Learn about plastic and composite wood, an alternative to untreated wood, which can rot if it's exposed to the elements. Find out about the different kinds of plastic wood available, and which applications they are best suited for. Get tips on using a "hidden fastener" system for composite decking.
LESLIE: Well, you don’t have to use real wood to get a wood look for your home’s exterior. In fact, using wood alternatives will cut way down on your honey-do list; I promise you this. For much easier maintenance without losing the charm that we all really love about wood trim, molding and decking – you know, we all love that look – there are a lot of manmade options that you should be considering.
TOM: And here to tell us about just that is Kevin O’Connor , host of This Old House , and Tommy Silva , the show’s general contractor. Welcome, guys.
And Kevin, we put a lot of wood in houses, but there are definitely places where composites are clearly a better choice.
KEVIN: Most houses are built using a lot of wood. It makes up the framing of the house itself; it’s part of the trim around the doors and the windows; it’s the siding, the flooring and the decks. But if it’s not maintained properly, untreated wood that is exposed to the elements will eventually rot.
So Tommy, what are some of the alternatives?
TOMMY: Well, that’s right, Kevin; it will rot. There are a lot of different plastic woods out there now and I use it a lot for exterior trim and decking. For exterior trim around doors, windows, fascia, soffit, I often use PVC boards. Solid PVC boards are great but you want to make sure that you use the manufactured, recommended adhesive.
TOMMY: For decking, sometimes I use a composite wood made of recycled plastic and sawdust.
KEVIN: So let’s talk about the composite decking . Any special insulation tips?
TOMMY: Well, I’ve had some great luck with a hidden fastener system where you fasten the decking to the joist on each side of the deck board and it leaves no holes on the surface.
TOMMY: But if you decide to screw the deck board down through the surface, be sure to use a composite deck screw. It helps prevent that ugly mushrooming around the screw head.
KEVIN: Alright. Well, if you want more information, there are several videos on our website about composite decking and solid PVC. That’s at ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: So always remember: mushrooms on the steak, good; mushrooms on the deck, not so much.
TOMMY: (chuckles) That’s right, Tom.
KEVIN: Not so much.
TOM: Tom Silva, Kevin O’Connor, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOMMY: Thanks, Tom. It’s my pleasure.
KEVIN: Thank you, Tom.
LESLIE: Man, you’re making me hungry. You know, speaking of cooking great steaks, we’ve got a Fiberon composite deck – I know you guys have heard me talk about it a million times – but cleaning it is an absolute breeze and I tell you, it is the best decision we ever made as far as any sort of home maintenance project and I will never, ever go back to a wood deck again. Even though they’re gorgeous, I don’t ever want to deal with that maintenance. With composites, maintenance is just super-simple and it looks great.
TOM: And for more tips on how you can have a beautiful deck or many of the other projects that are done every week by the guys at This Old House, head on over to ThisOldHouse.com, check out the local listing in your area and watch them on TV. This Old House is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t get any better.