Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

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hackermb
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Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by hackermb » Mon Jun 22, 2015 12:24 pm

I have a fairly large new deck I am installing.

I am stuck between Composite and Premium PT Lumber.

Price difference for materials alone for the decking is about 3,000 dollars, 1000 for PT and 4,000 for Composite.

If Composite was going to be "Perfect" then I would have less issues paying the premium. However from what I have read it will not be perfect.
- Gets hot.
- Fading/Staining.
- Do I believe the 25 year warranty.
- Still minor swelling and warping

I believe most of the pitfalls with PT lumber can be addressed with the following:
- Good airflow under deck as its 10 foot above the ground.
- Greater deck rigidity than with composite.
- Screwed in from sides and bottom, reduced splinters?
- Watersealed every year.

Not factored into the costs would be added assembly cost for composite using hidden fastener systems.

I will be expanding the deck at a later date and the 3000 additional cost for just this section would complete the entire other section in PT.

Is composite that much better?

itstoomuch
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by itstoomuch » Mon Jun 22, 2015 12:34 pm

We have a coastal home (west). I have done board replacements. Older (8 years ago) plastic composites sag and are too bouncy-12 inch centers on joists is better. PT will still rot when placed directly on cross members, PT needs to be clear lumber as much as possible, but PT is typical less than #2 lumber. Cedar is preferred but again clear cedar is very costly.
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supton
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by supton » Mon Jun 22, 2015 12:47 pm

I followed a thread online where Trex was pretty much condemned.

Neighbor has a composite deck, and it has done poorly. Granted that could be installation error, but combined with what I've read, I'd err towards pressure treat.

Knock on wood: I've never touched my deck in the 10 years I've been in my house, and I suspect the deck was already 5 years old. Never treated. The boards are splintered and gray as expected. But looks aside it appears to be still strong. If I were to be putting in a new deck I would definately treat it, as it looks better; but even an untreated deck will last years. [Mine sees full sun and typical New England winters.]

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BTDT
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by BTDT » Mon Jun 22, 2015 12:50 pm

I built a composite deck on 12 inch centers eight years ago. Every couple of years I pressure wash it and it looks almost like new.

Also have composite on my dock and 100 foot ramp. Eleven years old with lots of moisture from rain and wave action and still looks good.

My sister has a dock in Phoenix (actually Tempe) that is made of a very hard wood that I think is from Brazil? It hat has held up well for the past five years
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johnubc
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by johnubc » Mon Jun 22, 2015 12:56 pm

I have a composite deck (not Trex) and have had PT decks in the past.

No way would I go with a PT deck ever again. Splinters, warping, ugly, replacement of boards - no.

My deck is clean, hoses off and needs very little maintenance. It does not get hotter than a PT deck. If you really do not want composite, go with an IPE deck.

miles monroe
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by miles monroe » Mon Jun 22, 2015 1:26 pm

with the caveat that i have not researched the complaints about composite decking mentioned above...

about 3 years ago i completed a major home improvement project on the exterior of my house. this involved replacing the deck. i believe the difference was about 3K more to go composite. i went pt as i was at the top of my budget. if i could do it again i would gladly pay the extra 3K. my deck has 122 4 sided spindles. i can not emphasize what a pita it is to stain those spindles...

i may have saved 3k but i have an annual project that i absolutely hate doing. i don't know what i was thinking at the time.
Last edited by miles monroe on Mon Jun 22, 2015 1:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

matonplayer
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by matonplayer » Mon Jun 22, 2015 1:28 pm

johnubc wrote:I have a composite deck (not Trex) and have had PT decks in the past.

No way would I go with a PT deck ever again. Splinters, warping, ugly, replacement of boards - no.

My deck is clean, hoses off and needs very little maintenance. It does not get hotter than a PT deck. If you really do not want composite, go with an IPE deck.
+1. We had a non-Trex (I forget the brand) deck with white PVC railing at our former house. Had it pressure-cleaned every other year or so. After twelve years it looked as good as new.

hackermb
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by hackermb » Mon Jun 22, 2015 1:34 pm

BTDT wrote:I built a composite deck on 12 inch centers eight years ago. Every couple of years I pressure wash it and it looks almost like new.

Also have composite on my dock and 100 foot ramp. Eleven years old with lots of moisture from rain and wave action and still looks good.

My sister has a dock in Phoenix (actually Tempe) that is made of a very hard wood that I think is from Brazil? It hat has held up well for the past five years
Thanks BTDT

Do you remember the brand you used?

hackermb
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by hackermb » Mon Jun 22, 2015 1:36 pm

johnubc wrote:I have a composite deck (not Trex) and have had PT decks in the past.

No way would I go with a PT deck ever again. Splinters, warping, ugly, replacement of boards - no.

My deck is clean, hoses off and needs very little maintenance. It does not get hotter than a PT deck. If you really do not want composite, go with an IPE deck.
thanks johnubc, do you remember the brand name of composite?

