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Thread: Trex vs. Wood Decking any advice????

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Higganum, Connecticut
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    5

    Question Trex vs. Wood Decking any advice????

    Hi,

    We are building a brand new deck on our home. We plan to stay here forever and would like to buy the best. We've considered purchasing a composite deck or trex like product, but we're hearing mixed things. Some say they dont last forever, and they stain and or crack. I dont want my husband or myself to have to sand and stain every year. Please give me any advice or comments about your own decks. HELP!

    thanks
    Theresa

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    730
    hi theresa. we've been in our home 9 years and have an 18 year old redwood deck which we just had to replace (it's a big deck) due to wood rot and termite damage. :mad: anyway, it was quite costly (NOT in the budget ). if i had known the entire deck would need replacing when we had started our little "fix" project i would have definitely looked into trex. the redwood has quite the upkeep (although new products claim you only need to refinish every 2-3 years) but nails pop up, the wood gets rough, termites, etc. i would strongly consider the trex. even if it doesn't last "forever" in the long run i believe you will save on up keep.

    debbie
    It's easier to beg forgiveness then to ask permission!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    One Particular Harbour
    Posts
    2,375
    We have a Trex deck and love it. We had a wood deck at our old house and I was sick of the need to seal and wash and the splinters.

    The Trex is great - walk on it in bare feet with no risk of splinters etc. and it looks great with just a hosing off! I have not heard anything negative about the longevity of it. Wood doesn't last forever either and wood can be subject to insect damage, or rot.

    Trex does cost a little more than wood to purchase, but we were told you more than make up for that with the savings on sealing and upkeep.

    Make sure you use a contractor who has worked with it before, you need to have the proper spacing between the boards.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Lowell, MA
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    6,047
    We are currently having 2 porches on our house rebuilt (the house is 100+ years old) and got estimates from 3 very reputable contractors. We were interested in preserving the style and character of the house (i.e. not slapping new porches on an old house) therefore I don't know if it was the age and style of the house that governed their recommendation but all 3 recommended mahogany decking and that's what's going down (they've finished the back one and it looks nice!). We had a wood color stain and sealer applied to the decking and are told we will probably have to put another coat on it in two to 3 years which doesn't seem so bad to us. We do live in New England with it's harsh climate so if we were in a more moderate climate the resealing might not have to be done as often. We were given 3 choices for what to do with the decking:

    Seal only - which would have to be re-done once a year and would be the most 'natural' looking (I've seen it and it does look very matte and soft and doesn't add color to the natural wood).
    Stain/seal - which, as previously stated would have to be done every 2-3 years.
    Paint - the least upkeep which would have to be re-applied about every 3-5 years.

    I'm sure this would hold true with any type of wood decking you used. We did throw the idea of using a composite material out to at least one of the contractors and the idea didn't seem to go over too well. We didn't pursue it but decided to go with their professional opinion on what material to use - the guy who's doing the job used the same material on his own house and also on a rental property he owns so that seemed sufficient endorsement to us. I've been hanging out alot lately on the remodeling forums on gardenweb and decided to do a search on Trex for you. Quite a few hits that might give you some food for thought:

    http://ths.gardenweb.com/search/nph-ind.cgi?term=Trex

    Good luck with your decision.
    Linda

    When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and I could say “I used everything you gave me.”

    Erma Bombeck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Lone Star State
    Posts
    20,849
    I know some of the public areas around here have Trex and it seems to hold up very well. Being in public places, they are not getting a lot of regular care. One of the areas I know of is a pier over a marsh. Termites and rot would make wood a real pain over time.

  6. #6
    At the insistence of his wife, my DB had a covered deck/porch built w/ a composit material in a dark color so it would look like mahogany. They are not happy w/ it as it is always dusty looking (pollen season + all other times of the year!) & the kids have scratched deep grooves into it by dragging furniture around on it. Even thought the color goes thru--- the scratches look like they were made in plastic & not wood. And it SQUEEKS when you walk on it! But that may be due to the installation.
    Another friend used a light color on her deck & loves it for the look & lack of maintence-- but the deck gets full sun all day & the plastic heats up & burns their feet. They always have to wear shoes out there & that drives her nuts.

    There are lots of web sites out there w/ forums full of comments both pro & con. It really pays to do your research on this.
    "I can read and write if that's what you mean. I'm not thick or anything just don't ask me where the commas go."
    Incendiary by Chris Cleave

  7. #7
    Our large covered porch has a trex floor. It is smooth to walk on and supposed to be long lasting. However, I have a complaint that is strictly cosmetic: It always looks dull--even after we clean it, it's still slightly dirty looking. Ours is gray--and I like it so much better than the red which two of our neighbors have. It's weathered to a faded out rusty color that is dull and unappealling (IMO) Theirs also has a lot of mildew spots from the irrigation systems. We don't have that issue since ours is all covered and raised.

    If you have a cleaner that really works--I'd love to hear about it, or any other method you've used with good results. (I've been to the Trex website and read all of their recommendations.)

