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David Beaulieu

Deck Materials - Wood Decks vs Composite Decks

By November 14, 2006

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If you're building a deck to extend out from your house and create more outdoor living space, then you're undertaking a major project. After all, if decks aren't constructed so as to blend in with your landscape design, there's no hiding them after the fact -- decks can stick out like sore thumbs!

There's a lot you need to get right in deck construction, and that means solid planning, before you so much as touch a piece of wood! In fact, part of the planning involves deciding whether you even want a wood deck. That's right: the hegemony of wood decks is no longer unchallenged, and you need to learn about other deck materials before you can make an informed decision. You've probably heard that vinyl is now one of your options for deck materials, but perhaps the hottest of the new deck materials is a mix of plastic and wood products. It's called "composite" decking. And this feature explores the pros and cons of composite decks, as opposed to traditional wood decks. The author of this piece on composite decks, Lawrence Winterburn, posts updates about composite decks in his blog.

Comments

July 28, 2006 at 11:31 am
(1) Kathy Edwards says:

You just saved me from making a huge mistake. I was going to have a composite decking put on my house, I think I will do as I read and ask to see their decks that are over 3 years old and see what they say. Thanks I guess I will wait until they really are the perfect material. Thanks

May 3, 2007 at 12:17 pm
(2) From Winnipeg says:

Thank you for this site. We are thinking about composite decking, and other than the usual pro-composite rhetoric we hear from salespeople, I couldn’t find anything with an unbiased pro/con view. Thanks again. Glad I found this site. Will be back!

May 3, 2007 at 12:25 pm
(3) landscaping says:

You’re welcome, and it’s great to hear that you’ll be returning. I have interviewed an expert (Lawrence Winterburn) on decks in the past and will be doing so in the future. He’s a great source of info for the latest trends.

June 10, 2007 at 8:43 am
(4) Gary Taylor says:

This article itself is rhetoric. When attempting to offer a true comparison, perhaps it might be best to truely compare the product instead of offering a biased attack. Perhaps these problems are true. Then list the article as such. “Exsposing the truth blah, blah)”, not “A comparison of…”
Do better next time guys!!

June 10, 2007 at 9:27 am
(5) landscaping says:

You say “po-tay-to,” I say “po-tah-to.” “Exposing the truth” about something often involves making a comparison. These issues don’t arise in a vacuum. When a product is evaluated, it’s usually evaluated in comparison to the alternatives. A critique of the new product, namely, composite lumber, inevitably elicits a comparison with the product it seeks to replace, namely, wood. For example, take the following lines from the article in question: “A wood deck can be refinished every few years to look like new again. You cannot refinish a composite deck—you simply replace it.” If that’s not a comparison, then I don’t know what it is! So introduce the article as a “critique” or a “comparison” — either way, you’re on firm logical footing.

June 15, 2007 at 2:19 pm
(6) Mark Sotomayor says:

Great article! I’m up here in Maine considering a deck. This was just what I wanted to needed. Everyone I spoke to calls it maintenance free decking material. With the added cost, and lowered expectations, I’m staying with wood.
Thanks Again!
Mark

June 27, 2007 at 12:05 pm
(7) Joshua Gooding says:

I have to say that article was great. I’m researching composite decking materials, but it never dawned on me to search for the problems. Once I started asking people and contractors about them, I started seeing them in a different light. I think I will be sticking to all cedar for now.

While I don’t think that composite materials are for a “high traffic” style deck (ie, high heels, pets, pools, etc) I do believe that there is a strong future for these products if they can refine them more. True these decks are very beautiful and have a lower cost of maintenance over the lifetime, I’m not willing to shell out the cold hard cash to replace the material every few years because it is stained, faded, cracked, or has molded.

June 27, 2007 at 12:31 pm
(8) landscaping says:

Thanks for your comment — it was very well thought-out and informative.

