9 Deck Ideas: Find the Best Decking Material for Your Space
| Fact Checked By: Sonal Agarwal
Published: March 29, 2021 | Updated: March 17, 2022
If you’re renovating your deck or building one from scratch, you need to start by finding the best material for your outdoor space. While wood decks have been the most common in the past, there are a ton of deck ideas to choose from including composite decking materials that are durable and great looking. So how do you make your decision?
This guide can help with that! In addition to covering some of the most popular deck ideas, you’ll also get tips on the right solution for your space, whether you’re looking for sunroom flooring, rooftop decking, or flooring to go around your pool.
Let’s get started!
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The 3 Best Decking Material Options
To find the right flooring for your outdoor space, first, you need to know what decking is made out of. Different deck materials come with their advantages and drawbacks. There are a few options, so it’s important to determine the right fit for you.
Composite Decking Tiles and Boards
Other than wood this is by far the most popular outdoor flooring option and with good reason. Composite decking is a synthetic material made from a composite of recycled wood/bamboo, plastic, and glue. It’s eco-friendly, durable, and easy to maintain.
Wood composite decks have become a popular alternative to real wood for several reasons. They’re easier to maintain, easier to install, and they’re lighter than solid wood. Plus, they resist rot and insects. Real wood can’t do that!
Our composite decking comes in both tile and board form:
- Composite deck tiles: Our tiles snap together for easy installation. They feature several slatted designs and come in a multitude of colors. There are even some wood-look options.
- Composite deck boards: These boards are undoubtedly the most realistic wood-look option. They feature a wood grain pattern with the perfect wood-look texture. They’re slightly more difficult to install compared to deck tiles, but still very DIY-friendly.
How to Install Composite Decking Tiles and Boards
It’s very easy to install composite decking on your own, so you rarely need to hire an installer to help.
Tiles: It takes minimal effort to DIY install composite deck tiles. Just start by interlocking the peg and loop edges to create a perimeter around your deck, and then fill in the whole area. The tiles easily snap together, and you can cut them with a circular saw or table saw if needed.
Boards: To install composite deck boards, you need to start by building a stable platform using the provided breaker boards and screws. Then you drill clips into the boards, andclip them together. While this process is more involved than deck tile installation, it’s still easier than solid hardwood, and the more realistic appearance may be worth the effort.
Pros and Cons of Composite Decking Tiles and Boards
Not sure if this is the right choice for you? Weigh out the pros and cons to help you decide.
What are the benefits of composite decking?
- Eco-friendly: It’s made from sustainable materials like recycled bamboo, wood, and plastic.
- Easy to install: Composite deck tiles snap together for a quick and simple installation. The boards fit together with clips. Either way, you don’t need to spend money on an installer.
- Weather-resistant: This flooring can withstand the elements, with fade-resistance and weather-resistance that can handle the rain, snow, or sun.
- Water-resistant: Composite decking is made from plastic, so it doesn’t absorb water easily.
- Mold- and mildew-resistant: Have you noticed how untreated wood can mildew after a long time outside? That doesn’t happen with composite. You can count on a hygienic, mold-free deck.
What are the drawbacks of composite decking?
- Heat: This decking can get hot in the sun. To remedy this, try to create more shade.
- Price: The upfront cost can be expensive, but with composite wood decking you can install it yourself and the extended warranties make it so composite decking pays for itself after a few years, because you don’t have to spend money on maintenance as you do with natural wood.
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Outdoor Rubber Pavers
Outdoor rubber pavers are the perfect solution for decks or patio flooring. They offer the look of stone pavers without as much heat in the sunlight. Rubber is also slip-resistant when wet!
You can choose from a wide range of rubber pavers styles, from classic cobblestone looks to creative “dog bone” shapes and everything in between. These pavers come in many different sizes and thicknesses and are very easy to install.
These products are made of recycled rubber, making them eco-friendly as well.
How to Install Outdoor Rubber Pavers
Rubber paver tiles are very easy to install. You can usually just lay them over a clean, stable surface like concrete or pea gravel, and they’ll stay in place under their own weight.
If you want something more permanent, you can also apply adhesive to the bottom of each paver before firmly pressing it down.
Pros and Cons of Outdoor Rubber Pavers
If you think this might be a good fit, but you’re still not certain, weigh the pros and cons before you make a decision.
What are the advantages of outdoor rubber pavers?
