Building a Deck: Composite vs. Pressure Treated vs. Cedar
LESLIE: David in Minnesota listens in on KDUZ and you’re thinking about building a deck resale value. Good idea with this soft market. How can we help?
DAVID: Hi, yes. I was just curious between the pressurized lumber and cedar and some of the new composites. I’m leaning toward cedar but I wondered if there was a compelling reason that I should reconsider and go for some of the more expensive composite material.
TOM: Well, if you’re a naturalist, I mean cedar is going to be the best insect-resistant material that you could probably choose. You know, cedar or …
LESLIE: Ooh, it smells good.
TOM: Yeah. Cedar …
LESLIE: It’s beautiful. It has a beautiful grain pattern.
TOM: Yeah, cedar or redwood. You know, if you really want to put some cash into it.
TOM: But you know, that being said, you know, it does require a lot of maintenance. It’s going to gray; it’s going to need to be stained and sealed from time to time. And you know, if that – if you’re willing to take on that level of maintenance then I see no reason to do it. If you’d like something that is more maintenance-free you can use a standard pressure-treated frame and then use a composite decking surface and a composite railing system.
DAVID: So the composite decking, that’s – you know, over time now, in the last several years, those don’t fade either or warp or anything like that?
DAVID: I mean they’re pretty solid?
TOM: No, they don’t at all. In fact, Trex – which has been around now for more than 10 years – is used in a lot of the national parks and I know – I live in the northeast, in the New York City area, and I’ve seen it here on the boardwalks against the shore.
TOM: It’s been down for 10, 12 years now. Still looks like the same Trex that you find in the store.
DAVID: Right. Well, if you did go with cedar – if I did – what – how often do you need to put a new coat of stain on it? I mean what’s the upkeep like? Every …
LESLIE: Well, with cedar you have to make sure with any type of new lumber that you allow it a certain amount of time to cure in its environment before you actually finish it. I think with cedar it’s two years. You may want to double check that but I’m pretty sure with cedar it’s two years because you need to let it cure before you put anything on it; otherwise, it’s not going to stick. Then, after that curing time, you can go ahead and either seal it or stain it or put any sort of finish on top of it. You know, even if it’s just a clear stain should just allow the graining pattern to show through and to protect it.
It’s going to be every three years; three to five years, depending on the product that you use and their manufacturer’s guarantee. But if you apply it correctly and you clean it seasonally and you use a cleanser and not just water and a pressure washer, if you use the proper materials you’ll really be able to properly maintain it over a long amount of time and it’s going to look beautiful.
DAVID: OK. And well I guess my last question. There’s PVC out there as well, isn’t there? Or is that not really prevalent material anymore?
TOM: Yes, there’s PVC – no, there is PVC decking available as well. Not very common but I have seen it at the trade shows. But I’ve not had any direct experience with it.
DAVID: OK. Alright, well that Trex sounds like a pretty good way to go. I appreciate your ideas there.
TOM: You’re welcome, David. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.