What to Know Before Building a Deck During the Lumber Shortage

If you haven’t heard, there’s a national shortage of lumber right now that has resulted in costs increasing by several times over their typical levels, particularly for 2x4s and other softwood construction lumber. This means if you were hoping to build a deck on your Seattle property this summer, you might find it will be significantly more expensive than it would be in a normal year, at least if you were planning on building it out of wood.

The good news is there are alternative materials available that can still result in a great-looking, long-lasting deck that will help you fulfill your vision for your property.
Here’s a look at what you should know about some of these alternatives.

Alternatives to lumber for decks

There are certainly plenty of advantages associated with using wood. It resists flexing better than a lot of other materials, and is easier to refinish. It also has better slip resistance than some of the available alternatives.

However, common deck materials like composite, aluminum and PVC are all better for stain resistance than wood. In addition, these materials are much better with regard to rot resistance. While some types of wood, like pressure-treated pine and cedar, are more rot resistant than others, they simply cannot hold up better than these alternative materials.

These alternative materials have also seen increases in prices over the last year or more, but not nearly to the extent of lumber. In most cases, those alternative material increases have been anywhere from 10 to 15 percent, versus the 150 to 300 percent increases of prices for some types of wood.

While you will still likely pay more for these alternative materials than what you would pay for a wooden deck, the gap has significantly narrowed. If you already know you’re going to take on a deck project this summer, that might mean you’ll give a harder look at a composite or PVC deck than you otherwise would have if wood prices were around their usual low levels. In some cases, composite has even been cheaper than wood in some markets.

Keep in mind that while there are some great benefits to using these alternative materials, they also pose some limitations. Composite decks require pressure-treated wood framing, which is still expensive due to the lumber shortage. There are also 6×6 posts required for supporting decks, and the costs of those posts has gone up significantly, tripling or more in some markets.

Finally, there’s also the issue of supply with composite. Because of massive increases in lumber prices, there has been an increased interest in composite, which has led to a run on those materials in some areas.

So, if you know for sure you’re going to go forward with your deck project this year, carefully consider what you want out of your results and which materials will help you achieve your goal. Consider also the price you’re willing to pay, and whether riding out the challenging market might be advantageous.

For more information about alternatives to lumber for decks in Seattle, contact Stewart Lumber & Hardware Co. today.

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