Best Decking Materials for Rooftop Decks

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Rooftop decks are a great way to enjoy the outdoors. You have a great view, far above the maddening crowd. On a flat roof, you can create an extended living area over your home that adds enjoyment and value. There are lots of decking material options to consider for a rooftop or balcony deck. What’s best for you?


Rooftop decks come in all shapes, sizes and decking material options. Ipe hardwood decking in New York


First, Plan your Rooftop Deck Carefully

Safety first, fun second. Before considering any rooftop or balcony deck, have a professional architect or engineer evaluate your existing flat roof structure. You want them on your roof. You need them on your roof. You can’t build a deck on an unstable roof.

Here are a few important points an architect or engineer will need to know:

  • Can your roof handle the additional weight of decking, furniture, and people?
  • Is your existing roof structurally sound?
  • What material is your existing flat roof made from?
  • Is there sufficient pitch and proper drainage?
  • Are rooftop decks allowed in your area?


RELATED: Building a Rooftop Deck


Rooftop Decking Material Options

Before selecting the decking material for a rooftop deck, a whole different set of rules apply up here. The weather extremes on a rooftop deck can be brutal. Decking materials that work well on a backyard deck may not work on a rooftop.

Extreme UV exposure from all day sun can ruin many decking materials. Synthetic decking materials like plastic decking and capped composite decking often perform poorly in this harsh environment.


The basic decking material options are synthetic turf, rubber tiles, concrete pavers, stone pavers, porcelain tile pavers, synthetic decking, and real wood decking. Wood decking options include wooden deck tiles or full lengths of decking boards, depending on your deck frame. Here’s a quick look at all the rooftop deck material options.


Synthetic Turf or Rubber Tiles

Assuming your existing roof structure meets all the engineering criteria and is up to the task, putting synthetic turf on a rooftop deck can be a quick, inexpensive, and easy fix. Artificial grass is usually applied directly over the membrane of your existing roof. Other installation methods are available.

Rubber roof tiles are another inexpensive option that normally install directly over your existing roof structure. The same rules apply – your existing roof must be structurally sound and suitable for this type of rooftop material.


Stone or Concrete Deck Pavers

Just like a backyard patio, concrete pavers or stone pavers can take the extreme weather on a rooftop patio deck. The big difference is the extreme weight load on a roof. Can your existing roof frame handle the weight?

If the pavers are too heavy, structural changes to your roof frame may be needed, major reconstruction may be required. If your total roof deck project budget can't support the additional expense of rebuilding the roof, the cost may be prohibitive. In that case, you may want to consider a lighter weight material.


Porcelain Tile Pavers

Porcelain tiles are an elegant looking option for a rooftop patio. They are much lighter weight than stone pavers and may be installed on lightweight aluminum framing. Porcelain pavers are available in many styles and sizes. If porcelain pavers are your choice for rooftop material, always buy from a reliable supplier. Upfront pricing may be expensive but porcelain pavers are low maintenance, and durable.


PVC Decking and Capped Composite Decking

Cellular PVC decking is not the best decking material to use on a rooftop deck. The environment up there is too punishing for plastic decking to perform at its best. PVC decking will expand in the heat, and often buckle. In cold weather, plastic decking will shrink and leave large gaps at miters and board ends.

Capped composite decking faded out quickly on rooftop

Capped composite decking looked beautiful - until it didn't. Composite decking faded out quickly. Ouch.

Like plastic decking, capped composite decking works well on lower-level backyard decks. In a punishing rooftop deck environment, however, capped composite decking does not fare as well. The UV rays from all day long solar exposure can make composite decking fade in a hurry. An experienced rooftop deck contractor will advise you to steer clear of all synthetic decking materials in rooftop deck installations.


Pressure Treated Wood Decking

Pressure treated lumber works great for deck framing components. Pressure treated decking is an inexpensive decking material. You should plan to paint or stain pressure treated decking, frequently, on a regular basis for a rooftop deck. If rooftop decking material pricing is your most important factor, pressure treated may work for you.


Hardwood decking

If you like the look of real wood decking, and have a slightly higher budget for your decking material than pressure treated decking, hardwood decking is a beautiful decking material option to consider.  High density hardwood decking can withstand the punishing weather on rooftop decks. And it is naturally beautiful.

Machiche hardwood deck

Machiche hardwood decking material on rooftop deck

Durable hardwood decking species like Ipe, Jatoba, Machiche and Garapa will last for decades. Hardwood decking features the warm, inviting appearance of natural wood. To maintain a pristine look, hardwood decking should be sealed as needed with product like Penofin hardwood formula.

vaughn machiche rooftop deck weatherd 2

Hardwood decking can be allowed to weather to a soft gray and stay strong

For a low maintenance option, hardwood decking can be allowed to weather to a silvery gray patina, without affecting its performance.

RELATED: Download "How Exterior Hardwoods Weather" guide here.

RELATED: Check out rooftop deck project galleries here.


Ipe hardwood roof decking

Ipe wood decking is considered the gold standard for long lasting, high performance, real wood decking.

Ipe rooftop deck with Eurotec Aluminum framing and adjustable pedestals

Learn more about Ipe Decking

Ipe Decking project galleries


Machiche hardwood roof decking

FSC Certified Machiche hardwood decking is a strong, beautiful, long lasting, real wood decking material option.

Machiche hardwood deck poolside-1

Machiche decking is a chocolaty brown beauty

Learn more about Machiche decking

Machiche Decking project galleries


Garapa hardwood roof decking

Garapa hardwood decking is a lighter colored, durable, affordable decking material option that is suitable for rooftop decks.

Garapa rooftop decking, benched and planters photo by Sergey Raikin-2

Garapa decking has lighter yellow tones

Learn more about Garapa decking

Garapa Decking project galleries


Jatoba hardwood roof decking

Jatoba hardwood decking is known as Brazilian Cherry. Jatoba is a pink to cherry colored, durable, decking material that works well for residential and commercial decks.

Jatoba hardwood decking non-skid and Jatoba benches

Learn more about Jatoba decking

Jatoba Decking project galleries

Interested in seeing an actual piece of decking for your rooftop deck?

Order a decking sample today.

Looking for some design inspiration for your rooftop deck?



DOWNLOAD the Rooftop Deck Design Ideas Project Portfolio today.




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