Building deck and gazebo - Wood or Composite?

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Old 12-13-07, 05:25 PM
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Building deck and gazebo - Wood or Composite?

We are going to entirely replace our existing deck (structural and everything). We are going to build an open deck and a large screened in gazebo where we will have a nice outdoorr dining set and some furniture. We live in VA and the back of our house faces South so the deck gets sun all day long. I am looking at pressure treated, IPE and Composite. Any advice on which to use or suggestions appreciated. Thanks
 
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Old 12-14-07, 07:59 AM
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I wouldn't recommend using pressure treated because the boards are soaked in chemicals and you get man splinters after a couple years. I also wouldn't recommend composite decking because each brand of composite decking has had many issues which would include mold + mildew build up, warping, cupping, and severe color fading. If you want an earful on composite decking problems visit: http://www.squidoo.com/decking_material

What I would recommend is a hardwood decking material like Ipe, Tigerwood, Cumaru, or Garapa. Hardwood decks will last up to 40+ years with low maintenance and will maintain their beauty with a simple UV Inhibitor applied so the sun doesn't bleach the wood (basically like sunscreen for your deck). They are naturally resistant to mold, mildew, insect attack, and decay. Also because hardwood decking has such tight grain it won’t splinter so its great to walk on barefoot for years and years.

Tigerwood is similar to Ipe but has more of an exotic look and your pretty much guaranteed no one in your neighborhood will have a deck made with it, it's exotic and a little cheaper than Ipe.

You can order any hardwood decking material from Advantage Lumber www.advantagelumber.com They are the only ones I trust anymore, all of their decking is premium grade not select grade so there is no sap wood. Also if you get any damaged boards during shipping they replace them promptly which is important for a contractor like myself completing a deck project.

One more note you should opt for the Ipe Clip hidden deck fasteners so you don't have any unsightly screw holes in your deck
 
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Old 12-14-07, 07:56 PM
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Cecilt,

I'll agree with thedeckman, TO A POINT!

Wood is out. the chemicals involed, the fact that it won't last more than about 15 years, all of the upkeep in resealing it every year or two, ...

That leaves a composite or a hardwood, like Ipe, etc.

True enough, the hardwoods will last 25 to 30 years, but will the framing??? I doubt it. Almost nobody builds their decks so that the lifespan of the framing will match the lifespan of the decking. I do!!

Most composites have a 20 or 25 year warranty. The framing needs to be done so that it'll last that long as well.

Pressure treated lumber for the framing, seal the cut ends before it's assembled, Vycor on the joist tops, ... It gets time consuming and there is certainly some extra expense involved. But for an investment the size of a deck ($18 to $25 per sq. ft., and railing from $60 to $100 per linear ft., put the extra $200 and 5 or 6 hours into it as you are building it.

The hardwoods that thedeckman mentioned are a lot more money than a composite, and a lot more labor intensive. Most of my customers opt for the middle ground, a composite. Right now, composites are probably 50% to 60% of the deck market, and the farther west you get, the higher the percentage is.
 
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Old 12-16-07, 08:26 AM
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Lefty or Deckman: Is there a composite out there you would recommend. I was looking at CorrectDeck CX since it has the mildew protection. Any other recommendations. Seems CorrectDeck got a bad rap early on. not sure if I should stay away from them. Also, Trek is a popular name but also seems to have a lot of problems. Just not sure if they are older issues that have been resolved. If I go composite should I go hidden fastner or screws? Thanks
 
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Old 12-16-07, 10:06 AM
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Cecilt,

Buying a deck is a lot like buying a car. There are a lot of brands to choose from and the options seem to be endless.

You will be limited in your brand choices by what brands your local retailers happen to carry. There are about 85 to 90 brands on the market. You will probably have about 10 to 15 of those to actually select from.

Trex ran into problems about 4 years ago, but they have since been resolved. And they haven't batted an eye about standing behind the product that did go bad on them. Weather Best, Ever Grain, Elements and Azek are a few others that I've had good luck with (no problems for my customers).

Face screwing is faster and less expensive than a hidden fastening system. There are screws made specifically for composites so you don't get 'mushrooming'. All of the mfgrs. of those screws offer them in a range of colors that blend in or match the decking colors available. Which way you choose to go will depend on the look that you want and are willing to pay for, both in added expense and added time if you opt for a hidden fastener system.
 