October 3, 2007 at 5:02 pm
(9) Angelo says:

There is a strong undercurrent of opposition to the composite products, some of it with merit and some without. It’s true that composite decking is not the end all/be all. It is NOT maintenance free, it does fade and stain and it doesn’t last forever. With that said, good composite doesn’t warp, doesn’t splinter, doesn’t require sanding/sealing and for some people, looks nice. My concern is that fringe enviromentalists bash it because much of it is not recycleable/renewable. Some contractors bash it because sometimes, they have a comfort zone working with wood (and sizing mistakes cutting composite are costly)—and especially pressure treated lumber gives them a higher profit margin if they are supplying material, because of how cheap it is. Third, people who run or profit from lumber mills have an interest in promoting wood and scaring people away from composite. The whole argument that “composite scratches” is ridiculous. Of course it scratches. So does wood. Are people really going to sand and restain their deck every time a dog scratches it or high heels leave a mark? Live with the stains and live with the scratches, it’s a deck for crying out loud. A bigger issue is having your toddler pick up half inch slivers from lumber that’s deteriorating. We had a wood deck built in 2004 and in less than a year, it was showing the typical cracking, warping, graying and minor splintering. Premium grade pressure treated is what it was billed as. Before everyone says we should have used IPE or cedar, do the math—these things cost a lot more, which is one of the big arguments against composite—the higher price. After three years, any deck, made out of any material will not look like it was just completed. I say do a budget, decide what you can afford or want to pay, then pick the material you like best after looking at samples. Some people prefer the look of composite or vinyl and others like the natural imperfection of wood.

December 10, 2007 at 6:55 pm
(10) Lamberto says:

Angelo, Well said! If a comparison is done, then we should talk about the negative side of wood, as well! No material is perfect or 100% better than another and differences can only be judged by each purchaser/customer. So, do your homework and pick the best material for YOU! I chose composite materail for my dock (in Florida) and 3 years later looks great! Color was of great importance for me, and composite had the color I was looking for.

May 23, 2008 at 6:29 pm
(11) *tagger* says:

So, I see I’ve found a group of students of deck materials. Just what I need at this time. It appears vinyl may be just too expensive as it is not discussed much as an option. Woods seem to dominate as best choice. Is there a particular favorite among woods? Cedar is somewhat expensive I have heard. Does anyone know anything about ‘tigerwood’? Thanks!

May 23, 2008 at 7:28 pm
(12) landscaping says:

I don’t know much about tigerwood, but I doubt that it’s inexpensive. All I know is that it’s an exotic hardwood like ipe and is resistant to rot and decay.

March 28, 2011 at 12:28 am
(13) joann says:

My ipe deck is 12 years old. It has been impossible to maintain the original color. I would have to powerwash and seal it every 6 months to maintian the original color and that would be very expensive. We do it every 2 years to control costs, but it only looks good for 6 months after cleaning/sealing. The wood is so dense that no product gets absorbed into the wood and the sealer eventually washes off with rain. I have tried every product on the market. The best thing to do with ipe is to let it turn grey. Do not stain or seal it. Just powerwash to keep it clean. I have seen ipe that has turned grey and has never been sealed and it looks great as long as you like grey color. Once you stain/seal it, you have to keep doing it because your rails will hold on to some of the color, but your floor boards won’t.

June 4, 2008 at 12:10 am
(14) Joe says:

very good article i was thinking of a composite deck but after reading this article i think i will stay with wood

June 7, 2008 at 11:59 am
(15) Fred says:

Why is there no mention of aluminum. Am considering replacing old redwood deck or refinishing. Have been researching composites and these articles are making me rethink them. Lock Dri aluminum decking(mentioned in Consumer Reports) seems to have some real advantages over both. True, it doesn’t pretend to be wood but also provides waterproof cover for area underneath.

July 10, 2008 at 11:56 am
(16) Carol says:

Wow! great article. I was definitely leaning towards “maintenance free” composite decking. We currently have a screened porch and large deck (about 18′ x 40′ total) that I was going to have completely removed and replaced. NOT NOW! I’ll have a wood decking company come and do repairs and clean/stain it. Thanks again. You really opened my eyes. The landfill reference was particularly hard-hitting.

July 16, 2008 at 3:29 pm
(17) Frustrated says:

We replaced our redwood deck after 10 years of use. We replaced it with a product called Oasis from Alcoa. In less than one year, it’s surface is etching, it warping everywhere (significantly), cracking at the ends of the boards where the screws were driven in, bowing between floor joists….is terrible. we are currently in discussions with the contractor that built the deck. He is in the process of submitting a warranty claim to Alcoa as I write this. I am anxious to see how they will try to wiggle their way out of this…. very disappointing as we paid a great deal of money versus just using wood. In the short term, this will need to be replaced so, I would love someone to write and tell me what better choice there is out there….what have you used that has help up well under harsh conditions? I’m at a loss.

July 16, 2008 at 4:57 pm
(18) Susan says:

Thank you for this informative article. We have now decided to go back to our original plan to use cedar, since spending money to try something that so many others seem dissatisfied with seems foolhardy. The article was like a Consumer’s Report by a person in the profession of landscaping and building.

