LESLIE: Now we’re going to go to Pat in South Dakota. You’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
PAT: We have a problem with our deck. We need to replace it. And we have investigated using composite materials and find that that’s really expensive and I don’t think we’ll be able to afford to do that. So we’re wondering about how well using cedar as the flooring and then using the composite on the rails would work.
LESLIE: I just actually put composite in our screened-in porch as a replacement to some old lumber that was there that just needed constant upkeep, even though it was a screened-in porch not fully exposed to the elements. And I found, believe it or not, the cost of the decking material and the cost of the railing material, from the same manufacturer, were the exact same price. Equally expensive.
So I don’t know if you want to mix it up in that capacity. I mean yes, maintaining a spindle or a railing system is a lot of work, if you were to go with a cedar or a pressure-treated type of lumber, but I don’t know that you’re going to save that much money there by going with a composite railing system.
TOM: And also, cedar does require a lot of care. I know that it’s insect-resistant and decay-resistant but if you don’t stain it, it’s going to crack and check and split. And in doing so, you’re going to have to restain it every few years, so it is going to cost you some money. And I wonder, on a lineal-foot basis, how much you’re really saving.
I don’t know what kind of composite you priced out but the composite that’s available at home centers – like at Home Depot, the Veranda product – you know, it’s not terribly expensive. And it’s really pretty indestructible stuff. Once you put that down, you don’t have to worry about it any further in terms of any type of maintenance.
So, I would think carefully about using cedar over composite because I think that it’s going to be a fair amount of maintenance expense for you. It looks great for a year, then it gets all dark gray and blackish and then you’ve got to stain it.
PAT: OK. Well, that gave me the information. I can go forward within.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.