SHOP PRODUCTS
Houzz Logo Print
kitchenconfidential2

Deck- composite or not?

I know this is not technically a decorating question, but it's my favorite of the forums and gets the best response. We are redoing our deck, and I am so confused by the comments in the decking section. There Seems to be a lot of complaints about composite and I am thinking of just going with wood. Can anyone help m- Composite or not?

Comments (26)

  • 13 years ago

    I haven't looked at the decking forum, but I know that when it comes time for us to build our deck we will use composite. The maintenance on our wood deck at our old house was a nightmare. It was a small deck, but by the time you powerwash, wait for it to dry completely (praying for no rain during that time) and then stain, ugh. No fun. I have a friend with a large wood deck and he hires someone to maintain it every couple of years. I want to say that it costs thousands of dollars, but my memory could be off on this one.

    I know there are various levels of composite to look at: some are just a covering over wood, others are a mix of plastics and wood particles, and others are pure plastic-like material. That's where you'll have to do some homework to make sure you're getting the best "composite". It costs more up-front, but in the long run it may be worth it, IMO.

  • 13 years ago

    I replaced my porch deck and railings with composite. I live in the NW, in the woods, so the algae/mold was such a problem with cedar. I was disappointed to learn that composite also grows mold (it appears as black spots). The difference is it doesn't get slick when wet.

    I wish I'd done more research on which brand to select; I picked Trex because it was the biggest, oldest name brand and I figured they had perfected it. After the mold started growing, I looked around on the internet and it seems Trex is not the brand to choose.

    That said, it is much easier to clean the mold from it than it was cedar. Can't powerwash it and they recommend some special cleaners that require a certain outside temp to work (an oxy bleach type product I think). I got some but wasn't happy with it. This year I just slopped 30 Second cleaner on it, let it sit, rinsed it off and it worked great. Will have to see if it all disintegrates this winter!

    I love no splinters and especially like the railings (I did them in a tropical hardwood color that mimics new cedar). There is no way I'd go back to cedar unless I was rich enough to hire someone to maintain it for me (and I'm not).

    I had the contractor use some special kind of metal fittings that go over the cedar joists?? (is that the word?) so that when tree debris falls between the cracks of the boards it doesn't sit in there and cause rot. I was continually having to scrape junk out from between the boards of my cedar decks.

  • Related Discussions

    Using a grill mat on a composite deck

    Q

    Comments (9)
    Point well taken but what's the difference if we're talking about composite or wood? If someone wants to protect the deck surface from grease stains they'd have to take some measure anyway, regardless of what the deck is made out of. Wood will stain, fade, warp, etc. and if a mat is placed on wood, damage can occur under the mat from moisture that sneaks under---and it too will fade differently than the unprotected parts of the deck. No matter how you cut it, it's true that composite or PVC is not 100% free of maintenance. But it's also true that on average, it requires far less routine maintenance than wood does. Always comes down to what you like the look of and/or what you can afford. I happen to like both materials. I'm going to try composite for the new deck I'm having built and hope for the best. I enjoyed our last wood deck---but was a little disappointed with how quickly it weathered. In less than a year, it was showing a little too much wear and tear and splintering. It was fully functional, but deteriorating more quickly than it should have. I did have it sealed. The IPE is a different story---much richer looking and nicer, but it's not cheap and it's not maintenance free either.
    ...See More

    Best decking system (composite/PVC)?

    Q

    Comments (11)
    Hello! Thanks for considering AZEK decks! We offer free samples on the site here: https://azek.com/store/catalog-and-samples and you can learn more about our decks here: https://azek.com/products/decking  We stand by our decks with 30-year & lifetime warranties, an feel that our moisture resistant capping will keep your deck looking beautiful for as long as you own your home!
    ...See More

    redoing the deck to composite

    Q

    Comments (1)
    B;ack metal with glass panels
    ...See More

    Deck railing: composite, vinyl, wood?

    Q

    Comments (1)
    I'm sure you know and understand the difference between wood and composite, therefore If you like wood railings, go with wood and don't listen to anyone... Nothing says anywhere that wood railing cannot be used with composite decking. That said if you install railing posts behind the deck's rim-joist, this way if you or anyone down the road would like to change it to the composite railing, all you have to do is slip post-sleeves over the posts and add a composite railing. Good luck
    ...See More
  • 13 years ago

    We just did a small deck in cedar. The guy that did our deck said he had just done one in composite and found that because it has so much flex to it, he had to overbuild the supports and things like stringers and joists had to be very close together to prevent sagging. Not sure if all composite is like this or not. I would do a lot of research before deciding.

