Composite material or real wood for decks?
We need to replace our wood deck and have been told by two contractors that we should consider composite material.
We recently moved here from Oregon, and with our prior home my husband loved to redo our deck, re-stain, sand and refinish the wood annually. I am saying it is time to relax and enjoy our new home and area and stop with the refinishing.
We have been looking at composite material, and my husband suggested we ask Sandy to see what she thinks. Help. — Barbara and Dick, Prescott
I, personally, love composite deck material. There are some great products on the market, and here are some of the benefits of using composite deck boards in your outdoor space:
• The boards never have to be sealed, stained or painted;
• Composite decking is far more slip-resistant than other materials;
• Composite decking does not splinter, crack, chip or fade;
• Composite boards don’t warp or fade in the sun;
• No periodic application of deck cleaner or the refinishing required of wood decks;
• Composites won’t rot and are impervious to insect attack; and
• No mold and mildew.
Years ago, composite decking was about as natural as nothing. Back then, composite deck material had no beauty, no personality, no color and no variety. Today, however, many manufacturers of composite material do an excellent job of mimicking the color and grain patterns of real wood, such as redwood, cedar and even exotic woods like Brazilian walnut and teak. Composite decking has come a long way, baby!
Trex is a well known composite material. Trex offers the beauty of wood decking without all that wood-deck maintenance. Trex decking is a high-performance, eco-friendly material that will withstand years of sun, sleet and snow and keep its rich color.
For all of us tree huggers, it’s good to know; Trex has never felled a single tree. Foxworth Galbraith Lumber — on 6 Street in Prescott — is a terrific, local resource for Trex decking.
The recycled wood in TREX decks is combined with recycled plastic film from a variety of sources, ranging from the overwrap on paper towels to dry cleaner bags, sandwich bags, newspaper sleeves and plastic shopping bags.
Here’s an interesting fact: the average, 500-square-foot composite Trex deck contains 140,000 recycled plastic bags! That makes TREX one of the largest plastic-bag recyclers in the nation. TREX saves 400 million pounds of plastic film and wood from being lost to landfills each year.
It is beautiful to be green!
There is another great composite product called Fiberon that is available in our area and installed by a local contractor, Ability Remodeling and Home Services.
Fiberon claims that it is bulletproof and easy to install. Fiberon is also an American company, and its composite decking is made in either of its two locations, North Carolina, where the company was founded, or at its facility in Idaho.
As with the Trex products, Fiberon is made from recycled materials. Fiberon each year diverts more than 60,000 tons of wood and plastics from landfills and incinerators for recycling by Fiberon.
The Fiberon product is free of harmful chemicals, produced using sustainable processes, and it contributes toward LEED points and other green-building rating systems. Plus, Fiberon has a closed-loop water cooling system for zero water discharge, and the company recovers 98.5 percent of the waste materials it generates. These practices were recognized by Green Builder magazine, which, in 2015, named Fiberon an “Eco-leader.”
Decking has become an industry valued at more than a $9 billion and growing.
A little history on decking: the original decking material was just plain old wood, and homes had covered porches with painted wood. In the 1950s, sun decks became popular, but with exposure to the sun came deck-maintenance requirements. That maintenance often depended on toxic solvents, paints, stains and sealers. By now, decks have evolved to include greener, eco-friendly materials.
If cost is not a factor, the greenest decking is a plantation-grown wood that is naturally resistant to rot and bugs and does not need further preservative treatment. Eco-friendly decking includes black locust or tamarack or domestic and tropical woods (redwood and teak) and all are certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council. It’s an international nonprofit, established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. The Council also certifies and labels forest products that it has determined to be eco-friendly.
Many homeowners are weary of deck maintenance and want to “set-it and forget-it.” Composite decking material meets that requirement. Nowadays, we want our decking to last for many years without maintenance. If you are weary of deck maintenance, as I am -- I call myself the “set-it-and-forget-it” generation -- composite deck material is the way to go.
Meanwhile, I hope to see you at the home show next weekend – Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 18, 19 and 20 – at the Prescott Valley Event Center, 3201 N. Main St. Don’t miss it! I would love to meet you there.
Remember to tune in to YCCA’s “Hammer Time,” played twice each weekend, Saturday and Sunday mornings at 7 a.m. on KQNA 1130 AM, 99.9 FM and 95.5 FM or the web kqna.com. Sandy and Mike talk about the construction industry and your local community partners and contractors.