If you live in a hotter climate, it’s important to make sure you choose a decking material that will “keep its cool” during the summer months. Needless to say, nothing is worse than stepping out on your deck in the middle of July, only to be met with a scorching surface. Don't worry, we're here to help you find the coolest decking.
Why are some decking materials cooler than others?
Your decking surface gets hotter in the sun based on the amount of solar or heat energy it absorbs versus how much it reflects. The darker the surface color, the more heat is absorbed and the hotter it becomes. The second factor is the type of material. For example, wood surfaces pull heat deep into the board; this makes the surface cooler but causes the board to stay warm longer once the sun is gone. To help you decide, we've ranked popular wood decking options by "cool" factor.
When you’re looking for the ultimate wood decking that stays cooler in the summer, there is not a better option than Ipe. Ipe decking packs in a lot of features and is one of our top choices for many reasons. It's a very dense wood which makes it incredibly durable and causes it retains less heat than its counterparts. Ipe does come with a slightly higher price tag but it certainly delivers on what you are paying for. We highly recommend Ipe if you’re looking for a high-quality deck that stays cool.
Cedar is another great choice for decks that are in hotter climates and get more direct sunlight. Compared to Hardwood and composite decking, it’s generally a more affordable option but it still packs in plenty of features. While Ipe is the coolest option, Cedar decking is a close second as it maintains a temperature that is a few degrees cooler than Redwood when exposed to the sun.
There’s a reason why Redwood is California’s predominant decking material. It is low-maintenance, very durable and doesn’t get too hot in the West Coast sunshine. Even if you aren’t in California, Redwood decking is a great choice that will turn your deck into a statement piece. Over time, the boards won’t warp or shrink as much as other softwoods because Redwood will absorb the moisture, allowing the planks to stay in place for a longer period of time. Redwood offers a unique color choice and durability while keeping your feet cool during the hotter months.
Treated Yellow Pine
This is one of the most common choices for decking — and for good reason. It's cost-effective, easy to work with and will last for many years to come. The light coloring keeps the temperature down when the sun has been shining during the day. Since it's treated, your deck will be resistant to rot, insects and fungal decay. Treated Pine decking is a great softwood option that will stay cool if you're looking for something more budget-friendly than Ipe or even Cedar.
What About Composite Decking?
Generally speaking, composites are going to be hotter to the touch during the summer because of the material they're made of. However, that doesn’t mean composite decking won’t work if you live in a hotter climate. One advantage composites have over wood is they cool off at a faster rate once in the shade. We suggest taking home samples of a few different color choices and laying them outside where your deck will be. During the hottest part of the day do a “heat test” and determine if the color/material is bearable to stand on. This is a good thing to try for any type of decking. If you want composite decking that will stay cooler, start with lighter colors because they will absorb less heat.
To truly find out what is too hot to handle when it comes to your new deck, we highly recommend taking a few test boards home during the hotter days and figuring out what material doesn't get too hot. While there are several other factors that come into play when choosing your decking material, it’s crucial to rule out the options that will simply be too hot to walk on during July and August. Overall, it's important to choose the decking material that works well for your budget, style preferences and practical needs so you will be able to enjoy it for many years to come.