  • 13 years ago

    I think it depends on the wood and on the composite, as well as the geographical location.

    The house I grew up in has a redwood deck that is 42 years old, in great condition, and it is tongue and groove like a porch so water does lie on it (although it was re-pitched a few years ago). I think this deck will last as long as the house, even though its requires minimal maintenance.It also has a significant snow load on it several months a year. A friend of mine built an ipe deck that is spectacular and holding up very well. These were both relatively expensive but the life cycle is long.

    I would probably do a composite deck personally, after some research, or an exotic wood that is very resistant to rot, mold, and insects.(If I could afford it) I would never do a typical pressure treated deck over composite.

  • 13 years ago

    Definitely go with composite. Saves trees and it's just better. There are some great products out there and it seems that all of the hotels I stay in that have harsh summers have it. Not sure what kind but some form of it. It looks so nice maybe it's that splinter thing with people coming in from the pool and beach but it is everywhere down here in the South. It's a little more expensive but in the long run with not having to do upkeep with the pressure wash, clear coating seems like a wash to me.

  • 13 years ago

    Our cedar deck looks great after all these years, and maintenance is no big deal.

    We powerwash one day, let it dry overnight, then stain/seal the next day.
    No rot, no splinters, just a great deck.

  • 13 years ago

    I did a significant amount of research before deciding to go with solid PVC decking. I went to several contractor sites to see what they were saying to each other. I did learn that they need 12 inch centers as opposed to 16 inch - which you can do with wood. To me the ease of maintenance was the deciding factor. I also decided solid was less likely to mold than the plastic/wood composit types since mold seems more likely on those and my deck is on the north side of the house. I am in MN so the deck has to handle a massive range in temp. Good luck with your decision.

  • 13 years ago

    We went PVC on a small front porch. In back we tore off the wood and hauled in A LOT of dirt and put a raised paver patio on instead. The patio is my favorite. The front porch sounds plastic when you walk on it, but the maintenance is worth the lack of aesthetic. "Power wash one day, stain the next" no thank you. When we were in our 20's it was no big deal...in our 50's it is. Time is too short and nice days are too few in MN to waste them on deck maintenance.

  • 13 years ago

    I agree... time IS short.

    But even as we are pushing 60, 45 minutes to power wash (DH's job) and a half hour to roll on stain (my job) is NOT a big deal at all....

    Besides, he loves to fire that thing up!

  • 13 years ago

    I have had both wood and composite. Both require maintenance, but composite has less maintenance. My composite deck was made with Fiberon because that's what the construction company used.

    Azek is the big name in composite - the company that I use for repairs recommends Azek.

  • 13 years ago

    I live in WA State and we have 100% recycled plastic for our deck. I really like it. It doesn't mold, but it does get mildew on it. However, that easily comes off with a powerwashing, which we try to do yearly. If you go this route, be sure it's installed on a cooler day versus a hot one. We installed ours in the heat of summer when the plastic was completely expanded. It contracted in the winter and somehow never expanded back to its original size, so there is a bit of a gap in one area. Aside from that we love it. I have a friend who yearly has to sand and restain his wood deck, which I would HATE to do.

  • 13 years ago

    we have composite on the decking and stairs and cedar rails/posts with black powder coated spindles. had it built almost 10 years ago.

    i love the composite--it's been no maintaince and it's easy to clean. my only complaints are that it gets hot (faces south, so gets full sun) and it has faded abit. i also love the spindles---totally maintaince free.
    the cedar on the other hand has been a real problem because carpenter bees LOVE it---they have been 'digging' holes in it for the last few years---i have been filling with wood putty. we had considered epe wood when we had the deck built and i think that might have been a better choice because it is a much harder wood...

  • 13 years ago

    Thank you, everyone. This is all so helpful.

  • 13 years ago

    I don't think Azek is composite. It's cellular PVC. They are different.

  • 13 years ago

    Today we finished building our dock with Azek. In fact we had an impromptu 'dock warming' tonight with family, friends and neighbors!
    The Azek replaces a wood dock that was at least 25 years old. I will not miss the maintenance including painstaking painting with preservative every year or two.
    The new dock looks great and is so easy to clean. mimi72 is correct, Azek is not a composite. We researched it pretty carefully and decided Azek was for us.

  • 13 years ago

    We have had trex composite for approximately eleven years and have had no problems with ours. We live in the Shenandoah Valley so I don't if the area affects problems with mold but we would use it again. Hope this helps.

