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Thinking of Building a Deck???

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posted on May, 27 2016 @ 07:03 AM
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I wasn't sure where to put this one. I guess chit chat is as good as any. Over the past couple years we've built a couple of pretty large decks on the house. (one 20x30 and another 16x50 with 2 levels). We built the decks ourselves and along the way learned a number of things. One of the biggest questions I've gotten is about composite / engineered decking materials. Another friend is building a deck and asked me about these materials. I thought I'd share my insight to them.

A while back we were looking into possibly using some of these engineered materials for one of the decks we built. In the course of doing some research we found a place here which claims to be the US's largest supplier of engineered materials (I can't validate this other than to say they had mountains of the stuff, every manufacturer and just train loads of every size, color, texture and brand). They had done some pretty interesting experiments to show different aging effects in side by side comparisons. All the big brands were represented, along with other not so big names.

They basically built this giant boardwalk like thing made up of sections of different manufacturers and materials. The only way to get to the warehouse was down this boardwalk and it was outside in the Colorado sun (which can be brutal on materials). They were very open and objective about all the different products and didn't hawk one over another. Here's what we found...

Every single one of the brands has some serious pros and serious cons. One will excel at stiffness, but suffer with cracking. Another will be very color fast, but prone to scratching. It was amazing actually. Many of these systems had been sitting there for several years and tens of thousands of people had walked on them, driven strollers, carts and other things over them, just totally brutalized these materials. They also had a demo area where they would use hoses to simulate rain, great big heat lamps to simulate heat and even one area where they could make it cold and hot over and over to simulate thermal cycling.

The most amazing part was every one had a very negative tradeoff you had to be willing to live with to get the pro component.

The biggest things we learned was...

1. Dogs are murder on engineered deck materials. If you had dogs, they recommended wood (and they didn't sell wood).

2. Non textured materials get slippery as snot when wet. Textured materials scratch, and once scratched they can't be repaired or refinished.

3. Some materials can be treated (stained, painted, etc.), and others can't.

4. Some materials can be sanded and/or refinished. Others can't.

5. The longest lasting materials tended to be the softer / spongy-er materials (i.e. lots of spring).

6. They all fade, some faster than others.

7. (this one was interesting) Pricing for engineered materials follows the price of oil. When oil goes up, so does the price of these materials. (now would be a good time to buy).

8. Kind of intuitively, harder / stiffer materials crack and split over time.

9. Heat (from the sun, etc.) has a pretty dramatic effect on all of these materials, making them softer and much springier. Some to the point of an almost unsafe feeling (no danger, just feels weird / unsettling). (Wood is kind of the opposite, and more influenced by water which these materials aren't).

Those were the big ones. No one brand stood out over another. Each had their own attributes depending on your application. The big take away for us was...ask questions, and know what your application will experience the most of and get the product best suited to that.

Hope it helps!



edit on 5/27/2016 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)




posted on May, 27 2016 @ 07:14 AM
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The price for composite decking on the East Coast of Canada is currently 41 dollars per 12' board average retail.

The price of 5/4" treated decking is about 70 cents per foot.

The humidity of coastal living means the composite decking market has just about died here, (It's always slippery.) with unhappy customers weighing heavily on the warranties offered by manufacturers who maybe didn't see it coming.

Kudos to your supplier for helping you weigh the options. In my opinion, there is a reason that 75%+ of new decks are still made with treated lumber or cedar/redwood.



posted on May, 27 2016 @ 07:17 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

To add, termites love wood, decay loves wood, constant maintenance, painting, cleaning between deck planks, checking for termites, treating, etc.

The composite materials follow the cost of oil because materials are made of plastic, which is made from oil. My neighbors deck is plastic, maintenance free as far as I can tell.



posted on May, 27 2016 @ 07:26 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

At a previous job one of my largest customers was Trex. The owner of our company bought some of their product at a reduced price and built a very large deck. It turned out nicely but he had constant issues with buckling, fading and scratching from his dogs. If I had a house that a deck would look good on I would opt for pressure treated lumber.





edit on 27-5-2016 by AugustusMasonicus because: Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn



posted on May, 27 2016 @ 07:37 AM
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We ultimately opted for wood as the decking surface, although the wife still loves the composite materials. Went with a 5/4 treated redwood on the back one and 1-1/2 redwood on the front.

The wood is definitely more maintenance, but in the end I believe it was the right choice for us. In some respects I still would like to use the composite materials for something in the future. I did learn a lot about them. For us, the dogs wound up being the deciding factor.



posted on May, 27 2016 @ 07:38 AM
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a reply to: AugustusMasonicus



If I had a house that a deck would look good on I would opt for pressure treated lumber.


Absolutely!