- Slip-resistant: Rubber flooring becomes even more slip-resistant when it gets wet. That’s a huge plus for outdoor flooring, especially in areas that surround pools or water features.
- Durable: These pavers are built to last, no matter how much traffic your deck or patio gets. This stuff has even been used in horse stalls. Now that’s tough!
- Shock absorbent: Compared to brick or stone, rubber flooring is much more forgiving. That’s important when you consider comfort.
What are the drawbacks of outdoor rubber pavers?
- Heat: It’s just a fact. Rubber gets hot in the sun. You want to make sure you install rubber flooring in a well-shaded area.
- Price: This material is pricier than other options, but it’s also super durable. If you’re looking for a short-term solution this might not be the best option for you.
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Plastic Outdoor Drainage Tiles
Drainage tiles are vented interlocking tiles that allow water to freely flow through the floor to a drain. These tiles are made of plastic which is great in areas with a lot of moisture, like around pools.
Our plastic drain tiles are resistant to mold and mildew and can also be fade-resistant depending on the manufacturer. Because they’re made of plastic, they also come in a wide range of colors, from contemporary neutrals to more bold and bright looks.
These tiles are very easy to install, making them a DIY dream. Plus, they’re easy to clean with the use of a broom or hose.
How to Install Plastic Outdoor Drainage Tiles
Plastic tiles are designed for DIYers. They come with interlocking edges that you can easily click together. Start by laying out the tiles to create a perimeter around your installation area. To connect them, insert the pegs of one tile into the loops of an adjacent tile. Then you can fill in the rest of the deck with tiles.
The nice thing about having so many color options is that you can get creative with the installation. Maybe you want a checkerboard pattern or even stripes! There are tons of possibilities.
Pros and Cons of Plastic Outdoor Drainage Tiles
If you need help making a decision, consider these pros and cons!
What are the advantages of outdoor drainage tiles?
- DIY installation: Just snap the tiles together over a clean, level subfloor, and you’re done!
- Color options: Plastic tiles give you the most color options of any outdoor flooring.
- Optimal drainage: The vented design easily drains moisture in wet areas, and so you won’t have to deal with standing water.
What are the drawbacks of outdoor drainage tiles?
- Heat: Plastic gets hot in the sun, but you can create shade to help with the temperature.
- Comfort: The vented design is practical, but not as comfortable, so keep that in mind.
The 6 Best Deck Ideas
Do you need specific decking for a certain place, like around a pool or in your sunroom? Some options perform better than others in unique applications. Check out our recommendations to find the option that’s a perfect fit for you.
Best Rooftop Deck Options
Rooftop deck flooring is specially designed to not puncture or tear the waterproof membrane of a flat-top roof. Most modern flat-top roofs are sealed with a single-ply rubber membrane that is meant to protect the roof from leaks and water damage.
That means you need to be careful when you choose rooftop flooring to prevent damage. A good floor is durable, weather and UV resistant, and made to protect your roof.
The best options for this kind of decking include rubber pavers and composite deck tiles. Both options are easy to install, offer protection to the subfloor, and are simple to pull up if you need to replace any sections.
For rubber/TPO rooftop decks, we recommend using Soft Flex Tiles since they’re made of a softer plastic that won’t cut through the rubber/TPO.
Our Best Rooftop Deck Recommendations for Non-Rubber Decks:
- Deck Top Roof Tiles
- Helios Composite Deck Board Tiles (4 Slat)
- Naturesort Deck Tiles – Terrace (4 Slat)
- Helios Deck Tiles (8 Slat)
Best Patio Flooring Options
Patio flooring is all about two things: style and easy installation. Your patio is likely your go-to outdoor hangout spot, so you want the style to fit your personality. You also don’t want something difficult to install, because, with a small deck or patio, it just makes sense to make it into a DIY project.
The great thing about patios is that you usually have a nice concrete slab to start with as a base. This makes installation easier since you can just lay your flooring over top of it. If you’re building a patio from scratch, you might want to consider something like a paver tile vs. composite decking.
Patios are very versatile. You might use the space for evenings with friends, or playtime with your pets, or as your own mini-garden. That means you have a lot of great options for flooring, from pavers to composite decking, and even outdoor carpet or turf!
Our Best Patio Flooring Recommendations:
- UltraShield Naturale Magellan 8′ Deck Boards
- Helios Artificial Grass Deck Tiles
- Helios Deck Tiles (6 Slat)
- Hobnail Extreme Carpet Tile
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Best Sunroom Flooring Options
Sunrooms are unique because they’re mostly protected from the weather. Your main concern is to protect the floor from fading with extended exposure to…well, the sun! Sunrooms tend to get a lot of rays.
