When you are looking to upgrade or build a deck, there are many types of materials you can use.
One of the lesser known and less popular materials is aluminum.
Aluminum is growing in popularity as people learn more about it and start to enjoy its benefits.
Figuring out if aluminum decking is right for you and your home can be a challenge.
With a lot of conflicting information and various brands claiming to be the best, it is difficult to know which side is up.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about aluminum and its uses as a decking material.
Best Aluminum Deck Brands
- 1 Best Aluminum Deck Brands
- 2 What is Aluminum Decking?
- 3 Buyer’s Guide: Shopping for Aluminum Decking
- 4 Top Aluminum Decking Brand Reviews
- 5 Aluminum Decking Price Chart
- 6 Aluminum Decking Pros and Cons
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 Conclusion
Not all brands are creating high quality aluminum decking. And while there may be several out there that are good enough, these are the best of the best.
- VersaDeck Aluminum Decking. Multiple styles, wide array of colors and a build-a-deck system for the more adventurous has VersaDeck at the top of many lists.
- Nexan Aluminum Planks and Boards. Offering two line ups and multiple colors,plus direct to public sales, makes Nexan popular for most DIYers.
- Wahoo Aluminum Decks. Do one thing and do it well. Wahoo only manufactures and produces aluminum decking, and yes, they do it well.
- Knotwood Aluminum Decking and Supplies. Versatility, more realism and more colors than anyone else, Knotwood will surprise and please you.
What is Aluminum Decking?
Aluminum decking, as the name implies, is a decking material that is made from aluminum. The boards and planks are fashioned from premium industrial aluminum. This gives the decking a thick, durable and sturdy surface that is impermeable by water, pests and other common decking issues.
The decking material is treated, heated, powder coated and colored to give you designs, wood grains, vibrant colors and even patterns. Aluminum decking is also easy to install, an be waterproof, and will last a virtual lifetime.
While the niche market is still growing and prices are higher than every other decking material option, aluminum has its place, and it is well deserved.
Buyer’s Guide: Shopping for Aluminum Decking
When looking at aluminum boards you have two basic options, standard boards and waterproof options. While all aluminum is water-resistant, the waterproof design deals with allowing water through the decking or not.
The boards themselves are 6-inches wide and come in lengths between 12 and 20 feet (in 2-in increments). You can special order different sizes and some brands will carry odd widths and lengths to help you get a desired look or pattern without extra cutting.
One of the biggest draws for aluminum decks is their ability to withstand rain and water. Living in an area with a high rain-day count, you may be more inclined to look at aluminum over other materials. However, waterproof decking interlocks, becomes seamless and doesn’t allow water to pass through to the ground below.
Almost all aluminum decking is finished the same way. After the aluminum cores are extruded through the die, they are powder coated. The powder coat is generally done in two layers (though sometimes only once and other times more than 3 times), which adds water resistance, scratch resistance and color to the planks.
Oftentimes, the higher end brands will use a polyurea elastomer powder coat to finish it off. This added UV protection, superior fade resistance and even added texture and grip.
As a DIY project, aluminum decking isn’t much more difficult than other decking materials. The hardest part is cutting the aluminum to size. You will need a carbide tipped saw blade and a lot of patience.
Securing the planks is easy enough with decking screws or machine screws. The hidden fasteners latch together and hide the screws when the project is complete. You should frame your deck with pressure treated lumber for a solid base and keep joists to 16 inch spacing.
Beyond that the project can take as little or as long as the size and design or pattern you create dictates.
If you don’t have the time, tools, know-how or desire to build the deck yourself, you can hire a professional. The labor costs are about the same as with composite decking and hardwood deck installs.
Use our Pro Finder to locate highly qualified contractors in your area. You get instant results and will be able to call for estimates and quotes today. Best of all, it is free and you get local results, fast.
Price and Warranty
Aluminum decking is among the most expensive decking materials there are. However, the price can be offset by using the basic boards instead of waterproof systems, and will be determined by the size of the deck.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that aluminum decking is virtually maintenance free, and will last a lifetime. The initial cost will take between 10 and 15 years to pay off, but it will do so in no maintenance fees, no need to buy sealants, use labor or hire professionals for treatments and it doesn’t need additional coatings, UV protection or pest control.
Top Aluminum Decking Brand Reviews
VersaDeck is a premium aluminum decking brand. They have a world-class warranty and a dedication to providing only the highest quality aluminum decking possible.
Their polyurea powder coating gives a more natural look, solid color without fading and is up to 25 times thicker than their competitors. The coated aluminum actually dissipates heat fast and is almost always cool to the touch.
You can choose from 8 different colors and three styles. VersaDeck is also one of the leaders in build-a-deck kits. They have complete prints, designs and materials for one price, delivered right to you.
All fasteners are included and you can get the boards in R-40 basic plank, R-40 modular plank or waterproof design. All feature a hidden fastener system so you never see a screw and the top surface remains flat and sturdy.
Their warranty may be one of the best in the industry though. All decking comes with a 15-year color protection guarantee. The standard decks also have a 25-year warranty. What makes it the best, though, is that as long as you purchase any of the thicker (non-standard) coated decks, the warranty is lifetime and it can be transferred.
If you plan to stay in your home for a while, but not forever, this lifetime warranty can transfer once to the new homeowner ($500 one-time fee) and the lifetime promise will continue. Note that the 15-year color guarantee stays at 15 years from original purchase.
Nexan is another premium brand that offers a revolving color option. Their warranty is also great and the aluminum is split into two options, waterproof or basic. Known as LockDry and NextDeck (respectively), you can have elevated patios, decks and waterproof designs, or a more affordable, standard deck.
