We hope you all have a wonderful safe 4th of July!
The question most parents are worried about when allowing their child out into the world for the first time is will they be safe? Same goes when buying a car – most of us think about the safety ratings of the vehicle. What about your deck? It may have been inspected when you bought your home but have you thought about the safety of it since?
So why would my deck have been safe when I purchased my home but may not be safe now? There are a couple of reasons that come immediately to mind. First – especially if you have a wood deck and have not done proper yearly maintenance then rot or decay may have made your deck unsafe since you moved in. The second biggest reason is over the years the way we now build decks is dramatically different from how they were built even 5 years ago. As decks fail (meaning they collapse or people fall off them) changes are made to the way they need to be built to make them safer. Meaning your deck will not collapse if you have 15 of your best friends out dancing on it or your uncle Bob has a wee bit too much to drink and stumbles heavily into the deck railing he won’t fall off the deck.
In the last few years more and more customers are asking what is the best option for them – wood deck or composite deck. There is no right or wrong answer – it really comes down to cost vs maintenance. OK – maybe not that simple but the reality is that composites have improved tremendously in the last 5 – 10 years and have become much more competitive in both price and having a more “natural” appearance. The first composites looked like fake plastic – the latest ones on the market – well you need to see them and form your own opinion.
Let’s talk about the nuts and bolts – ok and benefits – of each. For wood there are a number of choices but 3 primary – cedar, epe and mahogany. Each looks beautiful and is real wood, is naturally insect repellent and installs fairly simply by being either screwed or nailed down. The downfall of each of them is that they all need yearly maintenance to keep them looking beautiful and over time water and sun will start to cause damage. For cedar it is usually a pressure wash, full sanding of the deck and re-stain with a quality product. For epe and mahogany it is usually a light pressure wash, cleaning with product meant for each type of wood and then a re-wax or stain of the wood. Cedar is the least expensive in terms of both product cost and install cost with epe being the most labor intensive of the 3.
The benefits with the new lines of composite – either with a wood/pvc core and PVC outer layer or the full PVC variety – is that the maintenance is very minimal. Just a quick scrub with a water and dish washing soap (I prefer dawn) and a good water rinse 2 -3 times a year. Do not pressure wash your composite deck or you may destroy the outer PVC layer. Many of the composites are also starting to mimic their wood counterparts so the look and feel of the composite deck is not the old “fake plastic” look. Most composites also come with a 25 year to lifetime warranty as long as the deck was installed properly. The largest downfall of the composites – the cost. It is usually twice to three times the price of cedar although with the higher cost of epe or mahogany the price is less of an issue.