July 21, 2008 at 12:23 pm
(19) Edgar says:

Well, I thought the article was a blatantly biased attack on composites. While you made some valid points, this was clearly a hatchet job to attack the composite materials and promote wood.

I am currently debating on going with cedar or composite. The negative points I have found from direct experience and online searches (for composite) are mold spots, scratching, and that composites get very hot. There is fading but no worse than wood and it is consistent. THe material is softer than wood so there will be warping, however as long as joists are spaced 16″ (or 12″ for diagonal planks) you will not experience sagging. Again, this assumes a premium product like Evergrain or Trex. Also, for mold and stains, you can powerwash or use a deck cleaner, in fact all recommend annual cleaning and most recommend a sealer. From talking with several local lumber yards, almost all complaints within the last 8 years have been installer related, don’t go cheap on the installer, certain procedures must be followed.

Contrast this with wood, which can shrink or warp, will splinter, needs to be stripped and stained/sealed every other year, also gets hot, gets scratched, and even though it is expensive, the labor and maintenance costs will catch up with composite within 4 years typically. I have a cedar gazebo that I can maybe get 5 years painted with a deep oil stain, but that has no traffic.

Oh, and no reason why you can’t paint composite material, treat it like plastic. And the expansion comment is a joke, there is no data to match up those claims, extruded composite will not wiggle free from expansion on treated lumber joists.

That all said, I am deciding on cedar with restaining every 3-5 years, or a 25 year warranted composite, price difference about 20% more for composite. Sadly, as I look for honest opinions online all I see is biased articles like this one, and it is very disappointing.

July 21, 2008 at 2:57 pm
(20) landscaping says:

Edgar writes, “While you [emphasis mine] made some valid points, this was clearly a hatchet job to attack the composite materials and promote wood.” Just for the record, I want folks skimming these comments to be aware that I did not, myself, write this article on deck materials. Rather, the article was written by Lawrence Winterburn, an expert on deck materials.

July 23, 2008 at 10:49 pm
(21) Ted K says:

After much digging I ended up deciding to go with Eon. It is made
from 100% recycled plastics and its worst enemy is petroleum based products.
I also did also get a feel that this was more of an exercise in bashing, but as they say, you must do your own homework. Anyone who puts too much weight into anything they read on the web without verifying it gets what they deserve.

July 24, 2008 at 8:31 am
(22) landscaping says:

>”Anyone who puts too much weight into anything they read on the web [emphasis mine] without verifying it gets what they deserve.”

Why limit this observation to the Web, specifically? I may believe only about half of what I read in the newspapers, for instance. Whether it’s the Web, newspapers, books or whatever, the information provided should be approached as a base for further research on one’s own part — nothing more. Weigh opposing points of view, then make a decision on your own, be it regarding composite decks or anything else. I agree with you: after doing “your own homework,” you may come to the conclusion that composite decks are the best thing since sliced bread.

August 8, 2008 at 10:08 am
(23) Ron Peterman says:

I have had a Trex deck for over 10 years now. Does it look like new? No it does not. However, all I have ever done is wash it down with a hose a couple of times a year. It is virtually maintenance free. I live in “muggy” Maryland and have had no problems with mold or mildew. I am very happy that I used Trex for my deck and will use composites as decking on a new dock I am building.

November 21, 2008 at 7:16 pm
(24) Jojo says:

We are a new company looking to produce composite decks that fulfil ‘what’s missing’ with current composite decks and would appreciate some feedback starting with this question:
What are the top 5-most important things (in order 1-5) should a company focus on when producing a composite deck?
E.g. 1) Price 2) Quality 3) Color 4) Support Documentation 5) Texture ?

November 21, 2008 at 7:30 pm
(25) landscaping says:

JoJo:

My own preferences:

1 quality
2 price
3 color
4 texture
5 support documentation

Hopefully, others will chime in with their own thoughts on composite decks.

January 26, 2009 at 10:00 pm
(26) Tim O'Neill says:

I have been in the home improvement bus. for over twenty two years. Use wood, the right wood and treat it with SIKKENS. Period!

March 21, 2009 at 12:19 pm
(27) Jody says:

My dad was a general contractor for over 50 years. When he had to put a new deck on just-bought property, he put in a composite deck and never reqretted his decision. To do this after a lifetime experience in wood is why I’m looking into composite decks.