Both options come in Dakota Wood Grain pattern options or you can choose from one of four colors (NextDeck) or 6 colors (LockDry). Note, though, that these colors do change and some are being discontinued so new colors can be brought in.
While the color options may not always be the same, the older colors or discontinued options may be much more difficult to find.
All of the Nexan aluminum decking comes with a lifetime warranty, though it isn’t transferable. You also get plenty of weight limits, too. LockDry will withstand up to 290 pounds per square foot, while the basic NextDeck can hold up to 550 pounds per square foot.
The one downside is that Nexan is among the highest priced aluminum decking bands, in an already higher priced market. They also do not offer a build kit for pre-made deck designs.
If you are going to do something, do it well. That is the motto (we assume) of Wahoo decking. Their attention to detail and full-system designs will make you wonder why the other brands even try.
The AridDek system is designed to look good, last forever and drain with little fuss. It is a waterproof system that uses a joist draining set up keeping your under-deck area completely dry at all times.
If you need railings, they have those, too, along with the decks, boards, and even glass. Everything you could ever need to build the deck of your dreams in one place. On top of all that, they use marine grade extruded aluminum and you can order lengths up to 36 feet.
Of course, the decking comes with a lifetime warranty, and you won’t have to worry about installation steps or procedures. Every purchase comes with complete instructions and there are step by step videos you can watch, too.
There is a downside, though, and that is in the color selection. Currently, Wahoo only offers their AridDek in three color options, sandstone, granite or artisan clay.
Knotwood is a little newer to the industry than the other brands and is making a huge name for themselves. Along with the lifetime warranty that you get, Knotwood offers you the largest selection of colors, and you can special order for other options if needed.
As their name implies, they make their aluminum to mimic wood grain patterns to look more like a wood deck. You get the warmth and feel of wood with the benefits of low maintenance lifetime aluminum.
Where they do stand out, though is in their color options. You can select from either solid powder coated finish or wood grain colors. The powder coat option gives you special order abilities and 12 standard colors to choose from.
If you decide to go with the wood grain, you have 38 options to select. This is more than any other brand on the market and Knotwood is adding more colors all the time.
For a timeless finish, durability and waterproof installation, Knotwood is a brand worth investigating further. However, they do a lot of other things with aluminum and unlike our other brands here, their focus is not just on decking.
The downside is that orders may be delayed depending on the size of the order and color chosen.
Aluminum Decking Price Chart
Aluminum decking is sold by the board, by the linear foot and as a whole project, complete with fasteners, blueprints and designs. You also need to consider board length, extra materials and unexpected fees or costs. Here is a breakdown of average costs for materials for a complete decking project.
|Aluminum Board||Per linear foot||$6 – $30|
|Fasteners||100 square feet coverage||$50 – $75|
|Framing||Pressure treated lumber (per sq ft)||$15 – $25|
|Saw blades||Carbide tipped circular saw||$20 – $35 each|
|Decking Kits||Complete build||$10,000 – $30,000|
|Installation Labor||Per sq ft||$5 – $10|
|Materials||(joists, additional beams, brackets, etc.)||$15 – $25 per sq ft.|
Aluminum Decking Pros and Cons
Aluminum decking has a lot going for it. It is a popular choice among those that know about it and can overlook the downsides. Let’s look at both the good and the bad, now.
- Stays cool and dissipates heat on hot days.
- Lasts almost forever.
- Doesn’t warp, crack or splinter.
- Powder coating is UV resistant and adds texture and grip.
- Will not mold, mildew or attract pests.
- Highly stain resistant.
- Doesn’t burn (Class A rating).
- Extremely low maintenance.
- Can be recycled.
- Higher initial cost (per board and per project) than almost every other decking option.
- Limited color options per brand.
- Not readily available in all regions.
- Can be loud or squeaky if installed incorrectly.
- Must use carbide saw to cut pieces.
- Ideal for regions with a lot of rain.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here, we will answer some of the more common questions about aluminum decking. If you have other questions, don’t be afraid to ask in the comment section below the article.
Q. Is aluminum decking worth the cost?
- If you live in an area with a lot of rain, don’t want to do a lot of annual maintenance and will be living in your home for at least 10 to 15 more years, then the answer is a resounding yes. It is a heavy investment, but with little to no cleaning or maintenance required, it will pay for itself in about 15 years.
Q. Is an aluminum deck lighter than wood?
- Aluminum decking isn’t the light aluminum from your soda cans. However, it is lighter than most woods, composites and other decking materials (aside from maybe PVC). When all is said and done, a standard aluminum plank is about half the weight of hardwoods and composite boards.
Q. Will aluminum scratch or dent?
- Aluminum decking is resilient to scratches and the powder coating also adds a layer of extra protection. However, pets can leave marks if you aren’t careful. Denting and damage can be caused by excessive hail, but no more than a wooden deck would be dented or cracked from the same type of elements.
Q. Does aluminum decking need to slope?
- Yes. When you are installing your decking, it will need a slope of about 1/8 per linear foot. This will allow water, rain and other debris to fall off naturally without causing you to feel like you are walking on an incline.
Q. Where is aluminum deck material sold?
- Most high quality manufacturers sell directly to the public. Either through your contracted installer or buying directly you can get the best deals. Some home improvement and hardware shops may carry aluminum decking, but it isn’t going to be the high quality brands and you may end up paying even more for lower quality boards.
Aluminum decking isn’t for everyone. It is ideal for rainy areas and for those with a larger budget. It is among the most expensive decking materials out there, but the trade off is near-zero maintenance and a lifetime warranty.
Not all aluminum decking is made the same, though, and lower quality brands can end up costing you a small fortune in replacement and repairs. Staying with high-quality aluminum, UV protected powder coating and a professional installation will see that your new deck lasts virtually forever.