Buyer's Guide to Decking: Aluminum and Stone
If you want zero worries about whether the latest synthetic decking will prove as good as the advertiser claims, these low-maintenance options should put your mind at ease.
Not all homeowners will respond to the limited choice in colors or the way it sounds when they walk on it, but aluminum’s powdercoated surface, made from the same material used to coat pickup-truck beds, is slip resistant and durable.
Aluminum decking has another advantage: Some planks lock together to form a rainproof surface, meaning a dry storage area or even an extra room beneath the deck. Water that does get through the surface of the deck is directed away from the house by small internal gutters. One downside is cost. Aluminum decking is even more expensive than capstock planks.
Pros: Impervious to insects and fire; watertight surface; cool underfoot
Cons: Limited color choice; expensive; unfamiliar material
Also in the ultra-low-maintenance category is a deck made from stone tile. Paverdeck sells a deck frame that consists of 16-ga. galvanized-steel beams and planks designed to be installed on concrete piers. Once in place, the substrate can be capped with stone tile. Decks are designed to last 60 years and come with a structural warranty of 30 years. The steel beams and planks retail for between $12 and $15 per sq. ft.
Another manufacturer, EzyTile, says that its product can be installed over virtually any flat, solid surface. Tiles have interlocking bases that automatically set the spacing. Because there’s no grout, water can drain between tiles. The system sells for between $8 and $12 per sq. ft.
Pros: Extremely durable surface; unaffected by water; impervious to insects and fire
Cons: Relatively high cost; some systems are labor intensive to install