Decks provide a built-in source of entertainment. Gather your family and friends for weekend barbecue, or relax in the sun on a lazy afternoon with a good book and a cold beverage. But owning a wooden deck is also a lot of work, due to all the cleaning, sanding and staining that is required.
Enter composite decking. The look is similar to that of real wood, but the headaches are fewer.
Composite decking is made in the factory using a combination of waste wood and recycled plastic. When composite first hit the market in the 1990s, it was expensive, plastic-looking and grayish in color. But the product has come a long way, with modern varieties that look similar to real wood. Composite is still more expensive than natural wood, but you might just find that it’s worth the added expense.
Compared to natural wood, composite is nearly hassle free. Forget about stripping, sanding and staining the deck every few years. Forget about replacing warped or rotten boards, too. The most you’ll have to do is spray the deck off with a hose.
An added bonus? The money you’ll save on cleaning materials and stain will make up for the extra cost of composite in five years or so.
Composite decking has a longer lifespan because it doesn’t rot or warp. And unlike wood, composite doesn’t attract termites. Composite has a life expectancy of anywhere from 30 to 50 years, compared to just 15 to 20 years with wooden decks.
Left untreated, wood eventually turns an ugly shade of gray. Composite decking will turn a couple shades lighter in the sun, but only in the first few months of ownership. It will never turn grade or require staining.
You might not expect a product made partially of plastic to be eco-friendly, but composite is. Composite decking is made primarily from waste products, including wood chips, sawdust, plastic jugs and plastic bags. In fact, according to This Old House, every 20 feet of composite decking contains about 30 pounds of material that would have ended up in landfills.
Composite decking comes in boards up to 20 feet long - much longer than natural wood boards. Longer boards make for faster and easier construction of your deck. (Plus, longer boards mean fewer end joints and a cleaner overall look.) Composite is also very lightweight, which makes for easier handling.
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