If you’re considering adding a new deck to your home, or replacing an existing one, your most important decision is what material to use. These days, you have more choices than ever before. In addition to a variety of real woods, manufacturers are offering a wealth of composite timber options.
Composite timber is a mix of plastics and figerglass designed to appear like real wood. It offers many advantages over lumber – but some down sides, as well.
A recent artlcle on the Houzz website discussed the pros and cons, and also included many comments from customers who have used the composite material. Here is a summary of the good and bad from Houzz and its readers:
Doesn’t contribute to deforestation, as it’s made from recycled content
Won’t harbor pests
Doesn’t absorb water
Doesn’t need the time-consuming maintenance of oiling, staining or sealing
Easy to install, as it won’t split or crack
Comes in a variety of colors and finishes
More costly than real wood (although you will save in the long run due to maintenance ease)
Can look artificial
Requires annual pressure washing in humid climates
Absorbs and retains heat longer, making it sizzling hot in the summer
Can fade and sag over time
Is very slippery when wet and, therefore, can be hazardous
Bottom line? Assess your priorities. If a non-artificial appearance is critical to you, real wood is probably the best alternative. On the other hand, if you’re worried about bothersome maintenance, composite timber may be your best choice.
As one Houzz reader commented after choosing a composite over the redwood used on a previous deck: “This composite will not fool the eye up close, but it is so easy to live with that I can forgive that – that’s the trade-off. At my vintage, I am beyond the annual maintenance of a wood deck…all I have to do is sweep occasionally, and enjoy!”
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