  • 13 years ago

    I will be replacing my wood deck either next summer or the summer after. Did a lot of reading on the different decking forums. Because I live in the ND/MN area, I need something that can withstand wide fluctuations in temperature. I will be going synthetic for ease of maintenance.

    Seems that the primary synthetic brands that receive the highest marks are Azek and Timbertech.

    The least maintenance is poly instead of composite but there are drawbacks - some creaking sounds and it is hot to walk upon.

    Ipe wood was the best to use if you want wood. It's a Brazilian hardwood, and costs more than cedar or pretreated wood.

    No one on the decking forum liked Trex. However, my carpenter brother-in-law is planning to use Trex when he replaces his deck. He likes Trex, but says that there are different levels of quality of Trex. Don't buy from big box stores because those are lower-quality "seconds."

    I'm having my front steps replaced in the next few days with Timbertech XLM, so I'll have an idea if I will like the 100% poly before I do a whole deck with it.

    So, there's my 4 cents. :-)

  • 13 years ago

    I've decided that I hate decks in general. If I could do it again I'd put down a patio of bluestone or pavers.

    We have a cedar deck at our vacation home in the PA mountains that needs to be replaced are we're trying to decide on the best material. Since it's elevated it have to keep a deck of some kind but it's a PIA to shovel when it snows.

    At our primary home we replaced an old mahogany deck with composite about 8 years ago. And when it needs replaced we're installing a patio. I'm even willing to have 2 steps down from the back door to a patio than a deck of just about any material.

  • 13 years ago

    I'm with you on hating decks. I'd much rather have a patio but it would be several steps down. If I had it to do over I would have done something in brick and stone but when we built this house it was just too much to spend with everything else going on inside the house. I hate our deck so much, it's mildewed, warped, needs to be pressure washed often and sealed. Also, in our area it seems at least once a week someone's deck has collapsed with people on it. People don't do their maintenance or even when they do in the building boom down here unscrupulous builders attached them to the house incorrectly and they eventually just fall off the house when there is very much weight on it.

  • 13 years ago

    45 minutes!! The last deck we stained took well over 20 hours. We used an opaque stain that doesn't peel up, just sort of fades away. The railings alone took several days. The advice on Big Box stores is right on. Not only decking, but wood, power tools, light fixtures, bathroom fixtures etc. "You get what you pay for". After we took off our deck and brought in dirt, we still have two steps down to the patio. We live on a deeply wooded lot. No way would a wood deck last more than a few years, too much moisture. This way we paid once. It will outlive us and there is no maintenance!!

  • 13 years ago

    I'm with you on hating decks. We used to have a concrete patio with our first house. We just hosed it off! Our last 3 houses have had decks and they are awful. We bought our current one with a redwood stain already applied. Our grumpy old dog will let NO ONE cut her nails and her nails scratch the finish off our deck. I would like it better if it was a natural finish, I think, maybe with just a sealer. But with this dark finish, it just looks awful every spring. So every summer I clean it, restain it and curse it. My next house, someday, will have a patio.

  • 13 years ago

    45 minutes to refinish a deck would have been a dream for us. Our small deck took the whole weekend (not including the few attempts when it was powerwashed, and then rained for 3 days straight...). Ugh.

    I too dislike decks. We just had a paver patio done off our basement and I love it. But since our house has a walkout basement, we have to build a deck of some kind off the main floor. All I know is that it will not be wood!

  • 13 years ago

    When I looked into this several years ago, IIRC, the first wave of plastic composite deck materials were failing early because they used recycled plastic that was biodegradable. I believed they've switched plastics now. That might be something you'd want to research.

    An article in the WSJ on decking materials a couple of years ago liked aluminum decks too. That's what I'd like to replace our wooden deck with. So tired of painting it every two years:

    AriDek

    Last-Deck

    LockDry

    Versadeck

  • 13 years ago

    Going on 17 years with our 22x12 PT deck. Starting year 4 we have it powerwashed and refinished for about $300 every other year with semi transparent stain. Still solid and looks great. It does start to get green spots and looking ratty after the winter towards the end of the second year. If you can hire out the maintenance for a reasonable price PT is a great way to go and a few thousand difference might buy you 2 decades of maintenance.

  • 13 years ago

    We also had carpenter bees in our wood deck and then the woodpeckers came and drilled some holes in it. I would love to rebuild with composite.

Sponsored
Longhouse Architects
Average rating: 5 out of 5 stars4 Reviews
Loudoun County's Prominent Architecture Firm Creating Cohesive Designs