When it comes to living an indoor-outdoor lifestyle most homeowners crave, it is essential to be able to access both spaces comfortably without the worry of home material hazards. This means that people who live in climates that get the big winters with lots of snow, slush, ice, and frost, are compelled to choose outdoor decking materials best suited for this type of weather. When you select decking that leads to a variety of exposure issues such as rot, mold, and warping, your space will be at a disadvantage during the remainder of the year and possibly for years to come.
The goal of good outdoor decking is to provide you with a safe outdoor patio space all year long, especially during the off-winter months. This article will examine the best deck material for snow. You will learn the different advantages of each type so that you can make the best decision if you are refurbishing or building a new deck.
5 Best Deck Material for Snow
Outdoor decks need proper attention all year long. Exterior materials built for the outdoors work best when snow and moisture can sit upon them for an extended period. Avoid water damage, mold, and mildew with a non-wood deck surface.
1. High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Plastic Lumber
HDPE Plastic Lumber is the go-to material for durable, waterproof outdoor decking. This strong recycled plastic lumber is excellent for an outdoor deck in wintery and snowy climates. This polyethylene material is impervious to water, mold, mildew, and insects, and is ideal to stand up to snow and the winter transition to the warmer months, averting deck damage.
Synthetic lumber is manufactured to handle every kind of exposure. The deck won’t warp, shift in shape, age, or stain. It is the best and most common synthetic material for homeowners to depend on for outdoor decking. Expect low maintenance with HDPE Plastic Lumber with a life expectancy of at least 25 years.
Less expensive than natural wood, HDPE lumber is created in plank sizes to resemble natural wood decks. The plastic lumber collections vary in styles and colors. Super easy to maintain, it is recommended every 4 months or so to do a seasonal cleaning of your plastic lumber deck. To clear away any dirt buildup just hose down the boards with a gentle liquid detergent and use a soft cleaning brush to brush away the debris.
2. Composite Decking
One of the more popular decking materials is composite or composite wood decking. It is durable in all types of climates, especially snowy and icy ones. Constructed from a blend of plastic film and natural wood fibers, composite decking includes outer polypropylenes bonded together with the board’s core wood fibers. Some professionals agree that this blend of materials creates a more resilient deck than all-plastic decking.
Today’s modern composite decking plastics create a strong shield from moisture seeping into the material. Most composite decking brands utilize some version of recycled and new plastic materials (such as plastic shopping bags), with raw natural wood fibers or bamboo.
If you have chosen composite decking you will also have to think about protecting the wood fiber core by capping it and wrapping it with a polymer. What does this even mean? To fully protect the planks from snow, most brands add an extra outer shell to the product. You will find that some brands sell their products capped and co-extruded. The deck boards are finished with end caps and trim boards. This outer shell ensures stability to the planks during temperature changes throughout the season, all while resisting moisture. Your decking needs this extra treatment so the deck will not peel, especially important when you have to shovel the snow away. And, so moisture isn’t absorbed from the bottom of the deck. Think about what happens in that freeze-thaw cycle. This cap protects the joist or deck structure base from holding water from melted snow, which prevents materials from warping and rotting.
The maintenance of composite decking is hassle-free. Not prone to bugs or termites, composite decking also is splinter-free. Easy to shop for at home improvement stores, composite decking is available and affordable. This decking is offered in multiple architectural styles and colors that mimic the natural look of wood.
3. Pressure-Treated Lumber
Unlike raw wood, pressure-treated wood uses a solution-treatment technique using natural metals and other chemicals to preserve the wood. It is an often-used material for outdoor projects like building a deck. This solution comprised of materials like chromium, copper and even arsenic is forced into the grain of the wood. The chemicals keep the insects away and protect the wood from absorbing moisture. The chemicals are a sticking point for many people who are averse to this environmental hazard.
Homeowners who want a traditional natural wood deck often opt for pressure-treated lumber. It resists that warm to cold temperature shift these homes endure. Not as strong as composite decking, pressure-treated lumber can be affected by snow, ice, and a wet weather season.
Assuming you properly maintain your pressure-treated lumber decking, the deck may last up to 50 years. Known to resist water, you will still need to maintain your pressure-treated deck. This includes yearly painting and staining, and possibly extra coatings for waterproofing like latex especially if the climate you reside in expects heavy snow. Schedule to remove mold and mildew often, and promptly seek out any termites and/or damage from these critters. The quicker you handle these issues, your deck can sustain throughout the snowy season.
Due to current supply chain issues, pressure-treated wood is on the more expensive side of deck materials and is slightly harder to find. But, most large retailers specializing in home improvement should have it in stock.
4. Anodized Aluminum Decking
Aluminum is one building material that levels up to the regions that get a lot of wet weather including snow. Not often thought about at first, aluminum decking is durable compared to wood decks. Made from aluminum, the anodized layer is created through an electrochemical process. The metal is immersed in a series of tanks and ultimately remains in one tank where the anodic layer is grown from the metal itself.
Your anodized aluminum decking will never peel, chip, splinter, mold, or rot. It is a super reliable material. Some professionals prefer this type of decking material because of its longevity. Maintenance is minimal. Just hose it down if it gets dirty. The aluminum is also recyclable.
Although more expensive than wood and composite woods, aluminum decking materials are long-lasting. Anodized aluminum decking is available in powder-coated finishes ranging in a few colors and patterns, and features textured surfaces for added walking traction.
Not ideal for a beach house deck, salt and salt water can corrode the aluminum.
General contractors and homeowners like the fiberglass option for decks. One of the best waterproofing materials, fiberglass is an affordable and durable choice for your deck. Rainy and snowy regions install fiberglass decks to ensure a safe and enjoyable outdoor space all year long for up to 30 years.
Built from fine glass fibers and resins, fiberglass is used for all types of construction. Extremely resistant to water and moisture, exposure is minimal to fiberglass. This material won’t warp, stain, rot or attract insects. Fiberglass is treated with a topcoat to fend off extreme weather and the harsh sun UVs.
Fiberglass is also fully recyclable, which is a draw for many homeowners. While not the cheapest material on the market, fiberglass is available in a variety of styles, and professional installation is required. Not much maintenance is needed for fiberglass decks during the off-season. Light sweeping or simply vacuuming will get rid of light debris and dust. If you are cleaning up spills a damp mop or cloth and mild soap will do the trick. Do not use bleach. Every 5 years or so, professional installers and manufacturers recommend a fresh coat of weatherproofing gel finish is needed.