What to Know Before Building a Deck During the Lumber Shortage
Wood prices are sky-high. Should you choose an alternative like Trex or Azek instead?
Spring is a popular time to build or replace a deck. But a lumber shortage is dramatically altering the decking landscape.
- A national shortage of lumber has driven up costs for decking by as much as 150 percent in the past year.
- It is now significantly more expensive to build anything that uses wood, including traditional decks. More than half of all decks built in America are wood.
- Alternative materials, such as aluminum and composite decking, which are typically priced at a high premium over wood, are now more viable options, even if they’re still more expensive. Bear in mind that many decking alternatives still typically use wood for framing.
- Consumer Reports has 22 varieties of decking currently in testing, with full results available in the coming weeks.
- CR members can access our current decking ratings for partial test results, or use our decking buying guide for in-depth information about the different types of decking.
If you’re planning on building an outdoor deck this year, brace yourself. A national lumber shortage has sent material prices through the roof and made wood difficult, if not impossible, to find in some regions.
We’ve been tracking the shortage since last summer, when a perfect storm of surging demand, supply chain disruptions, and reduced availability set off the biggest price jump ever recorded. Surging lumber costs might make composite and other alternative decking materials—normally far more expensive because they last longer—more appealing.
In short, homeowners who previously would’ve passed over alternative decking, or may have even started their project with the intention of using wood, are giving alternatives a second look, either because the price gap has narrowed, or simply because it’s what’s available.