Also I like IPE by the price difference here in the midwest is as follows:

for 5/4 x 6" x 12'

PT - 8$
Composite - 35-50$
IPE - 85$

Thanks

stungerz
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by stungerz » Mon Jun 22, 2015 1:49 pm

There are different types of synthetic decks composites (wood chips and plastics) and 100% plastic.

My deck is about 4 years old and it is under maple and bunch of foliage so there are things constantly dropping on it.

I used timbertech ILM (100% synthetic) and it was very $$$ but it is very durable and easy to clean.

I've seen composites and they don't seem to age well so I would go with PT if those are your only choices

Cheers

davebo
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by davebo » Mon Jun 22, 2015 1:54 pm

I have composite decking (not sure if Trex or not) and I think it's great. I have not noticed the fading/staining issue and I definitely do not think it gets hotter than a normal deck; I've actually never noticed it was hot at all actually. The only thing we do is power wash it ever year or two and it looks great.

I'm at ground level so, personally, I don't know why the prior homeowners did not do stamped concrete or brick pavers. I think they just look a lot better. Decks are nice, but I like opening up to the yard.

tri-james
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by tri-james » Mon Jun 22, 2015 2:02 pm

BTDT wrote: My sister has a dock in Phoenix (actually Tempe) that is made of a very hard wood that I think is from Brazil? It hat has held up well for the past five years
+1 on the ipe. Very $$$ but durable and beautiful -

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB100008723 ... 1931357384

btenny
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by btenny » Mon Jun 22, 2015 2:32 pm

I suggest you put in composite decking but modify your deck structure to 12 inches on center supports (?? I think) . Anyway the supports for composite will be smaller than for regular wood so check where you buy the composite to make sure you get the new numbers.

I have two decks and a boat dock covered in composite in Tahoe. They are 12 years old and still look great. I never paint it or wash it or anything. The dock and one deck have steel supports so they should last at least 35-50 years. In Tahoe the decks have 3 feet of snow and ice on them all winter so they are weather proof. So far no sagging or warping but I do have "slightly rough surfaces". The stuff I have is not Trex but some off brand. The rough surfaces are sort of like ageing fiberglass that gives off little grey particles when you set on it in shorts.

Several of my neighbors have wooden docks that are falling down. They are 15-25 years or so old. The wood is grey and falling apart. So all the new docks put in today are composite and steel and no builder will install wooden docks.

On my old Tahoe house I had to redo and paint my wood deck every 3-5 years as the paint was flaking off constantly and peeling and just looked old. The deck was probably 25 years old. It only looked OK for 4 weeks or so right after I painted it fresh for the season. You could not set on it either without seat covers as you would get splinters and cuts on your legs.

But in Arizona I have the best deck of all. Down there my patio is poured concrete right on the ground. It is about 10 feet by 32 feet. It is about 4 inches higher than my lawn that butts right against it. That deck is then covered with nice Mexican tile and covered overhead with a fixed roof and fans and lights. It gets washed off with a water hose for cleaning. It never needs painting. It always looks great.

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htdrag11
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by htdrag11 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 2:45 pm

We had Trex for over 10 years. It replaced a PT one and my wife is still very happy. The cost was at least 2x at the time. Our deck has southern exposure.

1) She did not think it gets as hot as PT.
2) Little maintenance, other than some algae.
3) It was a professional job (ouch!!) but you do not see any screws (my MIL's HD special Trex both warped and got nails/screws on top, a rather eyesore to my wife).
4) There is no warping.
5) At the time, Trex do not have railings yet; that is too bad since the PT portion is needed to be replaced.
6) No splinter.

My wife has no regret. She brought home the bacon. :moneybag

jeff1949
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by jeff1949 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 3:02 pm

htdrag11 wrote:We had Trex for over 10 years. It replaced a PT one and my wife is still very happy. The cost was at least 2x at the time. Our deck has southern exposure.

1) She did not think it gets as hot as PT.
2) Little maintenance, other than some algae.
3) It was a professional job (ouch!!) but you do not see any screws (my MIL's HD special Trex both warped and got nails/screws on top, a rather eyesore to my wife).
4) There is no warping.
5) At the time, Trex do not have railings yet; that is too bad since the PT portion is needed to be replaced.
6) No splinter.

My wife has no regret. She brought home the bacon. :moneybag
This has pretty much been my experience except that my Trex decking is 16 years old. I just now got through power washing it and it looks brand new! I had a choice of inch and one eighth or inch and a half material. I went with the thinner material and on 12 inch centers. I also installed a large cedar deck at the same time but it requires much more maintenance, mainly reapplying a stain.

likegarden
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by likegarden » Mon Jun 22, 2015 3:15 pm

I live in upstate NY. Our Pressure Treated lumber deck gets 4 hrs direct sun, and a lot of snow in winter. This deck is in 2 parts 10x20 and 10x10 with steps and benches, and is 28 years old. There was never any splintering. I paint it with a Behr solid deck stain with a roller every 3 years, use one can of stain. Initially there were longitudinal cracks which I sanded over with my own belt sander and filled with stain. Deck is not worn and rotted or warped after 28 years, is stabilized, will last forever so it seems. This is not extra work, but is basic DIY house maintenance you have to do to live in a house.

