What Is the Cheapest Material to Build a Deck With?

What Is the Cheapest Material to Build a Deck With?

It can be difficult to choose the right decking material for your project. Below is a table that compares key factors and highlights the most cost-effective decking options per square foot.

Pressure-Treated Decking

The most popular decking material in the USA and Canada is pressure-treated decking. To make the wood more resistant to insects, rot, and mold, chemicals are applied under pressure. This treatment increases the wood’s durability and longevity. The planks can be cut and installed in a variety of colors, including brownish or greenish tones. For 2″ decking, a perpendicular joist can span 24 inches OC. 5/4″ decking should span 16 inches OC.

You can enhance the decking with wood stains by adding character knots, checking and wood grain. If desired, it can be allowed to fade to grayish over time. You can also let it season for three to twelve weeks after installation. Then, stain, seal or paint it to match or blend with its surroundings.


Easy to install and affordable

Lasts for 15 years or longer, and can be maintained for longer.

Can be stained or painted

The look and feel of real wood grain

Solid and durable



Decking can be warped, split, checked, or fur.

Fasteners and brackets can be ruined by chemicals.

Stains require more maintenance than paint.

Chemical preservatives can cause health and environmental problems

2. Cedar Decking 5/4×6

Cedar decking is resistant to insects, decay, rot, and natural decay. Heartwood is more durable and denser than sapwood and can withstand harsher environmental conditions. It will eventually turn grayish-colored over time and lasts longer than wood that has been pressure treated.

It is important to seal it every 12-24 months to preserve its natural colors and highlights. To increase its durability and resistance to weathering, cedar can be stained or painted. Alternative to 5/4×6 decking is 2×4 and 2×6 cedar boards, which can be extended.


Rich coloring and attractive wood grain

Resistant to rot, mold, and mildew, as well as insects and moisture

Strong and long-lasting

Will last between 20 and 30 years depending on how well maintained.

Sustainable and environment-friendly

Natural solid wood at an affordable price



Softer and easier to scratch or dent

Requires annual maintenance

Shaded or near the ground, can cause rapid deterioration

3. 3/4″ plywood

Good-one-side plywood (G1S), is plywood that has been sanded on one side. This plywood is a popular choice for decking because of its affordability and ease of use. These 4×8 sheets can be cut quickly and don’t leave any gaps for fingers or toes or other objects to catch in. It helps to keep bugs and other insects out. Although plywood is most commonly used to build gazebos and sheltered decks, it can also be used to make exposed decks.

You can get it in exterior grade for as low as $2 per square foot or pressure-treated for an additional 10 to 20 cents per square foot. You can also paint or stain it to match any color scheme. This improves appearance and longevity. A stain may need to be reapplied every 12 to 36 months depending on how exposed it is to the elements, as well as its exposure to paws, claws, and feet. Quality paint can last up to 10 years.


Installation is quick and simple

Good coverage per sheet

Sturdy and durable

Wood grain look

It is easy to paint or stain.

No gaps between boards



Requires a repainting every 8-10 years.

The thickness of sheets between them can vary by up to 1/8″.

Lamination and bubbles can be caused by moisture

4. Composite decking

The manufacturer can offer a wide range of composite decking colors and tones. It is made from ground-up wood fiber, and recycled plastic, and has an embossed grain pattern and wood image overlay.

Composite planks that are budget-friendly can last between 10 and 15 years while premium boards can last for up to 30. Decking that is capped on three sides costs less than decking that is capped on four sides. It also doesn’t have as much durability or longevity as the better-quality boards. Prices, profiles, color options, and pricing vary between brands and product series.

Installation may require special fasteners or tools. Cuts must be treated to prevent moisture damage. It is necessary to maintain the planks’ appearance and prevent mildew.

The more affordable products have fewer color options. Also, scratching and denting is more difficult than in real wood. Planks also get hotter than solid wood in direct sunlight. They are also more slippery than real wood.


It looks like wood

Resistant against moisture, UV, scratches, and mold

There are many color options

There are no splinters or cracking and no insects

Low maintenance

It is easy to clean

Durable, long-lasting


It is denser and heavier than real wood.

Can’t be recycled

In 1 to 2 Months, the fade begins

Moisture can lead to mold, mildew, and rot.

High quality is expensive

Bamboo Decking

There are four types of bamboo decking, both with hollow core boards and solid. Laminate layers of long, solid bamboo lengths are used to make fused or solid bamboo. For a solid, stable board, the flattened lengths of bamboo are joined together using phenolic glue at high pressure.

These boards are made up of 90% bamboo and 10% glue. They are suitable for exterior use. These planks of strand-woven bamboo are often used indoors. These planks are made from chips or strands, bamboo glue, and heated to form planks.

Engineered bamboo boards are made from bamboo that has been cooked to remove sugars. The strips coated with phenolic epoxy resin are then compressed and heated to create beautiful, yet durable exterior-grade deck boards. Composite bamboo decking made from ground-up bamboo and recycled plastics is called capped composite. For greater protection, the mixture is extruded into strong boards with dense construction.

If not sealed or stained, bamboo decking will fade and become grayish in color. Many products are stronger than Ipe and denser than Ipe. Some products are made with tongue and groove ends. They are strong enough to be butted between joists. This reduces waste and cuts.


Strong and dense

It is easy to seal, stain or paint

Resistant to insects, mildew, mold, and rot

Sustainable and environmentally friendly

Realistic wood and grain colors

In warm, dry areas, sealing and staining are not required

Some can be recycled

Available in widths of 6″ and 8″, and lengths up to 16″.


It is possible to cause moisture damage

Some are not recyclable

In areas that are subject to heavy rain, snow, and cold, it is necessary to seal or stain the area.

Is Composite Decking Cheaper Than Wood?

Composite decking can be more expensive than cedar or pressure-treated decking, but it is less expensive than the hardwoods it imitates. Composite boards require less maintenance, such as annual sanding and staining. Composite boards are generally less expensive over the long term, and may even prove to be cheaper. Much depends on the quality and environmental conditions it is exposed to.

Composite decking at the lowest price

The cost of composite decking can vary from one brand to the next. Many manufacturers offer a line or grade that is budget-friendly, with limited color options and minimal grain imprinting.

To reduce material costs, the lower grades are often hollow-cored, grooved, or scalloped at the base. They may also be thinner, which can impact strength. They may not have a cap to protect them, or they may be only capped on the top and sides. This reduces manufacturing costs.

This article was written by a professional at JKI Industries. JKI Industries is one of the leading providers of construction services to the emerging residential and commercial construction industries throughout Florida and the Carolinas. With over 30 years of experience, JKI Industries continues to strive as a full-service construction contracting company and to provide top-notch results for various customers, whether commercial or residential, large, or small. We also offer Decks Docks and Seawalls In Fort Myers FL.