Whether you live in the city, the suburbs or the countryside, a deck can add value to your home and enhance your outdoor entertaining space.

If you’re considering building a new deck or replacing your old one, it’s important to know which decking materials can stand the test of time and hold up to the elements. 

Plagued with rotting wood, Pierre Garcia is replacing his deck with a manufactured or composite material.

“It’s easy…little to no maintenance,” he said. 

While that convenience means a higher price tag, it also includes a 25-year warranty. These are just some of the considerations you’ll want to think about when building a deck.

Consumer Reports is currently testing a variety of decking materials, including yellow pine wood, aluminum, composite and vinyl.

“You’ll want your decking to last, so we test deck boards to see if they resist flexing, slipping, staining and surface damage,” said Eric Hagerman, Consumer Reports home editor. 

The decking materials go undergo a rigorous testing process: sharp and blunt objects are dropped onto them to determine how it resists denting. Another test determines how well a material resists bending under heavy weight.

The decking materials then take a trip down south. 

“After we test the decking samples here, we send them out to Florida and Arizona where we let them sit out under the sun for a year at a time,” said Hagerman. 

The samples are then sent back to Consumer Reports and put through the same tough lab tests, and the cycle is repeated two more times for a total of three years.

Hagerman added, “Because we have such a rigorous process, it’s going to be another couple years before we have overall scores for each of the models in our ratings.”

Consumer Reports expects testing to wrap up in 2020, but here’s a sneak peek at how things are stacking up.

What’s the best deck for your money? 

Consider southern yellow pine, it costs about $0.93 a square foot. It doesn’t bend under heavy loads and it’s less slippery than most other materials. But, it does soak up stains and is prone to surface damage, and natural wood doesn’t come with a warranty.

On the other hand, today’s composite decks resist stains and stand up to surface damage better than pine. So consider Fiberon Horizon composite decking for about $3.86 a square foot.

What about vinyl? CertainTeed EverNew decking is performing well in tests so far, and it costs about $3.66 a square foot. 

Finally, how about aluminium? Experts say it’s tough, rigid and slip resistant, but it’s also costly and no one would mistake it for real wood.