    Shar

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    PA/ DE
    Posts
    4,908
    Our dock is Trex and about 5 years old. We have not had a single problem with it. Got it "unstained", so it has weathered to a very nice light grey color. No splinters, no cracks, and the temps go from in the low 90's in the summer to the teens in the winter. The only thing that we had to do to it was on one section that is under heavy rhododendron cover had begun to acquire a greenish color (mold), so it had to be scrubbed. Otherwise, problem-free, and the additional expense was well worth it!
    Vicci


    Can't you just eat what I put in front of you? Do you have to know what it is?
    Ria Parkinson, Butterflies (BBC, 1978-83)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Rochester NY area
    Posts
    2,625
    We bought a house with a wood deck and we're not crazy about it. I stained it a year and a half ago and the stain is already peeling (I did all the preparations I was instructed to do.) Plus the kids have gotten some bad splinters from it (we have a pool so bare feet are a reality).

    Our plan is to tear the whole thing out and put in a patio. The patio has less upkeep than any deck. Not an option if you're way above the ground, though.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Southeastern MA
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    2,855
    We're getting ready to enlarge our deck and plan on using a composite material. DH is tired of being a slave to the deck ... sanding, power washing and resealing annually.

    I've heard that the composite material can stain and get hot, but I'm willing to give it a try. Linda - thanks for sharing the links.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    952
    We went with Monarch decking and not Trex. Both are great products. Our contractor recommended Monarch because the wood grain goes completely through the board. Therefore sanding should not leave any non-woodgrain areas. I see you are in CT. There is a place (I will get the name from my DH later). They have a porch built using 3 different products side by side and railings too. It gives you a great feel for each product and a consultant to explain the pros and cons of each. For us it was Trex vs Monarch and I think the consultant was fair to both products and just gave us facts. Monarch web site is www.monarchexotics.com. We are on our 3 season and no problems.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Bedford, NH
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    3,485
    Linda-

    my parents got a mahogany deck and they were told it wouldn't need to be stained every year, but it does. The rails are white stain and those have to be done every two years, it's a big pain in the neck. Hopefully you will have more luck.

    We are putting on a pool deck and we are going with a Trex-like product--for the resilience but also because we will almost exclusively be barefoot and don't want to worry about splinters.

    Kristi
    co-founder
    Planet Marshmallow
    www.planetmarshmallow.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Posts
    1,764
    We have several Trex surfaces on our playground at school. We have a Trex deck under and around our water pump table, in a covered playhouse, and on the flat decks and stairs of our climber.

    I've never noticed that any of the surfaces get nearly as hot as the concrete sidewalks. The kids frequently go barefoot in warm weather and we haven't had a problem. Haven't had a mold problem so far, even on the water pump deck which is wet for long periods of time.
    Beth


    "A teacher who says, 'I am a good teacher,' is in trouble. A good teacher is frequently troubled, in doubt, frustrated. Perfection doesn't exist. Everyone needs help." (Amelia Gambetti)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    7,958
    I have built several decks in my lifetime and some of them were quite elaborate. Most of the decks I built were constructed of pressure treated pine.

    When Trex first came on the market I didn't particularly like how it looked because it did not have a grain pattern, was available in only one color, and looked like plastic.

    Now several different manufacturers, including Trex, are making their manufactured boards with a grain pattern like mentioned in a post above and pictured below.

    I have used Trex on other projects and like it. If I ever build another deck I think I will build it out of Trex or another similar product.

    Another thing that I will definitely use on my next deck is a hidden nail system. I have used both spiral nails and deck screws and they both will loosen over time and dirt will collect in and around the screw heads leaving a stain that makes the deck look not look as good as it did when it was new. Hidden nail systems allow you to have an elegant surface that has a much more "finished" look to it. If you notice, most of the manufacturers selling deck materials use pictures of "nail-less" decks because they look so much better.




  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    AZ
    Posts
    108
    Thanks for all the great info. I am replacing my deck soon and will take all of this in consideration. Thanks.
    Jean

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Lowell, MA
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    6,047
    Quote Originally Posted by Kristilyn1
    Linda-
    my parents got a mahogany deck and they were told it wouldn't need to be stained every year, but it does. The rails are white stain and those have to be done every two years, it's a big pain in the neck. Hopefully you will have more luck.
    I'm sorry to hear that Kristi. We're hoping since the porches are covered and therefore somewhat sheltered from the elements the wood and the stain/sealer will hold up as promised. This has been a very interesting discussion and clearly there are pros and cons to be considered no matter which material is used. If it were me I'd just do alot of reading, make a list of my concerns with each material and when talking to sales people or contractors ask them to address each issue. Just on this thread alone there have been 4 concerns expressed about composites: Mildew, heat, dullness of finish and scratches. Since these products have been around for awhile now some of those issues may be getting addressed by the manufacturers and hopefully the product is being improved. I'd go armed and start peppering the salespeople: "I've heard some anecdotal information about this product such as..." If they have a reasonable answer then on to the next step of the decision tree.
    Linda

    When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and I could say “I used everything you gave me.”

    Erma Bombeck

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Arlington, WA
    Posts
    5,832
    We had to replace our deck a number of years ago, when Trex was just starting to get "known". We couldn't find a builder who'd worked with it however, and since our deck was a big project we decided to stick with wood.
    Every year when we spend several days cleaning and restaining I regret that we didn't go ahead with a non wood surface. I like the way wood looks but it requires more maintenance than I can happily give it. This is a damp climate & all that cleaning and restaining isn't cheap either, in time or in products used.
    "If the world were a logical place, men would ride side saddle." Rita Mae Brown

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