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Old 05-19-2011, 07:39 PM   #1
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Small composite deck-which brand to go with?


Hello, I am trying to get information as far as the difference between composite decking. I live in a townhome and the deck will be small (approx. 7x14). I have been told there are many differences as far as quality, what is used, etc. I also live in the northeast (PA) so we have a variety of weather issues and experience all four seasons (spring, summer, winter, fall) unlike other areas of the U.S.

It appears many of the products have a cellulose and/or wood fiber content of nearly 50% of the volume of the product and in some it can climb to nearly 70%. This equals more of a chance of rot. I have also read that there was a study done by several renowned scientists a couple years ago indicated that the wood fibers and other cellulose products used in the composite decking products they tested can and does rot if they're not treated with a preservative. The wood and/or cellulose fibers not only can be readily seen at the surface of the products and at all cut edges, they are randomly interconnected throughout the entire length, width and depth of each board. Water can and does soak into many of the composite decking materials and this water fuels the wood rot process in those materials that do not contain a preservative.

I was told that now there are over 90 different composite decking companies since TREX came out in the early 90's. With that said, which brand has the better warranty AND is better quality? I like TimberTech and Veranda but the warranties are totally different. Veranda offers a 20 year stain and fade warranty BUT no mold/mildew protection. TimberTech has a longer warranty (25 year) against staining along with mold/mildew BUT cannot warranty any fading.

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Old 05-19-2011, 09:16 PM   #2
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Small composite deck-which brand to go with?


Timber Tech has a good reputation around here. have you considered solid pvc or pvc with a composite core?

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Old 05-20-2011, 07:53 AM   #3
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Small composite deck-which brand to go with?


storm....Timbertech Evolutions. Composite wrapped in PVC. 25 year stain and fade warranty. Check out their site.
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Old 05-21-2011, 10:57 AM   #4
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Small composite deck-which brand to go with?


Ok, I will definitly be making sure I go to a dealer to take a look for myself.

Just a note, I will be hiring a contractor to do the work (I am female, which shouldn't matter but...) and I would like to be educated on this project that is going to take place. Such as the type of fasterner, wether hidden or go with color-matched screws? How to set footings and piers (expecially in hard clay with a high water table), etc.

Anotherwords, any words of advice is appreciated. I don't want to hire a contractor thinking he is dealing with dumb-able and take advantage of me being female, but a somewhat educated woman on the subject.

I'll be waiting for any replies..thanks!!
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Old 05-21-2011, 08:43 PM   #5
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Small composite deck-which brand to go with?


make sure they poor concrete footings, and make sure they go below the frostline in your area. Here in Mass that means 4' deep. Any framing members they use should either be Pressure treated or equivalent. The wooden piers or posts should not be set in the concrete footings. They should be attached with a mechanical fastener.Simpson strong Tie fasteners are typically used. Wood should never be placed directly into the concrete.
Hidden fasteners are great but are pricey. But if you only have a small deck and you are going with good materials i would definitely recommend them.
Check with the decking company to find out what is recommended for joist spacing. Composite and other like materials usually should not exceed 16" on center spacing. This also goes for any stair stringers. Post should be installed firmly and should have no wiggle in them. There are a few different ways to do it, but just make sure they are sturdy. Rail should be at 38-42" off the top of the deck and balusters should be spaced so that there is no more than a 4" space between them. Mention all this in your conversations with the contractors and make sure they follow through. These are some of the main things to watch out for. Maybe others will chime in with additional comments.
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Old 05-21-2011, 09:22 PM   #6
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Small composite deck-which brand to go with?


Hi Stormchaser.
We're looking at having our deck resurfaced and have been looking at a lot of products. I'd recommend a PVC wrapped composite core like Trex or a PVC product like Azec. Timbertech is good product but seemed a little pricier. I've also seen some that have channels inside to help them keep cooler in the sun, but can't remember the brand.
Basically, they will all weather well but the PVC wrap is heavier and will retain a little heat.
I like hidden fastener, but that is personal choice. Another nice detail is to ensure they picture frame the deck so you don't see the ends of the deck boards.
Good luck!
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Old 05-22-2011, 10:23 AM   #7
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Small composite deck-which brand to go with?


+1 on the picture frame. It adds a nice touch. I did it on mine and it looks great.
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Old 05-22-2011, 02:32 PM   #8
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+1 on the picture frame. It adds a nice touch. I did it on mine and it looks great.
Picture frame? Can you explain or maybe download a pic?
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Old 05-22-2011, 02:36 PM   #9
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Small composite deck-which brand to go with?


here is a pic on this site. Look at the upper section and look at the border that surrounds the deck. It is not necessary by any means but it is visually appealing http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...uEWSlg&cad=rja
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Old 05-23-2011, 07:07 AM   #10
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Small composite deck-which brand to go with?


storm...heres all the info you should need. http://www.awc.org/publications/DCA/DCA6/DCA6-09.pdf

Where in Pa. are you located? Frost line here is 36"
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Old 05-23-2011, 10:01 AM   #11
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storm...heres all the info you should need. http://www.awc.org/publications/DCA/DCA6/DCA6-09.pdf

Where in Pa. are you located? Frost line here is 36"

I'm just south of your near Montgomery/Chester counties.
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Old 05-24-2011, 10:49 AM   #12
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Small composite deck-which brand to go with?


Doing a similar project to my house. Building some new front steps/porch and was looking at all the same products. I started with the composites because of the low maintenance that they say they have, but then I did more research and read more forums that I care to admit. Basically what I came away with is two fold. Make sure that the joists are properly spaced. Not all composites can site 16" OC, some must be installed 12" OC. Not a major thing, but a thing nonetheless. The second piece is that I have heard horror stories with customer service. So actually getting something back with a warranty may prove difficult.

I am not trying to steer you away from composites, I truly do like the look, but I have circled back to what I feel truly looks the best, plain old wood. Yes I will have to stain/protect it every year or two, but it looks great and typically is a fraction of the cost of composite.

Not sure if you have a Menards by you, but they have presurre treated lumber calle AC2 by MircoPro that has a cedar tone to it that looks really nice also with a 25 year warranty. That was the big hang up, I didn't want the green color on my front steps which was the draw to the composite world.

All in all, just do your research, but realize that all types, whether wood/composite/PVC will all require some sort of maintenance.

Just my two cents.

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