Composite Decks and Cedar Decks

April is deck month, and it’s the best time to either have a new composite deck built, or look into re-surfacing the existing one. This month’s newsletter will focus on decks; what is a composite deck? How much do they cost compared to a traditional cedar? Pros and cons; why would you ever pay more for a composite deck? We will be reviewing the answer to all of those questions and more in this month’s edition of our news letter.

What is a composite deck?

Composite decking has come a long way in just a few short years, and as usual it’s gotten more expensive. There are two types of composite decking, traditional composite and PVC extruded composite. Traditional composite is a mixture of wood fiber and plastic resin mixed together to create a piece of decking. PVC extruded decking is the newer type which is mostly all PVC material “extruded” or pulled thru a machine to create decking. Different manufacturers have different methods on how they create their product, but that is the long and short of it.

Composite vs. Wood ($$)

No question about it, composite is more expensive than wood, question is…. How long are you going to be in the home?? Now we’re talking maintenance. Are you going to pay someone $300-$400 every two years to stain and seal wood? I’ll leave that math up to you, but here’s the skinny on pricing, composite vs. wood.

  • Cedar decking – $1.25/ft
  • Typical composite decking – $2.75/ft
  • High end composite decking – $4.75/ft

Contact Barker & Son – Design, Construction and Outdoor Living for a free consultation on your new deck.

Performance

Why would you even THINK about paying an extra $3/ft for composite decking???? Well, here are just a few reasons to consider;

  1. Sun fade and general weather resistance
  2. Stain, scratch, insect, mold issues
  3. Split, crack, peel, cup, warp, shrinkage issues
  4. Shrinkage, structural, decay factors

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to consider a good decking and rail solution. To keep it short and simple, the higher end PVC products (Timber Tech, Azek, Fiberon) are going to perform high in the sun fade, scratch, weather, mold, insect, stain, split, crack, peel resistance area. That’s why they’re more expensive. The down side to the 100% PVC product is that it does shrink and move a little more than the other composites. The PVC material will be mostly maintenance free, which is what you pay for, and it should last a lifetime. The lower level composites will have sun fade, scratch, and stain issues. If structural integrity is a concern, most composites do not have it, 16” centers on joists are the max span. Wood obviously has mold, insect, crack, peel, cup, warp and general weather concerns. In summary, you gotta pick your poison.

Timber Tech – This product seems to be the priciest of all, but it also seems to have the most selection when it comes to colors, rail systems, decking products, etc. Timber Tech’s (XLM) product is the high end PVC extruded product, which costs about $4.75/ft. The other series of decking called (Evolutions) is a PVC “wrap” product ($3.20/ft), which means it is a composite fiber board, with a blanket of PVC formed around it. This product can be side-clipped to the frame. Review this product and it’s colors at the bottom of our composite deck page.

Trex – Trex has a composite and a PVC blanket product. There isn’t a whole lot of difference in the price, the PVC is about $3.60/ft and the composite is only a little cheaper than that. This product does have a more pronounced wood grain than the others. This product can be side-clipped to the frame.

Azek – This product is a top of the line PVC wrap, comes in quite a few colors but it must be screwed down thru the top, there are no side clips for the product. It runs about $4.50/ft and it does have some expansion issues, but nothing dramatic. Review this product at the bottom of our deck page http://www.barkerconstruct.com/fences-and-decks.htm

Fiberon – This is another top of the line product and the distinguishing feature of this product is a color and style called Ipe, pronounced “eepaa”. It has a very distinctive exotic wood grain look that is absolutely beautiful when installed. It runs about $3.70/ft and it can be installed using the side clips.

Evergrain – This product will be at the bottom of the totem pole as far as cost and performance, but that’s not to say it won’t do a good job. It will stain, it will scratch, will fade a little bit, but it is a composite board and it will not rot, it will be there forever. This product must be screwed down thru the top. Again, just gotta pick your poison.

Free Deck Analysis – Another hard winter and the deck has taken a good pounding from the elements. Right now is a good time to get a deck checkup, which includes checking out the frame and structural stability of the deck, reviewing what shape the rails and decking are in, and making a decision on whether to replace the decking with wood or a composite material. Give us a call (314-210-5472), or sign-on to request a free estimate today!

April is deck month at Barker & Son Construction, and if you sign a contract before 4/5/2011, receive $400 off on a composite deck or $300 off on a cedar or wood deck. No time like the present, give us a call at 314-210-5472 or sign-on to request a free estimate today!

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