With this in mind, you can choose sunroom flooring that isn’t as weather-resistant, but UV resistance will still be a good idea. This is the place where you can easily have carpet or a nice area rug. Other flooring options include composite decking!
Our Best Sunroom Flooring Recommendations:
- UltraShield Naturale Cortes 8′ Deck Boards
- Hobnail Extreme Carpet Tile
- Helios Deck Tiles (4 Slat)
- Gemstone Outdoor Area Rug
Best Pool Deck Options
Pool deck flooring needs to be safe, first and foremost. Slip-resistant features are a must-have around pools. Plus, in an area with a lot of moisture, you need to think about mold and mildew growth. Natural wood probably isn’t the best solution here.
While safety is crucial, style is also an important factor. You’re going to spend a lot of time lounging around your pool, so you want it to look nice.
For the perfect combination of practicality and style, consider plastic drainage tiles to ensure there’s no standing water around the pool. Rubber paver tiles and composite decks are also good options.
Our Best Pool Deck Recommendations:
Best Boat Decking Options
Boat flooring needs to handle a lot of challenges – constant exposure to the elements, tons of water, and possibly even saltwater – so durability is an important factor. The ideal boat deck has to be mold and mildew resistant and designed to drain water properly.
There’s also the maintenance to consider. No one wants to spend hours worrying about keeping their boat flooring clean. You need something that practically takes care of itself.
That’s why we recommend drainage tiles or vinyl rolls as some of the best flooring options. Composite decking also performs well, and it’s a bit more stylish. A hardy outdoor carpet can also work as boat flooring.
Our Best Boat Decking Recommendations:
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Best Dock Decking Options
Typically, boat dock decking is made of wood planks, but even if the wood is treated, it can deteriorate over time. Look for options that won’t mold or mildew, and choose something slip-resistant as well.
This decking has similar needs to decking around a pool, and in this case, durability is even more important. A dock gets a lot of traffic and will have to contend with flooding and boats bumping into it frequently.
People will often choose composite deck boards for docks. Plastic drainage tiles also get the job done, and rubber pavers provide the ideal slip resistance.
Our Best Dock Decking Recommendations:
- UltraShield Naturale Cortes 8′ Deck Boards
- UltraShield Naturale Magellan 8′ Deck Boards
- ProFlow Drainage Tiles
- Flagstone Rubber Pavers
Still have some questions about decks? No problem! We’ve got the answers to some of the biggest FAQs.
What decking material is the best?
Composite decking is one of the best options these days. Since it’s made from a composite of wood and plastic, it’s moisture resistant and won’t mold or mildew. It’s also easy to install on your own.
Plus, this deck is made from sustainable materials, so it’s eco-friendly. Since you don’t need to hire an installer, and you spend less time and money, composite decking ends up paying for itself over time.
Can decking be laid on grass or soil?
You shouldn’t lay decking on grass or soil, because these aren’t stable surfaces. The grass and soil can wear away, creating uneven spots that will make your deck shift over time. This setup also exposes your deck to more moisture, which can potentially cause damage.
Instead, you should lay your deck over a concrete slab, compact sand, or pea gravel. These surfaces provide more stability and optimal drainage.
What decking material stays cool?
Virtually all decks get hot in the sun. Material like plastic, composite wood, and even rubber pavers are weather resistant and durable, but those materials also soak up heat. Some composite decking products are designed to be somewhat heat resistant, but this isn’t foolproof. The best way to reduce the heat is to create as much shade as possible.
How much does decking cost?
The cost of decking depends on the material you’re using. According to HomeAdvisor, composite decking costs an average of $4 – $12 per sqft. Pressure-treated wood costs $2 – $5 per sqft in comparison. Other products like rubber pavers and plastic tiles will vary.
When considering the price, it’s important to think about the long-term costs as well and the upfront price. Though natural wood decking costs less at first, you’ll save money in the long run with composite decking, because you won’t need to replace it, stain it, or sand it ever.
Finding the best decking option for you depends a lot on how you intend to use your outdoor space. The great news is that there are options for virtually every application, from swimming pool decking to patios, and even boat flooring.
Feeling inspired to upgrade your deck? Start your project by ordering some free samples!