What type of backyard decking material is best for increasing my home value?

Back yard house exterior with spacious wooden deck

Dear Dave,

We have been considering a deck makeover and are undecided about what type of material to use for our decking. We really have no intentions of moving, however always have the “what would be best if we did have to sell?” mentality when making home improvements.What are your thoughts on composite deck material, like Trex, versus a standard redwood or natural wood decking material? I want something that is going to last, add value to my home and stand up to kids and dogs. I am leaning towards a Trex type decking, but it seems to cost a lot more.

Thanks for the help!
Joel - Orchard Mesa, CO


Joel,

Good question and paying attention to your outdoor living space is VERY smart. It is nice you can make this decision based on what you want and not have to make the decision based solely on what the monetary return will be. Since you are going to keep living there, then the return on your investment is not paramount and getting what you want becomes a larger part of the equation. Outdoor living space has become increasingly important and buyers will absolutely pay more money for a home if the outdoor living area is top notch and dialed in! Decks can be an awesome feature on any home, especially in Western Colorado where we enjoy over 300 days a year of sunshine. A deck can also be a huge liability to any home if it is in disrepair or in bad need of a major overhaul. Much of your decision should be based on your home's setting, price range, and your budget.

What do I mean by your setting? Your home's setting is a crucial part of deciding how far to take this endeavor. If you back up to wonderful views, a private field, the Gunnison River or Valley floor, then spending extra money will pay off and might pay off in a big way. If you have a special setting then the value of an awesome outdoor living area takes on a higher value and will become a significant selling feature in the eyes of future buyers. In turn, if you are located in a typical neighborhood setting with smaller yards and rows of fence line, then the importance of the material is less important as you are not really capitalizing on a special setting. The location of the deck on your home is also a major player in this decision. How does the deck layout in reference to the rest of your home's living space? If you have a large deck that extends from your kitchen/eating or main living room and is easily usable in the day to day and for entertaining, then the importance is heightened. If, for instance, your deck is off the side of your home and accessible only through the office then the importance is significantly diminished and I would suggest finding another feature to highlight.  

The price point of your home is also a major player in the decision-making process. The higher the home value, the more likely the extra cost of Trex decking or more exotic natural wood will be appreciated.

The price point of your home is also a major player in the decision-making process. The higher the home value, the more likely the extra cost of Trex decking or more exotic natural wood will be appreciated. I have seen some amazing exotic wood and Trex wood decks that were no doubt a serious selling feature and were significant value ads, especially for those who live and covet the outdoor lifestyle. The one thing you do not want to do is overbuild or over-improve your home and the value of homes in your neighborhood. If you add a $10k deck to a $160,000 home it is not as likely you will get all that money back. In turn, if you add a $25k deck to a $400,000 home there is a good chance you can recover those costs.  

The bottom line is this, if you are looking for durability, low maintenance and can afford the larger investment then I would go with a high-quality TREX type product. Be careful of going with a copycat product, not all composite decking is created equal. If you are looking for a more budget friendly option, go with natural wood, Cedar is a wonderful choice, but expensive. Consider treating it with water seal every year or two to ensure it looks great for years to come and does not become a maintenance issue. Even if you go with a pressure treated natural wood deck and keep it maintained it will look great and last for years. You don’t have to go expensive to be fabulous, but you will have to maintain it. I hope you love your new deck and it provides incredible memories for years to come!

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

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