I remember when I started working at Wilson Lumber in 1984, we used to stock Redwood for decks. That was the thing. If you had a redwood deck, you had made it. The Creme de la creme today is… well, I can’t tell you. Why? I’m not sure there is a best. I’ve seen decks of just about every kind since then. I wont call myself an expert, but I’ve seen a lot of things.
Perhaps its best if I explain. Way back when… wait, I realize that some of you have a “way back when” that precedes mine so for this blog if you’ll allow lets just use mine. Now, way back when to build a deck, you used wood. Now I’m speaking of outdoor decking here, decking for covered porches is a different issue altogether.
Now, you should understand that I am a fan of wood decks. When installed properly and kept well-maintained, they are rich and beautiful. I like them just fine. The problem is, the sun does not. When you place a surface outside horizontally and don’t weatherize it properly, its open season for the sun. And frankly, its not just real easy to weatherize Southern Yellow Pine. So you may end up with this.
This picture is from Mike Jansen Custom Cedar Decks in Nebraska. They replace decks like this with Cedar. For tips on how to avoid you’re deck looking like this, see my spring is deck season blog. Cedar is a much better wood for decks because it’s more resistant to rot. But yes, you guessed it. It is a good bit more expensive. And sometimes it’s downright difficult to come by. And don’t get me started on Redwood, its very difficult to find now a days.
So about 15 years ago, alternative products began to appear. You already know that Trex was first to the nationwide market and they enjoyed that competitive advantage for a while. Their formula was a fairly simple blend of wood, plastic and glue.
Well, it didn’t take long to discover that you could never use the words “maintenance free” in the decking world. Whereas you’d never have to paint or stain, you still have to clean. You just cant stop dust from getting on something that is outdoors (or indoors for that matter).
In any case, there were three issues with this product. First, mildew. Now mildew needs certain things to grow. And even if those things aren’t part of a deck board, as long as they’re on the deck board, mildew can grow. Second, grease (not the movie). Drop a hamburger or spill some mustard and you have a little work to do to get it out of a composite deck board. Finally, fading. This isn’t necessarily a problem because the color it fades to is fine. However, uneven fading due to shade or adding new boards to an old deck required waiting for the new to fade before it would match.
There were other players as well, and though they were successful elsewhere, they never took off in the Huntsville market.
Next up on the market was an all PVC board. AZEK is probably the best known but they’re not the only one. Now this is a wonderful invention. Remember the hamburger we dropped earlier or the mildew. I can’t keep you from from dropping it but I can tell you this is much easier to clean right off. So this product is easy to clean, really lightweight, easy to install and surprisingly durable. AZEK even has this really cool in-deck storage kit.
I saw it at the International Builders Show. Very handy, especially if you have limited space. These options I’ve outlined so far were it until a couple of years ago when “wrapped” deck boards came out. Now these I like. See, for all the praises I’ve been singing about PVC boards, the limiting factor is price. Not that its not worth the money, its just that its a LOT of money.
Wrapped deck boards combine the best of all worlds. The core is made of the wood, PVC and glue formula that originally came out as a composite deck board so you get the structural durability and no-rot characteristics those were great for. But the outside of the board is wrapped in a Poly Shell so its easy to clean, installs nicely and maybe best of all, wont fade.
There are differences in manufacturers. Our personal favorite is Timbertech for several reasons, one of which is their awesome railing systems. I’ll have to blog about that later.
Well, there are several other options but this blog is already much longer than I meant for it to be. You can find more information on it at our website. Bottom line, there is definitely a difference in decking, so be sure to do some research, give us a call, and choose wisely.