deck will look smashing in a warmer brown or even a red deck board.

This TimberTech deck extends the modern styling of the home's interior to the outdoor space

What Colors Appear In Your Yard?

If decks are about tying the indoors and the outdoors, then it only makes sense to consider the colors in your yard and landscaping as well as in your home. Is your deck surrounded by leafy green plants or tall majestic trees? Do you have bright, cheery flowerbeds or earthy organic gardens? The cool blue hues of a lake or ocean? A tidy, manicured lawn or a rustic farmhouse setting?

Tying your decking to the colors in your yard creates a flowing, seamless deck that feels like a perfect blend of your indoor styling and the natural beauty around your space. Try rich browns to go with towering trees or soft, neutral shades to accent bright flowers or vibrant greenery.

Framing this deck in the cool blue of Trex Select's Winchester Gray ties the deck to the beautiful blue lake
Shop Decking By Color

What’s Your Style?

Maybe you’re not set on a color yet, but you know your style. We carry six premier decking brands, each with its own unique style. Here’s a quick guide to narrowing down the brands that fit your deck project.

Classic Traditional Looks With Trex

Trex is the #1 name in composite decking, and their classic styles are as tried-and-true as the brand itself. Trex deck boards are timeless, with beautiful wood looks that never go out of style. They match especially well with a traditional or rustic-looking home and yard.

Trex is the biggest name in low-maintenance decking, with proven styles that continue to stand the test of time
Shop Trex Decking

Modern, On-Trend Looks With TimberTech

TimberTech, on the other hand, is crisp and modern. TimberTech shades are trendy and stylish, blending especially well with modern or contemporary homes. The beauty of TimberTech is in the brand's wide range of choices, with composite and PVC offerings, a huge range of colors and styles, and even multi-width boards for trendy deck board patterns.

TimberTech's huge range of decking lines includes stylish PVC and composite options
Shop TimberTech Decking

Best Decking Brands

Beyond Trex and TimberTech, the two leading brands in the industry, there are several other manufacturers with their own unique features. 

Deckorators Decking specializes in incredibly high-quality boards - they pioneered the futuristic mineral-based composites. Fiberon is known for excellent value, honing efficient production processes to create top-quality boards at a high-value price. Envision is an affordable, versatile option, and Barrette is known for distinctive, unique looks, with deck boards that feature dramatic color shifts within the same board.

To learn more about the decking brands we carry, check out our Decking Brands Guide here.

Barrette decking, pictured in Brazilian Cherry, shows incredible color range within each board
Shop Decking By Brand

When it comes to decking, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Our team loves deck projects, and each of our expert project planners helps put together thousands of deck projects every year. What makes our jobs so great is that we get to help customers around the country plan amazing decks, and we love creating a unique, personalized plan that fits each customer’s specific needs.

If you’re planning a deck renovation or a new build, please let us be a part of your journey. Give us a call at 1-888-824-5316 and our team will make sure you don’t have to settle for anything less than the perfect deck for you and your family and friends.

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