Any experience with aluminum decking?

dmnmnkyApril 26, 2009

We're considering one of the watertight aluminum decking products (LockDry, Last-Deck, AridDek or Versadeck) for our deck re-build. Has anyone built or seen a deck that uses one of these products?

I searched previous posts, and saw two threads from last year where several people were considering aluminum. Did anyone install it? Can you comment on your experience?

(Quick description of our project: 2nd story deck; need dry storage below; lots of moisture, shade and tree litter, so need as bulletproof a surface as possible.)

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Sorry, haven't been on this forum in quite a while and I just saw your posting. I originally posted about looking into aluminum decking last July but we didn't order any until just recently (we were waiting until we received permits for our new room addition).

LockDry is designed to be waterproof and to be used for 2nd story decking. However, we are going to use it for 1st floor decking not 2nd floor (we don't have a 2nd floor).

We have ordered the LockDry decking and Railing. We expect that it will be shipped this week and we should receive it sometime next week! We are putting Lockdry decking on our new screened-in deck and their new product -NextDeck - on the new connecting path to our old deck, also we are replacing the wood on our old deck with their new NextDeck product.

On the enclosed screened-in porch we decided on the LockDry waterproof decking to eliminate any bugs coming up from beneath, however on the path and old deck we decided to go with their new NextDeck product because the path and old deck are out in the weather and we don't need them to be waterproofed.

We had LockDry and Last-Deck send us samples of their products. Last-Deck had more color samples but I had two issues with their products. When you connect the Last-Deck waterproof decking together there is about a 1/4 inch divet between each plank, we thought that over time that divet would collect pine needles and debris and would become soiled and dis-colored. I wanted easy care decking - just spray it off ocassionally or mop it - I don't want to contend with scrubbing out the little divet between each board.or spending extra effort sweeping out any debis in the divet. We are getting older and I don't want to worry about the deck when i'm in my 70s LOL.

The second issue is that there are two grades of Last-deck. Their waterproof grade decking is the same thickness (and one would assume strength) as the LockDry decking, however the non-waterproof grade is half the thickness of their own waterproof grade (and LockDry's). Since we are putting in both the LockDry waterproof decking and their new non-waterproof product (NextDeck) on the path and old deck we felt that it was an important feature that both are the same thickness and strength, the only difference between the LockDry waterproof decking and their NextDeck decking is that they don't connect the same way. I had to actually speak with a salesperson at both Last-Deck and at LockDry in order to learn about the grade, weight and thickness of both the waterproof and non-waterproof decking materials.

Oh yes, I also wanted to mention that the LockDry waterproof decking was top-rated by Consumer Reports in their July 2008 issue. That was what originally started us thinking about LockDry and in checking out other companies like Last-Deck as well.

The aluminum decking is expensive but I plan on only doing this just once and the easy care of the decking is a big plus. We did get a discount on their decking and railing due to an unadvertised sale, make sure you ask if there are any special sales on the decking and railing since they don't put the sales on their website.

Hope all of this helps!!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 9:53AM
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Doesn't it get VERY HOT?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 8:06PM
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Many of my questions concerning aluminum decking were answered by my contacting actual owners of the aluminum decking. I asked for referrals of people who owned the product and I contacted them. All of them said that the decking didn't get very hot, that it was comparable to wood decking.

The LockDry website has a FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions area, this is what they say:

10: How hot does the surface get in the sun?
LockDry Decking stays cooler than wood or concrete. Our powder-coat finish reflects heat combined with the heat dissipation properties of aluminum. It is recommended to have adequate air flow under the decking for maximum heat dissipation.

11: How well does it hold up in very hot and cold climates?
LockDry® Decking is one of the most durable decking products available. Because of LockDry's aluminum construction, it is able to withstand extreme heat and cold. Aluminum has a working temperature of -400 to 400 degrees F. It is completely fire proof and has a melting point over 1200 degrees. It will not freeze and crack because aluminum does not absorb water. It also has very low expansion and contraction characteristics because of the lack of water absorption and powder coat finish.

After speaking with actual owners, the company and doing research about aluminum decking both on the web and with the highest Consumer Reports rating (July 2008) we have decided to take the chance and install it.

