Decking material for rental property

5 Replies

Hi BP,

I'm looking to add a new deck to a rental property in the Bay Area. I'm having a lot of trouble deciding what material to use (pressure treated wood vs composite, etc).

I understand the pros and cons, and I'm leaning towards composite due to low maintenance but second guessing it because of costs and all the complaints online about it (hot, slippery, unreliable [trex], etc). On the flip side though, people make wood decks seem like a nightmare headache. For those with real wood decks, how are you maintaining them? Do you go back to your rentals every few years? Or do your tenants maintain? 

I recognize there is this affordability/maintainability tradeoff - where along this curve is optimal? If anyone has experience with this and can give some advice, that would be wonderful. Thank you! 

Look at what people are using in your area.  I know there are different types of composite, but haven't used any.  If you plan on holding the property for a while, think about costs of upkeep and longevity.  It might be worth it to pay a bit more up front for a material that will last longer.  If the desk is ground level (or could be), pavers are another option.

I have quite a few homes with Trex decking. It's not slippery, so I'm not sure where that complaint comes from. It seems to be holding up, but I haven't seen any more than ten years old. I've seen quite a bit of it warp and other wise fail but the newer versions seem to have fewer problems.

Wood decks are cheaper but they can have just as many problems and require on-going maitenance. When you add up the costs and time, I think a composite is a better option. You really have to study what others are using, weather, how well the occupant can maintain things, how much time you have availalbe for maintenance, etc.

Go take a look at a 10 year old composite deck and then at a wood deck of the same age. The composite wont look much different other than being a little dirty. If you clean/ power wash it annually it will look just as good as the day you installed it. 

In San Francisco it's mostly wood decks. PT wood for all the structure, then redwood for the flooring and handrails, as it looks and feels much better than PT on feet and hands :). I don't stain or paint them! That helps with maintenance. At lease in our climate they can last a long time. On roof decks I put those snap together composite "tiles"...better than having tenants walk on a flat roof and eff it up. Water drains under the tiles. So far so good, but they mildew more than the wood, and discolor and maybe warp a bit too. In that sense the wood is better.
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my2c