Choosing composite decking


  #1  
Old 09-25-06, 01:36 PM
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Question Choosing composite decking

Hello,

I'm replacing my wood decking with a composite decking material and I'm a bit flumoxed by the choice of composites out there. The first thing that got my attention is the price which ranges from $28 - $45 for a 16' length. The big box stores (Lowes, HD) are at the lower end for price and I'm inclined to go with them - my deck is quite large.

As with tools, however, I've found that you get what you pay for. Is there any compelling reason to go with the more expensive composite board? I did find out that the HD composite - Fiberon Veranda brand - uses oak as a wood additive while the Fiberon Professional brand uses maple - 15 vs 20 year warranty respectively.

Can anyone give me a bit of guidance here? Any help is appreciated.

Thanks,
Bob
 
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Old 09-25-06, 01:44 PM
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Higher priced materials are supposed to hold their color better. Lighter colors also tend to fade less and absorb less heat from the sun, so that walking on them isn't painful.
 
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Old 09-27-06, 09:27 AM
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Just got Veranda in the buff/sand color at Home Depot. Love the look however they delivered it in the rain and it sat in our garage for 3 months, so by the time we were ready to install it, it had dirt/mold marks everywhere. Tried cleaning with soap, didn't work, got composite deck cleaner and scrubbed until my arms fell off, got most off but the guy at HD said Veranda stains bad, Trex is better. We went with Veranda b/c I like the light color, where the Trex was dark and we heard it would get too hot in the summer, now I am wishing we purchased the Trex for a cleaning reason only. Other than that, love it, took three drills to install, one to predrill into the floor joist one to predrill the composite, and one with the bit for the screws, very tedious, tons of screws!!
Veranda is slightly thinner so you should have floor joists 12" on center instead of 16", if you already have 16" go with the Trex.
Good luck, but do your research!!!
 
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Old 10-07-06, 12:46 PM
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Our experience with Trex

This may not answer your questions, but I'll relate our experience with Trex.

We installed Trex on our deck four years ago. Our deck was very small, more of a porch really, about 96 sq ft. We enlarged it to about 400 sq ft, replaced joists, posts, new footings, etc. It's about two feet above grade.

We used the Trex Winchester Gray color. It has a 25 year limited warranty. When we purchased it, there weren't any options for the wood grain look. It is now called Trex Origins. Over the past few years it has faded to a light gray, as advertised. All the boards are pretty consistent in color. We have one shady section that took longer to fade, but it finally did.

The cost was 1.80 per linear foot for the 5/4X6 boards (it was on "sale"). The fascia boards cost more per foot, but I don't remember how much. The Trex dealer included large yellow plastic spacers with our order, handy for spacing the deck boards. I had to pay for the special composite-type deck screws. I think delivery was included in the sale price since we had a large order.

As I recall, Trex recommended joist spacing of 16" for the 5/4X6 boards. We spaced ours at 12".

Bad Things: Trex will stain when coming into contact with any type of animal fat, i.e., dropped hotdogs, burgers, bbq grill splashes, etc. You have to be careful and get the stain fast. It's possible to sand out the stain, but it depends on how much grease has been absorbed.

In the cold months we sometimes get a thin layer of frost. The kind of frost that melts as soon as the sun hits it. Our Trex gets very slippery under these conditions. Like walking on an ice rink with sneakers.

If you use the thin fascia boards, be sure to use screws every 12" or so. I first used them every 24". As the framing wood contracted, the fascia buckled. Ended up pulling off fascia and reinstalling. That was two years ago, so far so good. The deck boards have not buckled.

Our neighbor also installed Trex but used the Sandstone color. He's not happy with how it has faded. He said it looks like wet cardboard, I agree. And some of his boards have swelled up along the edges. He's still trying to get replacement boards from Trex.


Good Things: Unless you're right on the edge of the board, no predrilling required for composite deck screws. The screw will pull the deck material into the hole as it seats. If you use a standard screw, you can get mushrooms. The composite screw ends up flush with the surface. It's visible, but, to my eyes, it looks good.

Watching the kids run barefoot and not worrying about splinters. On sunny days the surface can get hot, but not too bad (we're in western WA, Kitsap Peninsula).

It's pretty easy to clean. Once a year, after the fir trees have dropped their pollen, I use a push broom with stiff bristles and the recommended deck cleaner (phosphoric acid or sodium hypochlorite). It cleans off any moss and dirt pretty easily.

Trex boards will expand/contract based on temperature, not moisture. We mitred the boards on the steps and sometimes there are gaps.

Overall, I'd use Trex again. I guess the big selling point is the maintenance cost over the life of the deck. I bought one gallon of deck cleaner a few years ago and it's still more than half full. Also, I'd let the framing lumber dry a little longer before installing. I used treated lumber that was pretty wet.

Hope this helps.

PS - Another enduring Good Thing: I got to buy a cement mixer and composite mitre saw for this project...
 
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Old 10-08-06, 09:33 AM
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rab8915,

Welcome to DoItYourself.com and the Deck forum.

There is a large range in prices for good reasons, and the two that top the list are quality and warranty.

First, just how big (in square feet) is "quite large"?? I have bids out on 2 decks right now that are over 2,000 sq. ft. I would call them 'quite large'. I looked at one yesterday that was a bit under 300 sq. ft. The owner called it "a large deck".

You mentioned prices at $28 for 16" ($1.75 per ft.) to $45 for 16' ($2.80 per ft.) So your cost difference between those two is going to be about $225 for every 100 sq. ft. of deck. Those are about the two extremes in price -- most composites fall somewhere in between.

What is your existing framing? If the joists are 24" O.C., there are only a few composites that will span that. (Geo and Bella Rosa come to mind.) The rest (most) will require that you add a joist between each of your existing to reduce the span to less than 16". Factor that cost in too.

And be prepared -- once you start removing your existing deck boards, you may well find that the joists all have to be replaced. It really doesn't make sense to spend the money on a composite that has a 15 or 20 year warranty, and put it on joists that only have 5 years of life left in them!!
 
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Old 02-07-09, 07:38 AM
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Fiberon Tropics

I compared a lot of different options and ended up going with Fiberon Tropics. It looks great, is easily mounted using hidden TigerClaw fasteners for a pro look, and was less expensive than Trex. You can check out the entire project at The Ayrlee House Deck Remodeling Project where I posted some high resolution pictures so you can check it out. I've had it over a year now, and it looks good still.

hope this help,

Dave
 
 

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