I would not use cedar. I had cedar fences in the front, parts of which rotted away in spite of staining, starting after 10 years. In case you want wood, then use PT lumber. I replaced my cedar fences with aluminum, no more maintenance.

carolinaman
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by carolinaman » Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:17 pm

miles monroe wrote:
my deck has 122 4 sided spindles. i can not emphasize what a pita it is to stain those spindles...

.
I just reapplied semi transparent stain to my large deck last week. I used a sprayer and it went really fast. It only took 4 to 5 hours for 12 x 21 foot deck, including time to cover side of house and shrubs with newspaper for overspray. Last year I brush painted my smaller deck and the spindles took forever. Never again.

Globalviewer58
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by Globalviewer58 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:49 pm

Happy with the Lowes house brand Choice Deck from 5 years ago. Still looks fine. A detail to investigate is how the railing system attaches to the frame. For example, PT posts are strong enough that the post can be bolted to the outside of the rim joist. The Choice Deck posts required a box frame inside the rim joist. This method requires additional width to achieve a given usable stairway width.

dhodson
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by dhodson » Mon Jun 22, 2015 5:04 pm

Our new deck is made of Ipe. Super hard wood. No splinters and wears well. It however doesn't keep a stain bc it's so hard. We go natural with color at this point.

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dumbbunny
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by dumbbunny » Mon Jun 22, 2015 5:28 pm

No! Best purchase I ever made in terms of making my life easier.
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G12
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by G12 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 5:50 pm

I have no experience with composite planking. We had a covered deck built to replace an open deck of PT wood almost 6-years ago that was probably 15-20 years old and used prime grade PT wood. The initial water based semi-transparent stain on the entire area under the roof looks almost new, the stairs and a small area just off the deck need cleaning and re-staining every 3-years but it's not much area. One poster commented on wooden spindles, we used coated aluminum that looks very nice and requires no maintenance, think they are made by deckmates. I live in GA and get plenty of sun, rain, some ice and snow. Living here I would never have an uncovered deck again.

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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by The Wizard » Mon Jun 22, 2015 6:16 pm

Composite is better when installed properly.
PT splinters at some point.
Important to use properly spaced joists to avoid springy sensation.
Stainless fasteners are good, too, don't skimp...
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Slick8503
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by Slick8503 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 7:16 pm

During our farm house remodel we built a front porch and back deck. We used Home Depot's Veranda brand synthetic boards in Brazillian walnut. These were the cheapest "capped composite" board that I could find. It also helped that my wife and I loved the color.
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Veranda-Armo ... ian+walnut

They are made by Fiberon. I researched this company and it seemed as though they were well thought of. I love the boards. We sprung for the hidden fasteners. We used the Veranda brand hidden fasteners on the back deck which used 12 foot boards. Attaching them is slow going, but not hard. They were $$$ though. The front used 8 foot boards. At our local Home Depot the 8' boards did not have the groove cut into the edge for the Veranda hidden fastener system, but I found a product called CAMO fasteners and they worked great! Much cheaper than the Veranda fasteners also. I was leery of using the CAMO setup at first because apparently the synthetic board manufacturers may not honor the warranty if they are used instead of their brand but I'm glad I decided to go ahead with it. It was a much faster/easier/cheaper install than with the Veranda fasteners. I would be more apprehensive to use the CAMO setup on anything other than the 8' boards however. All the other lengths have the groove cut into the side and the 8 footers are solid. I would worry that with the groove cut out the CAMO system wouldn't fasten as well as it does with a solid board. CAMO does offer a bit to use with grooved boards so it is an option.

I believe all of the early "composite" boards and some that are still available have a bad reputation for mildew and mold because they are a composite of real wood and synthetic materials all the way through. The real wood is still subject to mildew etc. The Veranda boards and others are a "capped compostite" that has a PVC "cap" over the top that prevents mildew and makes them easy to clean and adds durability.

On edit: Almost forgot to mention that we went with the Veranda brand railing in white as well. Much cheaper than any of the other major brands like Trex. The railing came in pre assembled sections. I believe you could get them in 6 and 8' lengths. They are not fancy but I loved the idea of not having to stain spindles. I think they look great.

I was able to use my Chase Ink card to buy Home Depot email gift cards from Staples for 5 Chase points per dollar for all the materials for this project.

user5027
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Re: Will I regret using Composite Decking instead of PT Decking

Post by user5027 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 8:05 pm

johnep wrote:
miles monroe wrote:
my deck has 122 4 sided spindles. i can not emphasize what a pita it is to stain those spindles...

.
I just reapplied semi transparent stain to my large deck last week. I used a sprayer and it went really fast. It only took 4 to 5 hours for 12 x 21 foot deck, including time to cover side of house and shrubs with newspaper for overspray. Last year I brush painted my smaller deck and the spindles took forever. Never again.
I have spindles and always used a paint glove.

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