Which Composite Decking is Right for Me?

We're seeing a major trend shift toward composite decking along the Gulf Coast and it's easy to see why. Wood alternative decking products like the ones offered by Trex, AZEK and TimberTech are low maintenance, safe, durable and can certainly increase the value of a home. They maintain their color and beauty for years without the need to restain or repaint. They resist mildew, warping and insects so you won't have to replace rotting, uneven or termite-damaged boards. While the upfront cost is higher than that of traditional wood, money and time can be saved over the life of the deck. For some people, the tipping point to composite decking simply comes down to two little words: no splinters. 

There are a few considerations to take into account when deciding which composite decking is right for you. Here are some questions we suggest contemplating before making a decision: 

How much money do I want to spend? Most manufacturers offer premium and standard lines, as well as a sliding scale of feature options including variations in textures, design, composition, color, and ease of installation. Buyers who are content with limited color choices, a smooth surface, repetitive grain pattern, standard length, and installation that involves face screws will keep their costs down. 

How closely do you want your deck to resemble wood? The more you care about the "realistic" look of your deck, the more you're going to have to spend. Some of your composite decking manufacturers feature super-fine details, premium color choices, subtle shadings, and even go so far as to buff every deck board to remove any resemblance to plastic. These final products are gorgeous, but they will cost you. 

How will my deck perform in the heat and direct sunlight? All decking products, natural and composite, will experience weathering, some just wear and fade in the sun faster than others. If your deck is shaded by lots of trees, this factor becomes less important, but brings up another...

How much maintenance does it require? How do I clean it? Some decking requires only soap and water, other require deck wash. Very few require pressure washing (that's one of those pros, remember?)

Do I want to see my fasteners? Hidden fasteners will bump up the cost of your project, but will give a cleaner appearance and are therefor becoming popular to the point of being a requirement for some customers. Some hidden fasteners are actually easier to install than surface screws, so it's a double win for remodelers and builders. 

Remember to ask about extras. A composite deck package often includes more than simply boards and fasteners. Homeowners may need to factor in railings, balusters, posts, post caps, end caps, skirts, decorative trim, and more. With higher end lines, all these extras can match. 

Are you still considering a composite deck? We hope so! The deck planning process can take a few extra steps to figure out which product is right for you, but once the installation is complete you'll love the end result... and the increase in the value of your home. The problem is you'll never want to move! If you have questions about composite vs. wood decking, give us a call or stop by one of our locations in Mobile, Alabama, Pensacola, Florida, Daphne, Alabama or Gulfport, Mississippi. We'll be happy to walk you through the options and get your dream deck project started!

Resources for this blog post: Trex, AZEK, TimberTech, Building Products Digest February 2014 Feature Story


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