The snow has finally melted. The sun is warming up the yard and it’s inevitable that Chicagoans turn their thoughts to the outdoors. But if you’re like many homeowners, the winter has really done a number on your wood deck. Now you’ll need to find time to clean it and stain it this spring before you can start to enjoy the weather.
Does this sound familiar? If the thought of deck maintenance has you groaning, it’s time to take another look at composite decking. A decade ago, composite decking got a bad rep for being expensive, unattractive, and prone to warping but we’re happy to report that times have changed! Today’s composite decking is lightweight, resists warping, and looks as near to wood as you can get.
What is Composite Decking?
Composite decking is a polymer made from wood fibers and plastic. Although composite decking does contain plastic, it’s actually a very sustainable and eco-friendly material. Many brands use recycled plastic and lumber byproducts like wood fibers, sawdust, and wood chips; waste materials that might otherwise be burned or end up in a landfill. Pigment and preservatives are added to the polymer to give the composite its color and to prevent the wood fibers from rotting and warping.
The end result is a deck that mimics the look of real wood, right down to wood grain patterns and stain colors. Some composite decking is textured like real wood, others are smooth. Upon close inspection, a person will be able to tell it’s not real wood, but the overall appearance is sharp, clean, and attractive.
The Trouble With Wood Decks
There’s no question that wood decks remain popular and add value to homes. A well-constructed, top-quality wood deck can last for decades, but even decks made with the best wood materials will need routine maintenance. Wood decks need to be washed, sanded, and stained every year or so to prevent rotting, warping, cracks, and breakage and to maintain an attractive appearance. As they get older, they may need maintenance more frequently. What used to be an every-other-year project suddenly needs to be completed every year and areas that used to slough off stains and mildew can start to attract them.
Then there’s the question of sustainability. Wood decks are made from pressure-treated lumber, tropical hardwoods, or cedar. That wood may be farmed or sustainably sourced…or it may not be. In either case, it’s a natural resource that has to be harvested, cut, and treated before it can be used as decking. Some homeowners are turned off by this idea and like the idea of using composite made from recycled materials.
Composite is Durable, Sustainable, and Low Maintenance
Composite decking eliminates many of the hassles and headaches associated with wood decks. The polymer results in a very low-maintenance deck that doesn’t need much other than an occasional hose-off. Recycled content make the choice sustainable and the durability of the material means it is both long-lasting and low-maintenance.
For as much as we love composite decking, we have to be honest with you and inform you of some practical considerations. First off, it is generally more expensive than wood. The exception may be if you chose an expensive hardwood like mahogany or ipe. But, the higher price only applies if you just look at initial costs. If you also factor in lifetime maintenance, composite may come out ahead long-term.
It’s also not accurate to assume composite decks don’t require any maintenance. Composite decking can stain, so don’t let leaves sit on the deck to rot, and they can get moldy or mildewy. In general though, a simple hose down with soap and water at the start of the season and when it gets really dirty is all that is needed. You definitely won’t have to sand, stain, and seal the deck.
The color can fade. Most composite decking colors fade a little bit after install, especially if the deck is located in full sun. The change should not be dramatic, but it may be noticeable to you. Of course, you’ll have a fading issues with a wood deck too, the difference is you can restain a wood deck. Composite boards with UV protection can help prevent fading.
Hollow composite boards can be weaker than wood boards. However, all that means is the footings must be installed to manufacturer recommendations. Working with a professional composite deck installer is the best way to ensure the deck is installed as required by the manufacturer.
Although wood decks are still a terrific option, composite provides a little something extra and if maintenance is your pain point, composite comes out ahead hands-down.
Say Goodbye to Deck Maintenance With TimberTech Composite Decks From Erdmann Exteriors & Construction
A deck is a long-term investment, so you definitely want to choose a material that you like. Some people love the look and feel of a wood deck and are willing to put up with the maintenance demands required of it. Others just want to enjoy their deck more without the hassle of maintenance and opt for composite decking.
Whether you are looking to replace your existing deck or are planning to add a deck to your house, composite decking is an affordable, long-lasting, low-maintenance choice. Erdmann Exteriors & Construction is proud to install TimberTech composite decking for quality, durability, and appearance. The TimberTech Pro line of composite decking is backed by a 30-year limited product warranty and a 30-year limited fade and stain warranty. Contact us to learn more about composite decking or to arrange a complimentary at-home consultation.
Call us at 1-847-357-9607 or request a consultation online.