April 4, 2009 at 2:29 pm
(28) Deck Contractor MA says:

I love installing composite decks, but to find a customer willing to pay for it, is slim. More and more people want a low-maintenance deck, so I hope the manufactures will drop their prices.

May 3, 2009 at 1:25 pm
(29) MetalMike says:

I am in the process of stripping the 2X6 cedar decking from a multi level deck (pt bones) that I built in 1991. I am seriously looking into IPE for the redecking and other elements on this existing deck. I am coming at it from the perspective of having maintained a cedar deck for 18 years, so any maintenance equal to or less than that is acceptable. Looking at some of the newer composites, my concern is what will they look like in 5 or 10 years and since these materials are so new I doubt anyone can honestly say. My deck gets hit with the southern sun year round. Who has installed IPE? How long have you had it? Pros? Cons? I’m not worried about the cost.

May 10, 2009 at 5:30 pm
(30) Pat says:

Hot Hot Hot…

Composite, pvc or plastic decking materials will be very hot in direct sunlight or warm temperatures. Barefeet will get scorched!!!

May 28, 2009 at 3:19 pm
(31) Taylor says:

We put in a cedar deck about 15 years ago since we did not like the look of the composit materials available at that time. However, I am now thinking of replacing the cedar with composite or plastic. The main reason is that we stained the deck, and I am very tired of scraping (yes, stain does peel on cedar) and restaining every year. I’ve tried all different brands of stian and none work better than the rest. It’s time to enjoy the deck instead of spending a week every spring working on it.

June 19, 2009 at 10:46 pm
(32) Jerri says:

We are considering a composite decking called “Millennium”. Does anybody know how this product holds up? How about scratching? We are particularly concerned about this as we have two large dogs. Appreciate any information you can provide.

June 27, 2009 at 2:27 am
(33) Lauren says:

I replaced a rotting redwood deck with Trex about 3-4 years ago, thinking it would look better and last longer…at least 10 years. It is crumbling everywhere and looks like crap. I am very disappointed with this product. I willingly paid more for what I thought was a better product, but it has not performed as advertised.

June 27, 2009 at 10:36 am
(34) Pam says:

We used Weatherbest Composite decking in 2004. It is failing. The boards are splitting. I’m so discouraged with the performance of composite I am seriously going back to plain, inexpensive wood.

July 6, 2009 at 11:05 am
(35) Don says:

I installed a 600 sq. ft. composite deck about 6 years ago. It was a joy to work with compared to pressure treated, and little waste if you design it to fit standard 8′, 12′ and 16′ planks. Autum leaves left over winter leave a stain on the deck, and some green mold buids up in the shaded areas. However, a couple of hours with the pressure washer (no chemicals) and the deck looks almost like it did in year one. Never had any issues, warping, loosening, cracking. Would definately use again

Don

July 8, 2009 at 1:00 pm
(36) Robert Yost says:

I used a product called GEO-DECK composite decking was just about five years ago and thought it was a winner. This week I dropped it off a transfer garbage center $4500. down the drain. I am weary of any composite now. I have a sample of cellular PVC by Gossen in front of me that looks really nice. At $7.50 a square foot, I am concerned that I will be in the same boat in a few years. Maybe I should use pressure treated.

October 17, 2011 at 2:21 pm
(37) Composite Garden Decking says:

Hi Robert, what was the problem you had with composite decking and why did you have to remove it?

July 8, 2009 at 1:08 pm
(38) David says:

I live in Colorado where we get the worst of weather. From the freezing snow to the high elevation of the sheering sun hitting on my deck. 4 Years ago I was looking at replacing my old wooden deck with trex or treated cedar. After looking at both products I went with the traditional wood versus a trex deck and do not regret it. My next door neighbor went with a trex deck and it is fading real bad and lifting in some areas. With temperatures from 20 below to 100 degrees, I just don’t think that the composite material can stand up. Yes, I have to treat my deck with stain every 2 to 3 years but it looks beautiful. In fact, as I was staining my deck this week, my neighbor was on hers and thought the look of my wood deck was beautiful. I highly recommend wood as it has the beauty like no composite material can give you.

