Composite Deck Boards: Low maintenance building materials
Composite deck boards have replaced traditional lumber in many exterior applications due to their longevity and resistance to rot and warping. There are variations in quality, price and performance and due diligence should be exercised prior to choosing composite deck boards for building decks and porches. They will need to be thoroughly cleaned occasionally but are considered to be low maintenance if properly installed.
Pros and Cons of Composite Deck Boards
There are a few pros and cons of composite deck boards to consider prior to purchase. Composite deck boards are constructed from various materials, including wood pulp, vinyl and plastics some of which may be recycled from old plastic bottles. In some cases the boards containing wood pulp have developed a black mold and stains which are difficult to remove, however most manufacturers have worked to eliminate this problem. Knowing the composition of the deck boards prior to purchase as well as the guarantee they carry should help to alleviate any concerns. Most companies have changed their guarantee from no maintenance to low maintenance as they decking does require cleaning with chemicals periodically to maintain a near new look. This cleaning may leave a short term powder residue; however that will eventually dissipate and not be noticeable.
The support system used under the composite deck boards is generally constructed using a wood frame, for this reason the entire structure may not last much longer than if it were created using wood throughout. The centers are recommended to be set closer than the 16 inch generally used for wood construction to prevent sagging of the composite deck boards. Even spacing problems are the same as with wood boards, there may be slight curvatures that need to be worked out while laying each plank. Being careful to countersink the screws to avoid mushrooming of the planks may require pre-drilling, however that is often necessary with traditional wood planks as well.
Composite deck boards are considered overall to last longer than wood boards with considerably less maintenance when installed correctly. Many companies do an excellent of job of simulating the texture and grain of real wood when creating their composite boards. They may be installed with an overhang and trimmed after the job is completed in most instances. Lay each plank, just as with real wood planks, to ensure that the ends break in different spots to ensure not only a good finished look but to help create a stronger deck.
Shopping for Composite Deck Boards
Shopping for composite deck boards can be accomplished locally through lumber yards and building centers, although most will carry only one or two brands of product. They may have different lines and qualities of composite deck boards within each brand. Shopping online for composite deck boards will present many more choices and allow customers to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges while shopping. Price comparisons as well as quality of construction will likely be two of the main objectives once a particular color and style of composite is chosen. Additional product lines which include materials for building railings and steps should be available to complement the composite deck boards once chosen.
Pricing Composite Deck Boards
Pricing composite deck boards may be listed in either linear foot or square foot with linear pricing being the most common. Prices for a basic board may begin as low as $1.29 per linear foot for closeouts and clearances. Online auction sites may offer lower pricing, however choosing boards which come with a warranty is generally recommended. Overall most lines will begin in the $1.75 range and go higher from there, depending on the style and the warranty chosen.
Composite deck boards have been created which closely simulate most types of wood used for exterior application. Redwood and mahogany style boards are very popular choices in composite decking materials as are lighter woods such as pine. Gray and white are two popular choices which resemble painted wood due to the grains. Many composite deck boards are now constructed to the avoid pitfalls with which they were originally associated. They may have texture, grain or a finish to prevent them from being slicker than regular wood when wet. Another concern in the past was damage from sunlight as well as from heating and cooling. Most companies have reports available to the consumers when purchasing to determine whether the line of decking they have chosen will stand up to the weather in their locations. With proper installation, care and maintenance composite deck boards should last close to 25 years.
Most purchasers of composite deck boards will want to ensure they have a warranty, so if purchasing from auctions whether online or in person, make sure the warranty is transferrable and included with the product. This is just a wise precaution when making a large ticket purchase.