It’s Almost Spring – Time to Wash the Deck

Posted on Feb 28, 2017


Today’s Composite & High End Decking Show a Clear Advantage for Homeowners

Maine homeowners love to take advantage of outdoor spaces. After all, for those who make their home here year-round, time spent frolicking in the sun is limited. There’s little wonder that homes featuring ample deck space up the ante on desirability.

Not only are decks popular with homeowners, they add space without the expense of a sunroom, for example. They also require an investment moderate enough not to prohibit other additions guaranteed to increase home value, such as an extra bedroom or second bath. Decks, whether wood, synthetic or composite, recoup their investment by up to 65% – 90% according to some experts. And, when that deck is maintenance free, it can be even more appealing.
 

Growth in Composite & Synthetic Decking

Over the last several years, the residential decking and railing market has undergone a significant shift. More and more homeowners adding a deck to their home opt for non-wood options. The appeal of composite and synthetic deck materials is their extraordinary low maintenance — most withstand the harsh Maine seasons easily, requiring little more than being hosed down. Composite decks do not have to be replaced and repaired, painted or stained, and they stand up to stains, traffic, and weather year after year.

Wood remains the less expensive option – non-wood decking prices can run 50% higher. But Ron Haskell, President of Maine Properties in Scarborough, which specializes in residential remodeling, said that his customers are not deterred by up-front costs of wood alternatives when they realize the reward. “Many have opted for composite or synthetic decking strictly for the long-term cost savings it provides,” he said. Buyers will find many composite decks warrantied against structural failure for 20 – 30 years. For those seeking eco-friendly choices, composites can be made up of nearly 100% recycled material. And, Haskell said of customers, “They like the idea of not having to contend with splinters.”

Even within the synthetic market, the shift from traditional uncapped composites and cellular PVC decking to capped composite decking (a solid wood-plastic core, capped with a full synthetic wrap) has continued as choices burgeon, providing more selection when it comes to materials, color, and texture. New materials mimic wood grains and emulate wood colors (customers are no longer limited to brown as they were when synthetics first hit the market), all with increasingly improved resistance to fading.
 

Money-saving Tip: If you are on a tight budget, This Old House recommends Installing wood railings in combination with your composite deck. Wood railings will reduce the deck cost while keeping the deck floor maintenance low.

 

Seeking the Unparalleled Look of Wood

As manufacturers invest in new technologies for decking, the result is a more realistic look and texture, more color choices, and high performance materials that are stronger, lighter, and more resistant. Price points within the synthetic market have broadened as well. Having chosen composite over wood, money can still dictate a homeowner’s decision. Top-of-the-line decking can add to expenses significantly. Top-tier composites may be worth the price for some who value the look of real wood, or those considering high quality, ultra-strong materials that resist warping, staining or fading, or have the added benefit of not getting hot in the sun – a drawback of some composite materials over traditional wood.
 
Those who consider the look of real wood simply beyond compare will find that high performance decking isn’t limited to composites. Haskell said some of his Maine Properties customers who prefer real wood have opted for higher-end ipe. Considered a more exotic wood, ipe originates from Central and South America, and while it can be cost-prohibitive, it provides an elegant look with natural properties that rival the performance of synthetics. “It is an exceptionally hard, dense product that will last forever,” said Haskell. “For real wood purists who want a grainy look and the texture of wood, it’s a very interesting option where aesthetics are concerned.”

Whatever your price point, the trend in decks in 2017 is choice. For buyers and manufacturers, the overlap of low-maintenance and an authentic look will provide the sweet spot when it comes to the deck market. It goes without saying, especially in Maine, that the less time spent on home maintenance, the more time you have to enjoy your investment before the snow flies.

 

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