July 25, 2009 at 5:10 pm
(39) Pat Umfress says:

Can you please help me? Two years ago I had a new back deck put on my house. The lumber was green and very wet but was treated. I waited over a year to have a solid stain put on it. NOW this summer the knots expecially have begun to ooze pine resin, very sticky. I can hardly use the deck since if one steps in it, it is tracked into the house. I put paint thinner on some places but did no good since the sun made the places ooze again. I am desperate so if you know anything for me to do, please let me know. Thank you for any help, Pat

August 1, 2009 at 9:16 am
(40) Mike says:

This is an old article. Azek, Veka Deck, and Timbertech XLM are all PVC and are great performers with VERY little maintenance. CorrectDeck CX is manufactured in a slightly different process – PVC shell with wood fiber inside – but is the equal of those above in terms of quality. All of these are solid choices over wood if you are looking for an attractive, dependable very low-maintenance solution. Keep in mind that you will pay between $3-$4 per lineal foot for the decking, and a complimentary rail system can cost anywhere from $250-$400 per 6 foot section, depending on the manufacturer.

If you are a wood junkie, none of these will do, so use IPE for long life and durability. If not, any of the products above will do nicely.

September 5, 2009 at 6:32 pm
(41) Marie says:

To Don, please let us know which brand of decking you used. We need to replace a redwood deck, quite old. We’re going composite, do not want wood again, but don’t want a cheap brand that sags, etc. Thanks, Marie

September 8, 2009 at 10:16 pm
(42) Kerry C says:

(Western Colorado) I made the decision to Stucco my house and needed to remove an existing deck to properly install flashing. The deck was a 25 year old redwood deck, a little long in the tooth, but still in serviceable condition. Every year I would clean the surface with a hose and then roll on a coat of Super Duck redwood (transparent) oil base stain. My intention was to replace the decking material with composite as it was advertised as less maintenance and virtually indestructible. That is until I saw a two year old composite deck.. The owner said it was continually shearing the deck screws as a result of expansion and contraction. In addition the deck was stained and bowing—not very attractive. After seeing his problems I jumped on line to research composite decking and found more potential problems. No way will I install a composite! It’s twice the cost of redwood, has durability problems, mold problems, fading, staining, if you have to replace a board it will never match, can’t resurface etc. I will sacrifice an hour a year to clean and stain a 12 x 12 redwood deck. By the way, never had splinter problems and since I used an oil base transparent stain did not peel or chip.

January 10, 2010 at 6:25 pm
(43) Rich says:

All should read this when making a choice regarding wood decks vs. composite decks:
http://www.healthybuilding.net/pdf/gtpl/guide_to_plastic_lumber.pdf

February 4, 2010 at 3:01 pm
(44) Carter says:

After invetigating, talking with other owners and reading many articles on composite versus wood, I am going to replace my wood deck with another wood deck. It appears that composite decking has improved in the last few years, but if you have a lot of sun, trees and great changes in temperture and moisture conditions, nothing beats real wood. Yes, you have to treat it every few years (if you want too, not absolutely necessary) but it will out perform composite decking, hands-down.

February 23, 2010 at 12:12 pm
(45) H J Schauer says:

After reading the posts on this site I thought I would share my experience. I am not a builder or a contractor but have installed and built a number of decks over the years, for myself and for family and friends. I also have to admit I work at a cedar mill in the Pacific Northwest. I built a deck on my residence about 25 years ago and used cedar, which was the most popular product at the time (before the advent of composite/vinyl etc). The deck looked great but it quickly turned grey after only a short period of time. I never did properly take care of it the way I should have but that deck lasted for a good 20 years.

I finally decided to replace the cedar decking with a vinyl product. The reason was that here in the northwest decks will get very slippery due to mold if you don’t properly maintain them (especially on the north side of the house). So I was looking for a product that would be less slippery when wet.

The product I decided to use looked great and has worked out quite well. It’s been about 4 years since I installed it and since then the company has pretty much gone out of business due to a manufacturing defect that resulted in a large number of warranty claims. So far none of these problems have appeared on my deck. I’m keeping my fingers crossed because I wouldn’t be able to get any warranty coverage now, so don’t count on any warranry because it’s only as good as the company.

I’ve also used Trex on a couple of decks and it has held up pretty well, but yes, it does stain. That’s the reason I didn’t use Trex when I insalled the vinyl decking previously mentioned.

Finally, I would just like to note that when I removed the old 20 year old cedar decking, it was still in excellent shape. I probably could have run it through a planer and reused it as 5/4 stock, which is what most of the cedar decking is today anyway.

My final advice would be that if you want to keep your deck looking great, no matter what material you chose, do the maintenace! If the deck is built properly it should last a good long time.

