The question we
hear more often than any other is "What is the best composite
decking material?" The answer is that it really depends on what
you are looking for.
Most professional deck
contractors have a favorite composite decking they choose
to work with. They usually have worked with quite a few brands
before settling on one product that they really like. It may
seem strange to find out that they don't all select the same
material and base their decision on different reasons.
As a Do-It-Yourself builder you will only get one chance to
get it right. Most homeowners are drawn to composites
because they are considered low maintenance.
We feel that you should
approach choosing a composite decking material as a orderly
process. This way you can reduce the 100 or more products to a
manageable list of choices.
The first step is to reference list of approved
decking materials. All of the composite materials on this list
have Evaluation Service Reports verifying that they meet the
structural building code requirements for use. If the product
is not on this list your local building department may not be
allow you to build with it.
Composite decking materials
truly have improved over the last decade. Most old problems
like mold and mildew have improved. Nevertheless it is
important to find a product that has a good warranty in case of
a problem. You can find the details and lengths of the
warranties on all of the products webpages or from the
lumberyard where you purchase the materials.
The appearance of the material
is a very important and personal decision. There is a wide
range of colors, textures and installation systems available.
Find out if the colors will fade or if the surface will easily
stain or scratch. Getting your hands on some samples at this
point might be helpful.
Another consideration is
installation. If you are building the deck yourself you will
want to know how easy the material is to work with. You should
review the instructions before making your decision.
The final factor is cost. Once
you have narrowed your search you can begin to locate suppliers
on the manufacturers website to see what is available and how
expensive it is. Remember that composite material will be 1.5-3
times the price of wood. But before suffering from sticker
shock you should consider that you will be saving the time and
expense of staining your deck every year. Most estimates show
costs even out after about 4 or 5 years.