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With the May long weekend behind us, we can expect (hopefully) warmer weather and longer days. Deck building season begins and whether you hire a reputable renovation contractor or do it yourself, there are a few options out there for decking materials. Here are some popular choices:

Pressure Treated Wood (Green Lumber) – Nowadays, pressure treated decks are popular because they are the most economical and material is readily available at home centers. Properly maintained, a pressure treated deck can easily last 15 years. Of course, every type of decking has disadvantages, and pressure treated lumber is no different. Most PT lumber is quite wet when purchased and as it dries, it can check (crack at the ends) or splinter. The chemicals in PT lumber can cause irritation, so it’s best to wear a dusk mask and gloves when cutting it.

Cedar – A more traditional material for decking, cedar is a good choice because it naturally resists rot and insects. It also wears well naturally and can last up to 20 years. The biggest disadvantage to a cedar deck nowadays is cost, material being around twice the cost of pressure treat. As well, common dimensions may be available at your local home centers, but some product may be harder to find.

Plastic Wood Composite – A blend of plastic and wood, some manufacturers of these boards claim they hold up better than wood products. They have virtually no maintenance, resist rot, insects and UV rays and many companies offer warranties on their products (be aware that some of the warranties are contingent on a certified installer). Although the product has come a long way in recent years, it still has that plastic looking appearance and some colors will fade over time. As well, the sawdust and shavings aren’t bio-degradable, meaning there is more cleanup after the deck is built. When building a deck with plastic-wood composite, check to make sure the material you are using can span 16" joist spaces, as some require less on center spacing. Lifespan is anywhere from 10-20 years based on warranties.

Vinyl Deck Systems – Vinyl deck have improved significantly as well, offering non-skid surfaces and virtual immunity to moisture and rot. Fading over time and cost are the biggest drawbacks of vinyl decks as well as having a deck that doesn’t look like natural wood. They can, however, last a lifetime.

A few basic tips about deck maintenance and construction

– Keep mother nature off of your deck to prolong its life. Whether it be snow in the winter or pine needles and seeds in the warmer months, left on the deck they can cause rot.

– If your deck requires sealing, make sure to do this regularly.

– If you like work, stain your deck. Mother nature does her best to make the stain chip and flake, requiring you to re-stain your deck often.

– A deck more than 2 feet above grade will require a permit in the City of Edmonton. Other municipalities may have different guidelines

– From 2 feet to 6 feet above grade, your deck must have a handrail a minimum of 3 feet high and not less than 4 inches in between spindles. The stairs must also have handrails.

If you want to view other blog posts from Robert & Michael at Nord Alta Construction, visit our blog on our site by clicking here.

If you’re in Edmonton, St. Albert, Sherwood Park, or the surrounding area and are looking for a contractor for you renovation project, visit our website at to find information on how to contact us. We’d be happy to speak to you about what we can do to get the ball rolling on your next home or office project. You can also leave comments with us at

Michael Breault is a project coordinator for Nord Alta Construction. You can find the company website at You can also find Michael and Nord Atla Construction on facebook at, on twitter at, and on LinkedIn.

Robert Breault is the president and owner of Nord Alta Construction. You can find the company website at You can also find Robert and Nord Alta Construction on facebook at and on LinkedIn.