Decking Options for Your Deck
Warm summer days and balmy star-filled nights have homeowners venturing outdoors – ready 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 nasty winter weather.
However, today, things can be different for those who know how to avoid this dreary chore and who – at the first sign of summer – prefer to drag out the sun screen and barbecue tools, instead of industrial strength cleaners, brushes and carpentry tools.
Wood is good; technology is better! Since the beginning of time, man has used the abundant beauty of natural wood to build everything – from basic shelter to peaceful outdoor habitats. And through the ages, man quickly learned that the beauty and durability of nature’s wonderful gift was only 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 (not far behind) the welcoming of destructive insects.
So what’s the answer for those who want the warmth and beauty of a natural wood deck without all the headaches and maintenance? Simple. Technology — giving Mother Nature a hand.
Many things in our world today are better due to new technology, and wood is no exception. Today, a number of manufacturers now offer revolutionary new alternative products that end these age-old wood problems once and for all.
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.
How? First, new hi-tech 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 are also easy to install – using standard tools – and can be more maintenance free for many reasons.
1) 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 for faster, easier installation and a better fastener-free appearance when finished.
2) 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.
3) Third, engineer wood decking with a wood grained embossed surface offers superior slip resistance underfoot making engineered wood a great choice around swimming pools, hot tubs and whirlpool spas.
4) Fourth, engineered decking surfacing is both finish free (requiring no stain or sealer after installation) and basically maintenance free for many years to come. After about 6 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 versus requiring new timber to be cut and milled. It’s a good thing.
Now you may be thinking it’s too late for your deck – which is cracking, warping, stained, splintering, rotting and host to growing numbers of wood boring insects. (Where was engineered deck surfacing when you needed it, you say?)
Well fear not. Like many homeowners, you too can quickly and easily replace those unsightly, unsafe, time-wasting wood plank eyesores with engineered decking for all the same benefits and maintenance free living. Just as though you had done so, long ago on day one!
By and large, this exciting new engineered decking costs less than wood too! Consider that for an average 12’ X 20’ 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.
Spring has sprung, and if you’re out cleaning, re-sealing and repairing your deck (instead of relaxing, barbecuing and entertaining) and you happen to notice that your neighbor (gasp) is… it only means they’ve probably seen a write-up somewhere (like this one) and have gone to their local lumber yard or home center and brought home a happier summer. You can too. Just put down those brushes and tools, and pick up a little “better living through technology.”
There’s still plenty of warm weather left to enjoy this year… and maybe you can beat your neighbor by being the first one into the lounge chair next year. Check out engineered decking and start living the easy life in the great outdoors. Now you know how.