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Decking Options

Warm summer days and balmy star-filled nights have homeowners venturing outdoors, eager for lazy fun and barbecues. But all too often, relaxing and entertaining has to be put on hold until wood decks are cleaned, refinished or repaired due to the ravages of winter.

Today things are different for those who know how to avoid this dreary chore and who, at the first sign of summer, prefer sun screen and barbecue tools to industrial strength cleaners, brushes and carpentry tools.

Since the beginning of time, man has used natural wood to build everything from basic shelter to peaceful outdoor habitats. And through the ages, man learned that the beauty and durability of nature's wonderful gift was temporary at best.

Why? First, time takes it's toll. As natural moisture content evaporates, wood soon becomes dry and brittle. Along with cracking and warping, it rapidly begins to deteriorate. Wood fibers separate, lumber shrinks, splinters appear and fasteners start losing their grip.

Soon the elements...rain, ice, snow and even dew...drive pervasive new moisture into every tiny crack and crevice, leading to eventual wood rot and the invasion of destructive insects.

Many things in our world today are better due to technology, and wood is no exception. Today, a number of manufacturers offer revolutionary new alternative products that end these age-old wood problems.

We're talking about new engineered composite materials...made from recycled wood and space-age plastics...that look and feel like natural wood, that cut and install like standard lumber, and yet that are far superior in virtually every respect.

New deck surfacing materials offer the best of both worlds. For example, hybrid products such as TimberTech are roughly two-thirds natural recycled wood particles and one-third virgin plastic.

The result: a richly grained deck surfacing material that looks, acts and feels like natural wood, but with vastly reduced moisture absorption that eliminates warp, bow, split and decay. That ends termite and insect attacks and keeps wood looking good, maintenance free, and ready for use (when you're ready).

Engineered wood products also are easy to install using standard tools, and can be more maintenance-free for many reasons:

First, engineered wood products with a tongue-and-groove design use far fewer (hidden from sight) fasteners than conventional surface-mount nailing or deck-screw techniques. This means faster, easier installation and a better fastener-free appearance when finished.

Second, the snug tongue-and-groove design eliminates wide cracks between boards, and engineered drain holes on the tongue of each plank helps keep top surfaces dry.

Third, engineered wood decking with a wood-grained, embossed surface offers superior slip-resistance underfoot, making it a great choice around swimming pools, hot tubs and whirlpool spas.

Fourth, this surfacing is both finish-free (requiring no stain or sealer after installation) and basically maintenance-free for many years. After about six to 12 weeks of exposure to sunlight and weather, the wood particles in engineered products turn a natural looking gray driftwood color. In hot, dry climates, weathered tones become light brown. And while not needed, you can use oil-based paint or solid color stains if you wish.

Also, engineered decking is friendly to the environment as it recycles existing wood as opposed to requiring new timber to be cut and milled.

You might be thinking it's too late for your deck which is cracking, warping, stained, splintering, rotting and host to a growing number of wood-boring insects.

Fear not. Like many homeowners, you too can quickly and easily replace those unsightly, unsafe, time-wasting wood plank eyesores with engineered decking.

By and large, engineered decking costs less than wood. For an average 12 foot by 20 foot deck, the installed cost is far less than cedar, about the same as redwood, and while slightly more than pressure-treated woods, a lower comparable maintenance cost over time still makes it a better deal over the long haul.

Check out engineered decking and start living the easy life in the great outdoors.

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