When the weather is beautiful, we all love to gather on the deck or patio to soak up the sunshine and enjoy the fresh air. But when the fun is over and it’s time to go inside, our decks and patios stay behind – through rain, sleet, snow, and anything else our Iowa climate decides to throw at it. A deck made from weaker materials will need consistent maintenance to look its best. That’s why, when building a deck, we recommend using high-performance materials that will end up saving tons of time and money down the road.
How “Maintenance-Free” is a Maintenance-Free Deck?
A maintenance-free deck isn’t going to clean up the dishes and lawn toys for us, but it will serve us well by standing up to the elements. Unlike treated lumber or cedar lumber, which is susceptible to mold and insects, and requires frequent re-staining, “maintenance free” decking requires very little upkeep in comparison. Maintenance-free decking options should all stand up to inclement weather, need no staining, and should be easy to clean with a pressure washer or hose on those days when the dog or kids cross paths with a mud puddle.
Maintenance-Free Deck Materials:
There are lots of decking materials out there, and while many have lots of low-maintenance perks, there are a few drawbacks to consider when choosing the material for our outdoor spaces.
Composite Decking is a lower-maintenance material than treated wood, but it’s certainly not maintenance-free. Composite is a blend of wood fiber and plastic, which reinforces the wood to stand up to the elements for longer. However, because the material still contains natural fibers, it will eventually show its age and begin to crack, cup, and develop mold issues. We should always go with high-quality composite decking if we take this route, as we truly get what we pay for in terms of color, appearance, and durability.
PVC Decking is another option that has gained enormous popularity recently as more and more folks have taken interest in vinyl plank flooring. Vinyl has a lot of benefits; it requires no staining or painting, it’s durable for high-traffic areas, and it’s very water-resistant. However, vinyl decking is a much better choice for covered decks than open patios, as it can be temperamental in extreme temperatures! Because vinyl is made from polyvinyl chloride, which is a plastic, it can warp and melt in extreme heat and can burn bare feet on hot days, so keeping it out of the sun is best.
IPE or Teak Wood is a high-end natural wood product. This material is ultra-dense and can last for 25 years, but looks just like regular treated wood. This option is perfect for those who like the look of natural wood decking and don’t mind investing in high-quality, durable materials.
If you have an outside space that does not need to be elevated with a deck, building a low-maintenance patio is a great way to use your outdoor space. The new paver and natural stone options available today are virtually maintenance-free. Many of our material providers offer lifetime warranties on the pavers themselves, which allows you to invest in your outdoor space with peace of mind. From time to time, the joints between the stones will need to be re-sanded to look their best. Generally, the smaller the paver joint, the less the joint will need to be re-sanded. Joints can now last over 10 years when properly installed by our experienced landscaping teams.
Maintenance-Free Deck Design Tips:
Once your custom deck or patio is built and looking great, a truly maintenance-free deck will need some maintenance-free finishing touches to make it look its best.
Try outdoor furniture made from recycled plastics. These environmentally-friendly materials are easy-to-clean and are available in finishes that mimic the look of wood.
Add tall planters in coordinating colors to bring life to your deck design.
Complete the design with outdoor cushions and lighting. Bistro string lights offer beautiful, warm light to evening soirees and outdoor cushions make the space feel comfortable and inviting.
If completing your design is fuelled more by stress than inspiration, never hesitate to ask your landscape designers. As experts in our fields, we pride ourselves on creating cohesive looks for your design, start to finish, and we’d be happy to help you select winning options to tie everything together.
Designing and building a patio or deck is a big step, but the result is an outdoor space to enjoy for years to come. For those of us with busy lives and big families, a low-maintenance deck or patio guarantees all the pleasures of outdoor living without the hassles. That means less stress, and more time to focus on making memories together.