We've (UK) imported it from Norway and it's truly functional for a temperate climate. For example, we built decks for an architect in the late 90s and they're still going strong. The pressure treated material is less prone to moulds and doesn't have as many of those flaws that lead to rot in cheaper timbers.

Composite roof tiles are coming into their own and it'll happen in the decking market soon enough. With tiles, they look great and cut labour costs due to their lightness. Instead of carting concrete tiles up ladders 4-6 a time, you can carry a pack of 25 composites without sweating.



posted on May, 27 2016 @ 07:55 AM
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dogs are horrible on the prefab!! we were staying at a friends mountain house in Colorado with our dog who got excited and scratched the hell out their deck. we felt horrible.

we built a deck recently (we live in Colorado, too) with wood. i like the real wood look personally anyway but it was more a financial thing. love my deck!



posted on May, 27 2016 @ 08:38 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Great information!

For all the pros and cons, I still like real wood. Just sanded down and finished a deck that had been waiting far too long for weatherproofing and, man, it looks great! The biggest thing with wood is that it will rot and mildew. The previous owners of the house did a lame footer for the posts and they rotted out, slowing tilting the deck down until we had to rip it out and replace it (thanks to family who came to our rescue!!)

We ended up letting the new deck "rest" for waaaaay too long. Surprisingly, all the weathering/mildew cleaned right off (used a commercial deck cleaner - no bleach as it eats the wood), and the one-coat semi-transparent weathering/sealant we used was awesome. Great for those of us with very little time to DIY. It dried fast, too, which was great, so that my son with autism (who doesn't understand that the front porch can't be used - or who will forget easily), came home to a completely dry and safe deck.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom! My brother was looking into the engineered stuff for himself, but he has two big dogs. I hope he goes with wood!!

- AB



posted on May, 27 2016 @ 08:41 AM
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originally posted by: intrptr
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

To add, termites love wood, decay loves wood, constant maintenance, painting, cleaning between deck planks, checking for termites, treating, etc.

The composite materials follow the cost of oil because materials are made of plastic, which is made from oil. My neighbors deck is plastic, maintenance free as far as I can tell.



Yes - I can see that if there is a termite problem, that the engineered composites would be a great way to deal with it.
That is a major "con" of wood decking (and houses for that matter).



posted on May, 27 2016 @ 08:57 AM
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Biggest problem here. The decks are older, plagued by dry rot and termites. They are small but expen$ive to replace.

Cost of contractors that know what they are doing, demolition, redwood, double priming, painting prior to installation of every board and railing…. 15000, USD.

Insanity, cubed. Plastic materials need no priming or painting or maintenance. 5000, USD.



posted on May, 27 2016 @ 09:02 AM
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a reply to: intrptr

No one can claim any deck, wood or composite, is maintenance free.

Also, I think your cost are off, in my area, anyways.



posted on May, 27 2016 @ 09:25 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

That place sounds awesome! I have future plans to tear down our decks and rebuild them. I'd thought about composite, but then realized the lumber decks which the previous owner did absolutely nothing to maintain for 20+ years is still in (fairly) good shape - and costs a lot less. Still, I like the idea of the uniformity and lack of potential splinters. I'd love to check this place out if I get the chance (would have to be a stop during a CO vacation, not a special trip.) Cool info, thanks



posted on May, 27 2016 @ 10:23 AM
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a reply to: AboveBoard

I agree with wood being the best. When I lived in NJ, we used IPE when we rebuilt our deck. It's a nice Central/South American wood, extremely hard but also very difficult to work with.



posted on May, 27 2016 @ 10:41 AM
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originally posted by: Atsbhct
a reply to: intrptr

No one can claim any deck, wood or composite, is maintenance free.

Also, I think your cost are off, in my area, anyways.


But just to nitpick on your part, yes they are…. comparatively speaking, they are maintenance free. If you've owned an older deck you'd know. Costs her are most expensive, for anything. The deck estimates are ones my neighbors and I have both looked into.



posted on May, 27 2016 @ 11:16 AM
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Here is my project in progress this summer went with wood also



files.abovetopsecret.com...



posted on May, 27 2016 @ 12:12 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk
There's nothing like a good deck. You might want some of this if you have wood:

Pun not intended (or was it?)



posted on May, 27 2016 @ 02:29 PM
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Yeah, composites are sketchy. To much thermal expansion and finish issues, as well as warping.

The markup from recycled plastic bottles is astronomical.

If I want a good deck, I build the frame out of pt lumber, the decking and railing out of cedar.

Sometimes pt decking, then cedar railings to save money,

..still looks good.

Then I use metal designer balusters, tempered glass, or ss tension cables if the view is good.

edit on 5 by Mandroid7 because: suasagefingertphonetyporepairjob




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