Things To Consider When Planning A Deck

Posted 1 May 2013 2:25 PM by Universal Forest Products

Now that warmer temperatures are taking hold, people are heading to their favorite outdoor spots, like the deck. Once primarily used for sunbathing, decks have grown into outdoor living spaces to work, relax, cook, dine and entertain -- day or night. And deck options have grown with them. Here are a few basics any deck planner should consider:

Decking materials — Wood, composite or plastic? It’s perhaps the most important - and most difficult -- choice to make because cost, durability and maintenance needs can vary significantly. Wood can be the most affordable or the most expensive option, depending on the species. Composites and plastics can be easier to maintain.

Here's a simple overview of how a few popular decking materials stack up.


Pressure-treated wood   

Redwood or Cedar   

Tropical hardwoods  

Composite / Plastic   


Least expensive


Most expensive

Low to medium cost


Periodic cleaning

Periodic cleaning

Periodic cleaning

Periodic cleaning


Every 2-3 years

Every 3-5 years

Periodic, depending on desired look  


Building the understructure - 
We recommend using ProWood® professional grade treated lumber when building the understructure for your deck. ProWood pressure-treated lumber is made for ground-contact and backed by a lifetime limited warranty against termite infestation and rot.

Balusters — Tradition says wood decks get wood balusters and composite decks get composite balusters, but it doesn't need to be that way. Aluminum balusters are a great alternative providing deck owners with great color and style options that are durable and low-maintenance.

Lighting and other accessories — Deck owners can enjoy their decks well into the evening by adding solar or low-voltage lighting to posts, railings and steps. With numerous outdoor lighting options, lighting becomes more than just functional; it adds stylish accents that can be enjoyed well beyond the evening hours. For example, we offer low voltage LED and wireless solar deck lights as well as solar post caps

Building codes and zoning — Although most of the options described above should be permissible, check with the local building authority to see if there are restrictions and approvals to consider.

Design it! — To get a better sense of how various materials and accessories look and mix, try the Deckorators Deck Designer.