Upgrade Your Apartment Community with New Decking Materials

decking materials

The arrival of fall means that your residents will likely be spending more time outdoors for cookouts, quiet conversation and general relaxation. In southern climates, patios made from concrete and decorative stone and pavers have proven to withstand weather and traffic during every season, making their installation preferable at apartments. Traditionally, wooden decks have required more maintenance or repair of faded finishes and warping resulting from heat and the sunlight. Advances in decking materials are closing the gap, however.

Composite decking materials provide durability

Composite decking boards that hold up to weather and require less maintenance are giving decks longer lives, says Home Depot Regional Pro Sales Manager Jeff Watson.

Composite decking boards are made of wood and plastic particles that are molded together to form boards similar in size and feel of regular lumber. Typically, recycled plastic is blended with wood pieces.

The texture looks and feels like a standard deck board and generally has more grip, Watson says. Best of all, the material doesn’t warp, rot or splinter if properly installed. Prefinished capped composite decking boards are stain resistant and easier to clean, often only requiring a wipe or spray down if something is spilled on it.

Also, pieces can interlock for easy installation and some types have a 15-year warranty.

While pricier than wood, composite decking boards pay off in the long run.

“An alternative if you want to prevent long-term maintenance is composite boards,” Watson says. “They have hidden fastener version and a nice, clean look on top. They are more expensive on the front end but you save the long-term maintenance.”

Decks that always look good and last longer is a nice amenity for residents, he added.

“They’ll last for decades and nothing more is required than just rinsing the dirt off,” he said. “The benefit of composite decks is having an outdoor amenity that always looks attractive and helps improve resident retention while holding down costs.”

Modern, sleek railings update outdoor areas

Composite decking materials can also be used for railings around the deck, but Watson says apartments can get a more modern look with new metal and cable rail systems that are available. The systems are simple, sturdy and prevent residents from feeling boxed in.

Horizontal four- or five-strand cable runs through metal poles affixed to the deck.

“A real popular look coming on these days is using cable,” Watson said. “It provides nice railing that allows people to see through it.”

Also, adding lighting around the deck can make the outdoors feel more festive or cozy.

Coating gives existing wooden decks a new look

For apartments that have a deck but don’t want to bite off a big expense for going composite, new paint technology may be a solution. Products are available that paint over old wood and extend the life of the deck.

Behr’s DeckOver is a 100 percent acrylic resin fused with ceramic microspheres that coats decks quickly and easily. The finish resists cracking and peeling and conceals splinters and imperfections. It’s mildew-resistant and has a smooth, slip-resistant finish.

“It extends the life of your already challenged deck,” Watson said. “It takes more to cover an area than a gallon of paint but it’s a great option to prolong the life of existing structures.”

Some preparation is required but Watson says it goes on easily and in a matter of hours the deck is revitalized and ready for us.

“Once it’s clean, you apply Deck Over and let it dry like paint.”


Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

author photo two

Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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