February 26, 2010 at 12:57 am
(46) laz says:

I am a general contractor in Concord, Ca, and specialize in decks. I am replacing a 4 yr old trex deck for a customer next week. It was the old style heavy decking, and literally has flaked off on the surface – horrible. Trex is replacing the decking free, but is not covering the labor to remove or install. Most comp decking manufacturers have bad years – yrs when they got it wrong, and it failed.
Composite decking is still in an initial phase of development. If you’re not sure about a product – use wood.
What hasn’t been mentioned much here is the frame underneath. Comp or wood, make sure the joists are doug fir treated! Most decks i replace could have lasted longer with a good sanding, BUT the joists are rotting out and won’t hold, the screws! _disaster!

Trex just came out with comp decking that has a thin film of plastic to keep it from staining so bad

March 16, 2010 at 7:42 pm
(47) chris says:

Has anyone tried or heard of thermally modified wood?
It looks like an IPE but it is actually sothern yellow pine.
I think it is relitively new in North America. The Manufacturer, Purewood products, says it’s been used in Eroupe for years. Apparantley only heat and steam are used to convert the wood sugars permanantley to a natural substance that cannot be digested by insects and micro orginism. The darker color is throught-out the wood. Further claim that it is dimmenssionally stable, lightweight, can be cut, sanded, stained just like regular wood. All this without chemicals.
Sounds too good to be true.

April 9, 2010 at 11:25 pm
(48) lorne says:

Yes, saw it in BC last fall on the PNE prize home. Looked real nice. The guys told us that we have to change our thinking when using this. The wood does not rot so what we put on the wood is really about protecting to color not the wood. So he says no sealer, definitely not he said. If you put sealer on you will for ever more be sanding and scraping to redo. He says just decking oil with UV. Apparently you just wash it well in the spring, there are deck wash stuff at lumber yards. Let it dry and just mop on new oil. Only a couple of hours work combined and he says the deck is like brand new. I have not tried it. But sure looked interesting. Will see if they are still around this year.

April 13, 2010 at 10:44 am
(49) chris says:

Thanks for the info Lorne. Sounds like the maitenance is relatively easy. I hate composite or plastic anything and not sure our kids should be walking on treated boards with bare feet. Think I’ll give this a try.

April 28, 2010 at 2:27 pm
(50) Shelly says:

We live in western Nebraska and we are going to put a deck on our house, we have been debating over what type of material to use. By researching we are leaning towards a wood deck, but which material would suit our weather best?

April 28, 2010 at 3:06 pm
(51) landscaping says:

Shelly,

Personally, I wouldn’t focus on weather that much. Both wood decking and composite decking are viable options in your climate. Instead, I would weigh factors such as looks, cost, warranties and maintenance before coming to a conclusion. I recommend further research into any composite decking product you may be considering before buying it, so that you can do a comparison.

May 16, 2010 at 12:50 pm
(52) Peter says:

I have read everybody’s comment, but I’m still confused.
Went to my local lumberyard and they recomend TimberTech XLM. Was told itis 100% plastic. I am replacing a redwood deck that is 38 yrs. old. I live in NJ.

May 24, 2010 at 12:39 pm
(53) John S Brown says:

I am going to replace the decking on my ten year plus deck. It is cedar and well taken care of including one complete sanding and Thompson treatments every other year. It has been a pain!Your article billed as a comparison was not helpful or credible . It was not a comparison but a pitch for wood. So I need more research. The composite people “say” that they have overcome most if not all the problems you cite.

May 29, 2010 at 2:48 pm
(54) Kathy says:

Removing 15+ redwood deck. Thinking seriously about Tigerwood as recommended by contrator. I don’t want to do the stain/seal routine and am told you can avoid this maintenance with Tigerwood. Any comments or advice from anyone who has used it would be appreciated. Ca home with a west sun exposure. Summer temps are often 100+.

June 5, 2010 at 12:00 am
(55) Bill says:

I purchased a house in northern Ohio that came with a wooden deck of 1700 linear feet. Every two years, I spend a week stripping, drying, and re-staining. I buy the best stains that are guaranteed (deckscape). Nothing lasts. Two years ago, I put grooves in the wood when I pressured cleaned it. I was heart broken. The wood is structurally sound. I tried to sand out the grooves. Nails got in the way. I also replaced some bad pieces and filled in others with wood filler. I am so tired of always working on my deck. Home Depot is selling Trex 1×5.5×12 for $27.97. That will cost about $4000 plus $1600 to have it installed. I read the Trex warranty and I am not impressed. It is for 10 years. After that, it is prorated. Plus, you have to remove mold within the first week. What do I do if it happens in the winter months when it is covered in snow? Maybe mold does not grow in winter. Certainly, it grows on my grass under the snow. I am really turned off by the Trex warranty. Still, I do not want to be a slave to my deck. This is very complicated. I wish it was a simple decision.

