By Steve Chapman
Composite decking has been around a while, and it has come a long way in its 15 years on the market. It now is offered by many brands in numerous color variations. The designs have become beautiful and limitless.
- No splinters. As wood decks become old and are not maintained, they shrink, warp and splinter. With composite decking, there is no sanding required because there are no splinters.
- Less maintenance. Anything that sits outside all year long with the dramatic change of seasons we have here in the mid-Atlantic will get dirty from snow, everyday dirt, pollen, mold and algae and begin to fade, dry out and become brittle. However, an annual maintenance wash will work wonders to keep your beautiful composite deck looking its best.
- Maintenance. The primary issue with composite decking is fading, which requires a special stain to match the original color of the composite deck. Once you get into the routine of staining, you are back at incurring the same cost, or more, as you would for a wooden deck.
- Internal mold. In the manufacturing process of Trex, the company has used plastic and wood. However, the wood was not treated, so any mold that was in the wood comes to the surface (black blotches). Cleaning will remove the surface mold, but there is mold right below the surface waiting to pop up again. The only remedy is sealing in the mold and staining the Trex decking.
- Temperature. It is difficult in warm weather to walk barefoot on composite decking as it absorbs the heat and is like hot asphalt.
- Expense. Composite decking is at least three times more expensive than pressure treated pine.
- Specialty cleaning. To clean composite correctly, the cleaner should use a specialty composite detergent that will remove the mildew, algae and pollutants. You cannot use high pressure, or you may take the top layer of composite off, which will throw off the color and appearance of the deck. Composite decking cannot be sanded; therefore, a piece of composite damaged from excess pressure will need to be replaced.
- No forgiveness. If there are stains caused by a grill spill, potted plants rings or different fading patterns, there is no remedy for these issues other than re-staining the deck.