Is capped composite decking for you?
This is a follow up to an article that I wrote a year ago. I have received several correspondents regarding my article, “Some issues with composite decking “, July 2012, that illustrated some of the problems that plagued early composite decks. Since the early introduction of composite material there has been a quest to make it live up to the promise and claims to be a low maintenance material. As a home inspector I see the good and bad use of every day products. Composite decking is no different.
Composite decking is no longer a new product and many manufacturers have remedied the initial problems and concerns. There were many initial start-up companies that did not survive the cut. The products have evolved to reduce the issues with poor surface performance that were susceptible to delamination, scratching and mold growth. There are 3 companies that seem to have risen to the top of the pack and offer similar products. Trex, Fibron, and Timbertech. All have a product that shows good promise in a low maintenance and long lasting deck material. These newer products are called capped composite decking. It is similar to the older style composite with an additional layer of encapsulating plastic material. This additional layer is a pvc –like material that helps to seal the board and help to reduce wear and protects the surface from scratches and damage that can grow mold or otherwise be hard to clean. Each manufacturer offers different attributes, warranties and options in the product line. These products tend to fall between traditional composite lumbar and pvc decking when it comes to price. The products do show promise and only time will tell if they can perform in harsh conditions.
There are many factors that can contribute to the longevity of your deck and doing your research is an important part. With these types of products, cost can make a big difference in the performance that you will get. It is important to look at customer reviews and make sure that you are using an installer that has the required experience with the product. Large installers tend to have a relationship with suppliers and do not want to have to come back and deal with problems in the future. They also tend to have the rapport to get issues resolved in a timely manner.
Try to stay away from manufactures that do not have a lot of history or positive reviews. No product made today is “maintenance free”. It is important to understand that you will still need to perform periodic cleaning and maintenance if your deck is going to look the way that you intended it to look. Probably the most important thing is to find a quality deck builder that has a reputation as a deck builder, not a house builder. I am not trying to slight the homebuilder out there. There are time when the expertise of a specialist does matter and when you are going to spend a good deal of money on a project that is supposed to last up to 25 years you want to make sure that are getting your monies worth. Take the time to interview your potential deck specialist. Get multiple quotes. Each quote you take the time to get will provide you with more information and more questions to ask the next one.
Here are links to some of the products that are encouraging.
Decking Timbertech Earthwood Evolutions:
Jason Horn is a home inspector in Newtown, CT and one of the lead inspectors at Stonehollow Inc., a home inspection firm with offices in Newtown and Stamford. If you have any home inspection related questions feel free to call him at (203) 304-9140