July 1, 2010 at 9:04 pm
(56) Roger says:

Trex, The biggest ripoff in building materials! I was foolish enough even though I knew better then to use it from years of building at a professional I let my wife talk me into it. 6 months later I have a deck that looks 30 years old, scratches, stains warping, and just plain comming apart. Let no one talk you into this poor quality junk!

July 22, 2010 at 1:48 am
(57) Rob says:

Just put in a TerraTec Natural deck. So far so good, very sharp. Will judge it in a full season to see if there is warping or any other issues.

This company says it is going to fade to a lighter shade but will stop, it also uses plastic and rice hulls instead of wood to prevent mold. I have dropped coffee and bbq sauce on the deck, I have wipped it up without much problems. Also minor scratches dissapear in time as the sun usually takes care of them, heavy scratches or damage will require the board to be reversed.

Anyone else have a Terractec deck, goods, bads?

Great board! learning alot here.

rob

August 13, 2010 at 10:16 am
(58) Jeff says:

#16 Frustrated with the Alcoa Oasis deck…. what happened to the warranty? Was this resolved? I am going through the same thing now with the same deck. Mine is 3 years old….any advice you can offer?

November 26, 2010 at 12:20 pm
(59) Alain says:

I bought an expensive $23K (16′ X 28′) reinforced vinyl deck and within a year the sun was shining from the back door window and warped the deck. Edging of the deck kept popping loose from constant distortion caused by cycling of the heat. The contractor came back and repaired damages, and advised me to cover the deck area with a weather resistan mat near the door for protection. The deck was constantly exposed to the sun (80% of the day).

September 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm
(60) Decking Contractor South Africa says:

From my experience no composite decking compares to a good hardwood like Tigerwood, Massaranduba or Ipe. And the prices are just not justified, prices in South Africa are about 30% more expensive for composite than tigerwood, and quite simply composite is just not worth the money.

April 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm
(61) Jennsdad says:

Is it possible to contact the author of this article privately?
(deck mterials, wood vs Composites.)

April 16, 2012 at 9:03 pm
(62) landscaping says:

Jennsdad,

If you follow the link (in the blog above), you’ll come to a page that offers you some ways to interact with the author, Lawrence Winterburn.

April 20, 2012 at 1:44 am
(63) Suzie says:

Just read the article and all of the comments. Within two years, our new Trex deck began flaking. We became part of a class action lawsuit against Trek and eventually were reimbursed the cost of the product but not the cost of labor. Our neighbor was told that they just got a bad batch of Trex so they replaced their first Trex deck with a second Trex deck. Well, guess what–it flaked too.

Think about your children and grandchildren picking up pieces of Trex and putting it in their mouths! It has been horrible so now we are in the process of having to have our vinyl railings all taken apart and the old deck removed and a new one built. And this one will be with wood. I will gladly do the upkeep after this horrible experience.

May 9, 2012 at 8:36 pm
(64) Ellen says:

Six years ago we installed Ultradeck sold by Menards Home Improvement Store. We asked for specific installation directions and were told that we could either place it next to each board or leave a small space. Because of the mosquito problem we decided to place the boards next to each other. Within three months the color had faded to a very pale beige and the next spring we had buckled boards as well as wavy ones. After contacting both Menards and Ultradeck we were told it was the others fault and since we didn’t leave a space any warranty was void. We will never buy or use any Ultradeck products again.

June 21, 2012 at 8:00 pm
(65) Larry F says:

Would it be a good idea to coat a wood deck with polyurea or polyaspartic? How about Rhino ceramic paint? Would any of these hold up? They are super strong. Anyone have thoughts or experience with these products please post.

July 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm
(66) John says:

I have a composite deck in my yard that I am not happy with. I inherited it from the previous owners and if I were to build my own deck in the future I would simply build it using wood.

The composite material is extremely heavy, perhaps 3 times the weight of your average lumber. While this isn’t a big deal once it’s in place, it is a pain when you are building, removing, or replacing parts of the deck. With this added weight one would expect extra durability. This isn’t the case. I find the material is quite susceptible to scratching and chipping. I also found that boards nailed in vertically along the edges of the deck were significantly warped. Also, as the summer wears on there are more and more of the infamous black spots on the deck. Cleaning it does remove most of the mold, however, the bleaching of the boards themselves is quite apparent. Finally, IMHO, nothing beats the look and feel of a beautiful wood finish.

