You can’t beat the look of a wood deck. Or can you? Synthetic and composite decking materials have become more popular, and while they’re more expensive than even red cedar, their benefits might just having you leaning toward the new stuff.
We built a backyard deck using Trex, one of the pioneers in the “wood-alternative” decking material field. Originally, I was thinking we’d simply use plain ol’ pressure treated; once it weathers it looks pretty natural, I figure. But my wife wouldn’t have it, so we started to look around. After comparing Trex vs. cedar, we decided on the Trex. Here’s what I’ve discovered..
It’s great on bare feet. No splinters to worry about; just a smooth, firm surface.
Next to no maintenance. No stain, oils or sanding. It does require cleaning; the soft maple shading our deck does a number on it – but compared to cleaning wood, the job’s a lot easier. And if you don’t have a similar situation, your deck will stay cleaner a lot longer.
The look is very similar to wood; most people don’t even realize that it’s not until I point it out to them.
You can router it! Well, sure you can router cedar (you can even router pressure treated, though gear up to protect your lungs). But try doing this with wood.
You can really router Trex. The material is consistent throughout, and easy to cut. There are no knots or splinters or end grain to worry about. We actually cut the curve in this deck using only a router. With wood, you’d need to jigsaw the curve, then go over it with the router – which is a lot more work, and there’s a good chance the finish wouldn’t be as nice.
And while Trex and other composites are pricey, it’s only for the surfaces you see. As with a cedar deck, you build your framing out of pressure-treated lumber. And the money you save on maintenance surely equals out the cost difference over time.
Trex is a little more flexible than wood, but we spaced our joists at 16″ o.c., which is recommended for just about any wood except 2″ southern pine decking, and the deck is as solid as a hardwood floor.
That Trex flexibility can actually help out. We did kerf the skirtboard around the deck, but it was easy to bend it.