After the job is done I will report back on it!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 8:32AM
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I'd go visit one on site on a hot sunny day. "stays cooler" isn't good enough for me. All my years have taught me if you touch metal in the sun it's gonna be HOT.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 7:52AM
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shiane - Thanks for all the great information! I've been researching decking for awhile now and really think that aluminum best fits our needs, but wanted to hear from someone with first-hand experience. And what a smart idea about asking for referrals to owners of LockDry/Last-Deck decks--that never occurred to me!

Like you, we narrowed the choices down to LockDry and Last-Deck (the waterproof grade). We like the "plank" look of the Last-Deck (created by that divot you mentioned), but also worry about the divot collecting fir needles, etc., especially where it meets the edge trim. The LockDry doesn't look like it will have that problem.

Please keep us updated on your project--I look forward to hearing what you think of both the decking and railing!

srercrcr - I'm not too worried about it getting very hot. My parents have a boat with aluminum railings, and even after hours in direct sun, the railings are just warm to the touch.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 8:01PM
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This is such a spam Job, I love these Guys!!

Never stop pitching,the Folks over here are easy. J

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 8:43PM
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john - I'm a real person, just looking for some real, first-hand information. I've read through these boards and know that you prefer the S. American hardwoods, and we are keeping that option in mind. But in this thread, I was hoping to get more information on aluminum decking. Do you have some specific experience with either LockDry or Last-Deck that you'd like to share?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2009 at 12:12PM
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Dmm, there is no way alum is warm to the touch exposed to the sun give me a break you sounded like a sales rep with that stuff.Looked like you and shi were hooked up trols.

My experience with the alum decking is going out on service calls with the Wallet wondering how to fix it. Way to maney ways for it to leak with a 6'' go around, expansion and contraction adds to the problem plus any little mistake during install plus the inflexabality for all jobs, plus the gutter system, plus...well hell you get the idea. When you see Next Generation in a sales pitch that means the first few thousand Wallets were test areas.

Forget About It, or pay the major bucks and belive the hipe. JonMon

    Bookmark   July 7, 2009 at 5:57PM
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john - Thanks for your input about problems you've seen with aluminum decking. First-hand info is what I hoped to get when I started this thread.

As for my statement about aluminum boat railings being only warm in direct sun, I assure you it's true and not some sales pitch. My parents have had a SunTracker pontoon boat for 20+ years. We've fished, swam, picnicked and (when I was younger and lighter, LOL!) waterskiied off that boat. In all that time, no one has ever been burnt or even slightly singed by the aluminum railings and gates, despite hours in the sun. (The vinyl seats, on the other hand--ouch!)

I made no claims for aluminum decking, only surmised that it might be similar. It might get blistering hot or it might not--I won't really know until I can see an aluminum deck in person or talk with someone who owns one.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2009 at 4:14PM
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Recently I have received some inquiries about our LockDry deck that I wrote about last year. So, I thought that I would give an update. We also installed the LockDry aluminum railings around the decks. Installing the railings was the hardest job and most time consuming but they are very sturdy and look terrific.

On our small enclosed screened-in porch we installed the LockDry waterproof decking to eliminate any bugs coming up from beneath and we have an indoor/outdoor area rug on top. The screened-in porch is delightful and bug-free! LOL.

We replaced the wood on our old deck with the new NextDeck product from LockDry since we didn't need the waterproof aspect on our outdoor deck. The Nextdeck is about $2 per linear foot cheaper than the Lockdry and is the same weight and grade as the original Lockdry decking. The only difference is that it is not waterproof since there are spaces between each plank.

One important suggestion that I have is to make sure that after you take the old wood deck off that the framework is level -- check various areas with a long level and shore up any areas that are not level. Of course this would be an important step when replacing the top of any deck.

I wanted to compare the temperature of the LockDry aluminum decking with our old wood deck because many people have said that the aluminum decking would be HOT and so (even though the company said it wouldn't be) I wanted to see for myself. So, when we had the new aluminum decking on the new construction done and still had our old wood deck in place (they were side-by-side), I felt the NextDeck aluminum decking and our old wood decking while both were in the blazing sun. The NextDeck aluminum decking was about the same temperature as the wood decking, both were quite warm but not unbearable. It was a relief to find out that the aluminum decking and the wood decking were about the same temperature.