Finally, the price of this material is quite frankly obscene. I have Trex material and when I considered redoing a railing I couldn’t believe the cost.

August 6, 2012 at 5:04 pm
(67) Mike says:

I bought my house 6 years ago in NH. The previous owners had installed a 18′x 30′ massave 2 teir deck 2 years prior to me purchasing the home. The entire floor is treck. I power wash it every year.It does get mold spots. I do not know how since it gets complete full sun but it does and I just clean it.

I have to say as a treck owner though that I am 100% satasfied with the product. I powerwash it and it looks great! I am glad it is not like my PT railings or side porch I have to constantly replace and stain.I had scratched the composite in a few places on my deck and I think if it were wood it would splinter and possibly hurt someone. With kids and other family members walking barefoot this is important. Our deck is our weekend!

I saw a few comments about the treck decking being hot…BS! I have full sun and do not have that issue. My side porch is wood (changing soon) and is just as hot.

I loved it so much I put a porch on my mothers house and used the composite flooring. It looks awesome 3 years later and she has NO warping or mold.

My wife & I are going to install a farmers porch on the front and will use the composite again. I will not go back to wood for the flooring.

I had heard horror stories about composite decking and would have probably never bought it due to the cost and being unsure. Bad news travels faster than good. I am glad I fell into it and have changed my mind.

I am sure there are different qualities of treck and I do think that wood like cedar etc is really nice but if you are looking for something “low maitenance”, no splinters, no staining and you just need to powerwash every year or two then this is your product.

January 10, 2013 at 5:34 pm
(68) Alex Levin says:

Seeger Weiss LLP is a top-ranked plaintiffs’ firm with extensive experience representing consumers across the country. We are currently investigating claims that Trex is selling defective and falsely advertised decking products. If you or someone you know has defective Trex decking, please visit us at http://www.seegerweiss.com/news/trex_defective_decking_lawsuit to learn more and receive a free legal consultation.

May 11, 2013 at 4:08 pm
(69) Jackie Ward says:

I purchased 5/4 Thompson watersealed treated decking material 6 years ago. I used good quality screws and after a short time I sealed the decking and railing with a high quality gray sealer. Within 2 years decking boards started splitting and sagging. Framing joists are on 2′ center which is what the material called for. Now I have many rotten boards, sagging boards and boards that have pulled through the screws. I cannot afford Bamboo, mahogany or Ipe as much as I would like to have it. What’s my next best option? This will be the last time I rebuild the deck due to age.

July 25, 2013 at 4:05 pm
(70) kevin says:

I had a 12 foot by 12 foot base put down on my cement patio last summer. I used Ultra deck composite. It was as beautiful as could be for one year. Now it is swelling up badly. I mistakenly thought this product was waterproof but it surely is not. I’m afraid it will begin to mold or mildew soon as it doesn’t dry out even though the cement under it has a 1.5 inch drop in 12 feet.

July 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm
(71) rettrkr says:

My current deck is 25 yrs old. I power wash it every 2 yrs. Have not painted nor applied any stein, the deck is 3ft off the ground. I have had some problems with the structure itself. I’m planning on taking down the complete deck and structure. This article has not made it clear as to which is the best material choice to replace it with. The current deck is on the North side of my home, with a grape arbor over the top.

April 17, 2014 at 11:34 pm
(72) Jim says:

When it became time to replace our deck, we removed the wood and replaced it with TREX. It cost more but we thought it would be well worth it. After a few years we noticed it started to fall apart. We also noticed that it began to swell and the gaps between the boards began to disappear. My first thought, exposure to the sun, but I discovered it seemed to be where there was exposure to water. All of the upright rail parts seem to be intact, but all of the decking has gone bad. I learned of the TREX lawsuit from a neighbor, unfortunately, I understand the money in the lawsuit has now run out, so I’m stuck with a defective deck. The replacement will NOT be TREX.

I’m told that the reason for the product being defective, the original formula was form the east coast, using hardwoods where the TREX made on the west coast is made from soft woods. They learned from their error and they say they have improved on the product, but you can read from some of the posts that the newer product continues to fall apart.

I would have thought the dealer who sold me the TREX wold have told me about the lawsuit, I heard nothing, now it’s too late.

Don’t get stung by TREX.

Jim

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