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Old 12-16-07, 10:24 AM
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I try to build my decks so the framing lasts. Time will tell whether the new formulations of pressure treated will last as long as it's predecessor.

I've seen no evidence that composites have got anywhere near the 50% usage rate that Lefty says. I build with mainly ipe (80%), composites (10%), redwood and others (10%). Others may be heavier to the composites.

I can actually get ipe for less then most of the composites in my area, but not by much. I would call it a wash.

I have used the ipe clips, but would not recommend them. They allow too much movement in the wood. We use Headcote trim head SS screws.

Composites probably have less movement, other then expansion and contraction with tempeture. I have heard that some of the clip systems work better with the composites.

That said, we had to return to a composite deck we had built to remove some boards. A cat had passed away under the deck. We had face screwed the decking, so it was no problem (other then the smell). It would have been a pain had we used hidden connectors.
 
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Old 12-17-07, 08:16 PM
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I called a local building supplier and they carry Monarch, Timbertech, Trek and one other. They can get the Monarch immediately as the supplier is nearby. Therefore, they said you can order less and if you need more they can get it to me in the same day or next. If I order too much they can take the excess back. The others are special order and not as lenient. Any experience with Monarch? The salesperson recommended IPE but said the price has gone through the roof in the last couple weeks.
 
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Old 12-18-07, 07:46 PM
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Cecilt,

NOW you are starting to play the game.

I've never installed a Timbertech deck. I've never heard of Monarch. Trex and the other one are special order, so you would order just a BIT more than you need and eat the rest.

Now, try ANOTHER supplier and see what they offer. The names will change, but the policy will be the same. If it's a brand that they carry, or at least deal with A LOT, you'll be able to order a couple of extra boards or return a couple of excess boards. If it's special order, you buy it, you eat it

You are still shopping -- get the one that you like best. YOU are going to be living with the deck for many years.

If you choose to go a special order route, plan accordingly. DO NOT under buy, but don't go crazy on overbuying either. PLAN it so that you know how much you need. Figure out the SQUARE FOOTAGE, then multiply that by 2.2. That's you linear footage needed (assuming that the decking is being laid square to the joists, not diagonally). I usually add a 10% factor to that, but if it's special order, don't add more than 5%, then CUT CAREFULLY. You'll end up with an extra deck board or two, and that's what you'll have to eat. But, $50 or $100 of deck boards on a $5k or $6k project is just what it is.
 
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Old 03-17-08, 11:35 AM
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Consider Geodeck

About a year ago I posted my experience with Geodeck in this thread
http://forum.doityourself.com/showth...ight=composite

I won't write it all out again here, but Geo has one unique advantage over everything else: it's textured with a wirebrush finish.

It doesn't get scratched easily, but if it does you can take a wire brush or a serrated knife and make the marks go away in two minutes.

The finish also looks "woody" without being being a phony embossed grain.

Geodeck is colorfast, and because it's hollow it won't give your feet second degree burns in the summertime.
 
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Old 03-17-08, 06:10 PM
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Hal Boutham,

I've installed Geo on one deck and I didn't like it.

Weather Best also has a brushed finish on one side, and all of their railing components are made with the brushed finish.

As far as the temp. issue, I've installed 7 or 8 brands of decking all around the northstate, in just about every color available. Except for the REALLY dark colors, like Trex Woodland Brown or Maderia, I have yet to find an unbearable brand or color. The dark gray Geo was one of the warmer ones -- hollow had nothing to do with the temp.

Granted, my "test" was anything but scientific. I just took my shoes off and walked on several decks barefoot when the temp was 110 to 115, and all of the decks I walked on were either on the south or west side of the customer's house.
 
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Old 03-18-08, 08:21 AM
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Hi Mr. Lefty

That's good to know about Weather Best, because a brushed finish just makes a lot of sense.

The results of your (unscientific) tests on plank temperature have made me curious. Unless someone chimes in with semi-definitive information, I'll probably try laying some planks out in the sun this summer and see what happens.

I'd imagine that, if nothing else, solid planks stay hot longer in the evening (and conversely, heat up more slowly on summer mornings).
 

Last edited by Hal Boutham; 03-18-08 at 08:26 AM. Reason: dumb mistake
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Old 03-19-08, 05:56 PM
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Hal Boutham,

It seems as though scratch resistance is pretty high on your list.

The most difficult decking to scratch is Azek.

It's virtually impossible to stain as well, with things like BBQ sauce, ketchup, red wine, etc. You won't find that in ANY composite!
 
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