Replace Wood with Composite Decking
LESLIE: Heading to the great outdoors with Scott in California with a decking project. What can we do for you?
SCOTT: Yeah, I was thinking about taking up my redwood planks on my deck and replacing it with tile, which would entail putting plywood and some cement board down. I was wondering should I put some kind of moisture barrier down between the cement board and the plywood?
TOM: Well, if you don’t it’s going to rot away. Boy, that’s an awfully big job. Why are considering doing that?
SCOTT: Well, this is California so you’ve got to basically strip it and restain it every two years and it’s pretty labor-intensive.
TOM: What’s the framing made out of?
LESLIE: Yeah, can it support the weight of all of that concrete board and the tile and the mortar and the grout?
SCOTT: Yeah, it’s redwood decking.
TOM: But is the framing redwood or is the framing pressure-treated, Scott?
SCOTT: It’s redwood.
TOM: (groaning) I’ll tell you what; I don’t like the idea of doing the tile. I think it’s going to be very heavy. I think it’s going to be very expensive. If you want a better alternative, I would suggest composite.
Leslie, you just did some composites. What’d you use? The fiber …
LESLIE: I used the Fiberon …
TOM: Fiberon is good.
LESLIE: … and they have a line that they do called Tropical and we chose the mahogany and it’s sort of – I mean it has a beautiful graining pattern to it. It’s not like the traditional, first round of composites that came out a few years ago that was all gray. This has a lot of depth, a lot of movement, a beautiful color and it’s never going to change.
TOM: Plus, you know, the thing is eventually you may need to do some repair to that structure and there’s just no way to access it if you put all the tile on it.
SCOTT: Well, that’s why I’m looking at it because it’s almost 20 years old.
TOM: Yeah, I think that this is a good opportunity for a deck makeover where essentially you remove the decking and the railing. You keep the structure, assuring that it’s in good structural shape – if it’s not, you can do repairs then – and then do a makeover with composites. The composites today are really indestructible. They need very little maintenance. They can be installed even without showing any nails.
SCOTT: OK. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Scott. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.