Consumer Reports: Getting the best deck for your money

No matter if you live in the city, the suburbs or the countryside, a deck can add value to your home and enhance your outdoor living space. Whether you're considering building a new one or replacing an older deck, Consumer Reports' latest tests reveal which decking materials can stand up to wear, tear and weather.

Pierre Garcia is replacing the existing rotted wood on this deck with a manufactured or composite decking material.

"It's easy ... little to no maintenance," he said.

That convenience comes with a higher price tag, but it also includes a 25-year warranty. These are just some of the considerations you'll want to make when building a deck.

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

"You want your decking to last so we test deck boards to see if they resist flexing, slipping, staining, and surface damage," said Consumer Reports Home Editor Eric Hagerman.

Here, sharp and blunt objects are dropped onto the decking material to assess how it resists denting.

And this test determines how well a material resists bending under a heavy load.

"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," Hagerman said.

Then, the samples are sent back to CR and put through the same tough lab tests. That cycle is repeated two more times for a total of three years!

"... 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," Hagerman said.

Here's a sneak peek at how things are stacking up.

The best for your money: southern yellow pine - about 70-cents a square foot. It doesn't bend under heavy loads and it's less slippery than most other materials.

But, it does soak up the stains and is prone to surface damage. And natural wood doesn't come with a warranty.

On the other hand, todays composite decking resists stains and stands up to surface damage better than pine. Consider Fiberon Horizon Composite Decking for about $2.90 a square foot.

Consumer Reports expects to wrap up the full testing in 2020.

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