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12 Types Of Decking Boards, Materials And Layouts

When choosing a decking design, the first steps involve choosing the boards, materials, and layout you would like. Once you have this information, getting an accurate estimate and drawing up plans is much easier. Thus, you are looking for a solid list of decking boards, materials, and layouts. In this post, we provide 12 options to answer your question thoroughly.

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There are almost as many boards, materials, and layouts for decking boards as there are decks. However, below we list several of the primary types for each of these categories. This list covers the main decking options that are likely popular and effective in your area.

  • Boards
    1. Thickness
    2. Width
    3. Color/Finish
  • Materials
    1. Natural Wood
    2. Composite
    3. Pressure-Treated
  • Layouts
    1. Vertical
    2. Horizontal
    3. Diagonal
    4. Herringbone
    5. Chevron
    6. Bordered

Keep reading the rest of this post for details on the above categories and types. This post acts as a primer to help introduce you to the options out there when choosing your decking. To conclude, we provide a valuable additional reading list.

Constructing a black wooden deck at the backyard, 12 Types Of Decking Boards, Materials And Layouts

12 Types Of Decking Boards, Materials, And Layouts

Consider mixing and matching the options on this list to personalize your decking to match your style, home, and budget. It is possible to incorporate almost all types, materials, and layouts together in the list below. Note that depending on the layout, material, and type, the deck's framing, and design may have to change. Therefore, get the help of a professional when making your final design decisions.

Decking refers explicitly to the wood and material placed on top of a deck's framing. In other words, we are talking about the stuff that you actually place your feet on. This post does not discuss other decking options like framing, railings, footings, and more.

Boards

Mainly, deck boards are delineated by thickness, color, and material. In the following three subsections, we cover these decking types.

Thickness

Generally, decking comes in 2", 5/4", and 1" thicknesses. Take note that, as with all other lumber, the listed thickness does not match the actual thickness of the board. Generally, the board is about 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thinner than the listed measurement. Therefore, a 5/4" board is not five-quarters thick but is rather closer to 1-inch thick.

A stock pile of wooden 2x4 planks

The most significant upsides of thicker boards are that they are sturdier and will likely last longer. The additional sturdiness means you need to frame cross members or joists less frequently for thicker boards. However, thicker decking is also almost always more expensive than similar thinner decking.

Width

A small pile of 2x4 planks for a house underconstruction

Most often, decking boards are about 4-inches wide. However, it is not uncommon for them to be 3-inches to about 6-inches in width. If you want to mix up the look of your deck, it is possible to vary the width across the space to create a pattern.

Color/Finish

The color/finish of your deck is one of the most important decisions you will make when it comes to the final product. For some deck types, like composite and other synthetic decks like plastic, you will need to choose your color before you purchase the boards. You can paint or stain the deck as you choose for any kind of wood deck.

A gorgeous wooden front porch of a classic American house

Composite decking boards come in a wide range of colors. If you visit your local lumberyard or materials warehouse and do not see a color you like, ask the representatives if there are other colors that they can order.

For wood, you should peruse the many options available. Most people stain their decks to give them a more natural outdoor look. White is also a very common color. For some natural materials, such as cedar and pressure-treated lumber, it is possible to leave them unfinished to give your deck a natural look.

Materials

Natural wood, pressure-treated wood, and composite decking are the most common materials used for decking. The following sections cover each type and include the general pros and cons. 

Natural Wood

Natural wood is the most traditional decking. Generally, a rot-resistant type of wood, such as cedar, is preferred. This is because your deck is exposed to all the elements throughout the year. Of all the options listed here, natural wood requires the most maintenance because it NEEDS to be stained or painted, or it will rot very quickly. However, natural wood is one of the cheapest material options.

Wooden entertainment deck with brown foam chairs anda small trellis on the side

To get an idea of the wide range of natural woods used for decking, consider reading catalogs of design and also look at the displays available at many lumberyards.

Pressure-Treated

An up close photo of a decking board

Pressure-treated lumber is created by forcing rot-resistant liquid chemicals into natural wood. This material is usually a dark brownish greenish color but can also be relatively light - it depends on the pressure treatment process. Generally, pressure-treated lumber is more expensive than natural wood. However, while there is no need to finish pressure-treated lumber, it is still possible to paint or stain.

Composite

Composite decking is, just like it sounds, a mix of plastic and wood fibers that are held together by glue and have chemical additives. This decking is expensive but long-lasting compared to wood and even pressure-treated wood. Additionally, there is no risk of painful splinters with composite decking, and it does not get as slippery when wet.

Plastic wicker chairs placed on the wooden deck

Further, composite decking comes with consistent pre-applied color, so it requires no finish of any kind. Finally, composite decking is heavier per square foot, so that it will need more framing.

Layouts

Layout, even more than type and material, fundamentally impacts how your final deck will appear. Generally, different configurations require the framing to be done in a specific way to match the layout. Therefore, be sure to have your layout solidified before you start the deck.

Further, the more complicated the layout is, the more cost you can expect for the installation labor. That said, most deck professionals can easily install any of the following layouts. In addition, consider mixing and matching these layouts for a decking design that is all your own. 

Vertical

A small wooden deck with a pool on the side providing a gorgeous scenic view of a mountain range

Vertical means decking that spans the deck in a way that is perpendicular to the house. Often, this is the easiest and cheapest method because it usually requires shorter boards that all can be cut to the same length. The simplicity of this method is sure to work with the rest of your home decor and make your contractor happy.

Horizontal

Installing a wooden deck behind a modern house

Horizontal is the other most common decking style. It contrasts with vertical only in that the decking mirrors the direction of the house. In some situations, this method is easier to frame depending on whether the horizontal or vertical deck distance is longer. For most decks, the flat style will require more board breaks over the decking space.

Diagonal

A stockpile of 2x4 wooden planks

Diagonal can be done at 45-degree, 30-degrees, 22-degrees, or any other angle you see fit. This requires more complicated cuts but does produce an interesting contrast to the straight lines that make up most decks. One advantage of this style is that it is possible to employ with most types of original framing. Generally, you will need a smaller angle if the framing joists are farther apart and vice versa.

Herringbone

Diagonal patterned wooden deck

Herringbone is a popular pattern for both decks and hardwood floors. You can employ this pattern both in the middle of your deck or at locations where the deck makes a corner, such as the corner of your home. Herringbone is where runs of square cut boards align, each overlapping just a bit to make a stepped herringbone pattern.

Chevron

Plastic vinyl deck

Chevron is like herringbone, but instead of square cut ends, the ends meet at an even angle. This particular pattern is more popular for a deck middle. It essentially is two diagonal patterns that go in opposite directions and meet in the middle of your deck. It is possible to have even more than two different directions!

Bordered

All of the above patterns can include borders. Usually, the border is one to ten boards wide and goes all the way around the outside of the deck. This can either go on both sides against the house and away from the house or just on the side away from the house.

A white wooden deck behind a green house

Borders are an easy way to add some visual pizzaz to your decking. Consider making the border out of wider or different colored material for an extra special option!

Additional Reading

To learn more about decking and decks, read these great Home Decor Bliss articles:

In Closing

Constructing a black wooden deck at the backyard

This post provides 12 different types, materials, and patterns for decking. This post includes a brief rundown of each of the twelve types of decking, including many pros and cons. To conclude, we provide a useful additional reading list. Good luck!