Some people have asked if we have had any issues about the aluminum decking expanding and contracting with the cold weather. Well, we just came through our first cold winter (we live in New York State) and we did not have any problems, not even with lots of snow! (We certainly got more than our fair share this year!)

Another concern that I had was about how loud the aluminum decking would be when it rains, well we have had many downpours and it really isn't loud at all (what a relief!).

The sound while walking on it is slightly different than walking on wood but hardly noticeable. We have checked out the sound with my husband's hard-soled shoes and my heels, it wasn't bad at all, more noisy than soft-bottomed shoes (but that is to be expected). It's that way on wood decks as well. The sound is slightly different but not very much.

I did have them mail us some of their special spray paint to finish the bare edges of the metal when we cut them, and just to have on hand in case of any scratches, although powder-coating is supposed to be very durable.

John - I am a real person and have been a member of Gardenweb since 2002 (check my Gardenweb page). I am just trying to share my experience with aluminum decking. When we first considered LockDry it was because of the Consumer Reports report which top-rated it for decking. While I do like the look and feel of real wood I don't like the upkeep, expecially as I am getting older. I don't want to have to be power-washing and applying deck stain when I'm in my 70s and older. Being able to just hose down or occassionaly mop the deck is a blessing.

Certainly the south American hardwoods are beautiful but the upkeep isn't something that I want to have to contend with. After evaluating various decking materials we decided that we liked the sturdiness and easy care of the aluminum decking.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 6:41PM
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I'm also researching different decking options for my new house. Would you be kind enough to post some pictures of your project. It would help us a lot to see the looks of this product in a real project.
Thank you.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 12:26PM
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Sobia -- I recently had an accident and broke my ankle and injured my shoulder. I won't be able to go and take pictures for a few weeks but I will do so and will post them later (after I learn how to post pictures! LOL) In the meantime you can certainly look at the LockDry internet site for examples.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 3:37PM
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John hyatt
I've been designing and installing Lock Dry for about 15 years now and I can tell you the alum. is not hot like the plastic stuff.One deck I designed, the client used plastic on a south side deck and can't walk on it in the summer with out shoes and it's uncomfortable to set out on it because the radiant heat is unbearable. Had no problems with Lock Dry. I mainly use the product for 2nd story decks with a room below

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 8:23AM
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I know this is an old thread but I would like to know if any updated insights. I have no experience with decking but do with aluminum transport boxes for dogs and know that to be the coolest option out there with plastic the hottest.

I am trying to locate someone experienced with LockDry in my area (upstate SC) and learning a side by side with the other aluminum products. I want a dry space underneath if at all possible.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2014 at 11:14AM
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I am also trying to locate someone with LockDry experience. I would like to use this product over the finished area inside my home. I am wondering whether there are any issues with moisture or condensation causing a problem.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2014 at 12:52PM
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With aluminium deck, you can experiment or customize it with variety of colors and wood grain styles. Aluminum decking is stronger, more versatile, self-spacing and easier to install.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2014 at 6:38AM
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I am interesting as well.

    Bookmark   Yesterday at 4:39PM
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Houses14 - I got an email tonight from houzz (which took over GardenWeb) with your interest about aluminum decking. I haven't been on GardenWeb in a few years, and this is the first time since houzz took over that I have signed in.

We did install the Lock-Dry aluminum decking back in the summer of 2009 and we really enjoy it. Both our enclosed porch and the large outdoor porch still look new. The best parts are the durability and the easy care. We never have to power-wash or apply deck stain. In the beginning of summer season I use a mop bucket of water with a mild bleach and liquid dish soap solution and mop the deck with a string mop. I use the same solution to wash the rails and railing tops using a soft scrub brush (the type of brush with a handle that comes with a cheap dustpan from the Dollar Store). I rinse with a hose as I go along. The small amount of bleach doesn't hurt my flowers and roses that surround the deck at all since it is so diluted from the hose water. The rest of the summer I just hose down the porch and sometimes sweep it with a broom while wet if there are any dirty areas that need it. It is very easy care and washes up very quickly. Being able to just hose down or occassionaly mop the deck is a blessing.

People are amazed with our porch when they are visiting, they have never seen aluminum decking before. We didn't either until we decided to go for it.

As I said back in 2009, the deck is not any hotter than wood, even in the blazing sun. If I can be of any further help let me know.

    Bookmark   21 hours ago
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