When faced with building a new deck or replacing one, consumers now
have more options than they did a few years ago.
One of the latest trends in decking is the use of "composite"
materials. Made from a blend of recycled plastic and wood, composite decks offer homeowners a virtually maintenance-free
First introduced on the market about seven years ago, composite
materials have the same manipulative characteristics of wood for creating custom deck designs. Just within the last two years,
more color choices have emerged leading to an increased popularity. Currently about 25% of homeowners are choosing
While composite materials are not dramatically more expensive,
they do run about 20% more than wood. However, the additional investment can pay for itself in about two years as the owner is
spared of costly maintenance. Wood decks require annual maintenance to minimize cracking, splintering and splitting - problems
that don't come with composites - and keep an attractive appearance.
Cleaning, re-staining and resealing every year-and-a-half by a
professional can run up to $600 to $800 for an average sized wood deck, and more expensive if there are intricate railing and
detail accents. Do-it-yourselfers will spend at least 2 if not 3 weekends on the job, not to mention the expense of buying
buckets of costly sealer.
Moreover, the composite deck materials are expected to hold up
many more years over traditional wood deck with minimum care. Wood decks, when properly maintained, can be expected to hold up
for about 15 years. The brutally dry heat of Central Texas can be especially unforgiving on outdoor wood, zapping it of its
natural protective oils.
However, composite materials are not for everyone. While most
people are refreshingly surprised when they see how attractive a composite deck can be, some still prefer the rich, natural look
and warm feel of a traditional wood deck.
Others elect to use a combination of materials, building the deck
floor only of composite, and using wood for railings, benches and arbors. In these designs, the wood can be easily stained to
match the color of the composite floor. This can be a low-maintenance and attractive compromise.
For die-hard wood aficionados, the exciting news is that the
latest market trend among lumber companies is the introduction of arsenic-free treated pine lumber. Now available, thanks to the
Environmental Protection Agency, the new form of treated wood is free of poisons that can leach into the soil. Consumers now have
a very safe alternative with wood, especially with eating areas, children's play areas and garden landscapes.
For those who are thinking of adding a deck to their home life,
consulting with a professional deck builder can provide invaluable information about the latest trends. Take the time to gather
the facts and carefully plan your deck, and you will by far be much happier with your decision for years to come.