Choices for Building a 'Green' Deck Choices for Building a 'Green' Deck

During the way too short summer we all want to be outside enjoying the warm weather and relaxing on a back yard deck is one of the best ways to enjoy that summer weather. However, with concerns about global deforestation a simple thing like building a backyard deck can cause environmentally aware people a lot of stress. Fortunately, there are some ways you can enjoy your own backyard deck without having to worry about your environmental footprint. Here's some ideas on how you can build your own 'green' deck.

Wood – the natural choice

  • While some people are concerned that using wood for their new deck will contribute to forest depletion that's not necessarily the case. Beginning in the 1990's an international organization, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has been monitoring and certifying companies that produce lumber using environmentally sustainable techniques. If you want your new deck to be built of wood, you can be sure wood that is stamped with the FSC logo is from a sustainable forest and poses no threat to the environment.

Plastic/PVC lumber

  • From a distance plastic lumber looks just like wood and is available in a wide range of colors. In addition, it won't split or crack, never needs maintenance and resists rot and insects so it will last for years.
  • It's great from an environmental perspective since it's made from recycled plastic it helps keep plastic out of landfills and as an added bonus at the end of the deck's life it can itself be recycled.
  • Perhaps the only downside to plastic /PVC lumbe r is it's made from PVC which is petroleum based and is a non renewable resource.


  • Aluminum decking has many properties similar to plastic/PVC lumber in that it won't rot or splinter, resists insects, lasts for years and since it's made from aluminum, can be recycled.
  • As well, since aluminum is totally water resistant deck built with tongue and groove decking can actually create a water proof storage area underneath the deck surface.
  • Plus as an added bonus, according to aluminum decking providers, the powder coat finish in combination with the natural heat dissipation properties of the aluminum itself, means an aluminum deck will actually stay cooler in the sun than either wood or plastic.

What about wood composites?

  • At first glance, wood composite decking seems like a perfect 'green' building material. It's made from a combination of recycled plastic (that likely was headed for a landfill) and recycled wood materials (often saw dust) so no trees need to be cut down to manufacture the product.
  • Wood composite also has many of the virtues of plastic lumber in that it lasts for years, won't splinter or rot, resists insects and is available in a range of colors.
  • However, from an environmental perspective there is a problem with wood composite decking - it never breaks down. The combination of a natural product (wood) and a man made product (plastic) once combined can't be taken apart.
  • So, one of the major strengths of wood composite lumber (its indestructibility), becomes a significant weakness, since at the end of it's life, because composite decking can't be recycled it will likely end up in a landfill.
Murray Anderson is a veteran freelancer whose work has appeared in books, newspapers and newsletters as well as on numerous websites in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics including home, personal and consumer subjects as well as general business and Marketing specific topics.

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