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Pros and Cons of Composite Decking

Composite deck

Patios provide a space to comfortably enjoy the warmth and relaxation of spring, summer, and fall--any maybe winter, who knows! So, it's always a good idea to renovate your deck when it starts to fall apart and look outdated.

Your ideal deck design may include a number of features, but the actual deck materials dictate overall style. Premium products like composite decking offer an attractive, low maintenance finish. However, the disadvantages that come along with this product may surprise you.

Consider the pros and cons of composite decking before finalizing your ideal backyard living space. You have your research cut out for you since there are so many products on the market. Before settling on composite wood look into other options. You may discover a different deck product that is perfect for your needs.

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wood plastic composite chips

There are various composite products on the market. Bear in mind that product availability depends on your location. Big name composites, like Trex, are sold across North America. Lesser known (or new-to-the-market) products may be limited to certain regions.

Most composite products are manufactured from wood by-products (sawdust, wood chips, etc.) and recycled plastics. Combining synthetic and organic materials captures the best of both worlds, and creates a durable product that looks and feels similar to wood decking.

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Pros of Composite Deck Boards

1. Longevity

The number one benefit of composite products is longevity. Composite deck materials can withstand the most severe weather conditions for decades without any additional treatment or protection.

2. Durability

Composite decks do not need to be stained, painted, or treated. You will find that standard, pressure treated wood decks require annual or bi-annual care. Regular wood will weather, fade, crack, and split as it dries over time.

In order to keep a pressure treated deck looking it's best, you need to put in the effort. Consider staining it every one to two years to bring the wood back to life. Composite products maintain a consistent and beautiful appearance from the first year onward.

3. Colour

Composite deck products come in a variety of colours and textures. You can create a multi-colored outdoor living space by combining different composite colored boards in one deck project. Consider combining lightly colored deck boards bordered with darker tones for a dramatic look.

Composite decking

Your contractor may have some great ideas for incorporating patterns into your deck design. You can expect the colours and patterns of your new composite wood deck to last throughout the years without refinishing because this product is so durable.

4. Functionality

Most composite product lines offer a picket railing, which is similar in style to wood railings. This is a great feature given the longevity, sturdiness, and durability of composite wood products.

Many composite deck manufacturers offer a tempered glass system as well. The supplier may deliver the framework with the decking material. If they don't, then you can order it through a local supplier.

functional composite deck

In addition to railings, you can create elaborate stair and landing designs with composite products. Most manufacturers offer trim boards to cover all of the rough edges to keep your deck safe for children and the elderly. Installing trim boards will prevent you and your guests from getting caught on wood slivers or sharp edges. Every visible aspect of your deck can be covered with composite for a uniform appearance that is built to last.

Cons of Composite Decking

1. Price

Price is the most recognized disadvantage of composite products. Composite products cost between 50 to 100 per cent more than standard treated lumber. This number can vary depending on your location, too. Folks often opt for lumber options because they are more affordable. Cedar wood prices, for example, fall somewhere in the middle of treated lumber and composite product prices.

2. Little to no ROI

Even with the replacement costs of treated lumber factored in, composite carries a higher price tag. The value of your home won't necessarily reflect the added investment that you put into purchasing a composite lumber patio. Real estate studies show that installing a deck increases the value of your property. However, the materials and design may not factor into that dollar figure.

Outdoor patio

3. You can't avoid treated lumber

All composite decks are built on a treated lumber frame for optimum durability and stability. Treated lumber is used for the posts, beams, joists, and stair stringers. Decking contractors rely on the strength of treated lumber to create a stable framework for composite deck boards, trim, and railing components. They will also use standard galvanized or stainless steel fasteners on composite projects.

natural wood deck

If you were considering composite materials for environmental reasons then be aware. A significant amount of treated lumber will be used to build your composite deck project!

Standard wood decks and composite decks have a similar impact on the environment. Treated lumber resists rotting and decay nearly as much as composite, although the appearance of this product deteriorates quickly. Some composites use a greater amount of recycled materials, but this is product-dependent and not an industry standard.

4. Composite deck colours are permanent

Composite decking is permanently colored to avoid or reduce maintenance. This means that the color, tint, and shade cannot be changed. In contrast, standard wood decks can be re-painted, re-stained, or refreshed. Homeowners can try to alter a composite product's appearance by surface cleanings. Mild outdoor cleansers can remove debris and bring the original manufactured color back to life. However, this will not change the colour of the product.

5. Fading and damages

Darker composite deck colors may fade over time. This is an unavoidable process that happens due to UV rays, weathering, and high foot traffic. Other drawbacks include noticeable surface damage. Severe scratches and deep gouges are common issues with composite deck products. They are difficult to repair without replacing individual deck boards.

wood plastic composite deck plank

Keep in mind that replacing damaged boards will leave you with an uneven colour, tone, and finish throughout the patio. This is one major drawback of colour fading and damages over time. Homeowners who use wood deck products can easily replace planks and paint or stain the entire deck to achieve a uniform finish.

To buy or not to buy composite decking?

Composite decking presents a number of pros and cons such as maintenance, budget, appearance, durability, and availability. If you are thinking of ripping out your wood deck and are on a budget, then treated lumber or cedar may be the best option for you.

If you have a large budget and want to experiment with a long lasting and durable product then try composite decking products!

Make sure that you research each composite manufacturer before making up your mind. Products vary drastically in quality and appearance. Take the final deck design into mind before deciding on a product. Designs look drastically different in cedar in comparison to composite wood products.

Finally, before you settle and start your project, be sure that you've hired the best contractor in your city. Of course, TrustedPros can help you with that!

Posted by: TrustedPros
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