Category Archives: Synthetic Decks

When does low-maintenance decking make the most sense?

Lake Murray Wooden Deck with Vertical Cable Railing

Beautiful Lake Murray, SC, Wooden Deck with Vertical Cable Railing

Here at Archadeck of Central South Carolina, we realize it can be difficult for homeowners to choose which material to use for their new deck or redecking project. With the wide selection of decking materials we offer, selecting one type of material, color or brand can often make you feel like a kid in a candy store. If you are on the fence, so to speak, between choosing a wooden deck versus a composite (low-maintenance) decking material, here are some things you need to know…

Now and Later

Indeed, in most cases, low-maintenance decking is a greater investment up front than traditional pressure-treated wood. Synthetics/composites are typically double the cost of the traditional pressure treated pine deck. When you take into consideration the costs associated with properly maintaining a wooden deck, however, the long-term picture looks quite different.

Deck revived by Renew Crew of Central SC

Though the average cost for a composite deck can range from $25 or more per square foot, the investment when compared to wooden decking is measured according to the up-front costs. You need to factor in that to have your wooden deck professionally maintained at least bi-annually can cost between $800 – $1200 each visit. Adding up these costs over the lifetime of the deck, about 15 years, and you are looking at $12,000 to $18,000. This amount in some cases may equal the difference in wood vs composite from the very start of your project. So the question of investing more now or over time becomes the main concern.

Lexington SC TimberTech Deck Builder

This new TimberTech deck will provide years of low-maintenance enjoyment to these Lexington, SC, homeowners.

The Look of Wood

We know for many wood lovers nothing compares to the “real thing.” Today’s synthetic decking materials are made to look similar to wood. In some cases, it is rather hard to tell the difference until you are in close proximity or even reach down to touch it. The caveat for wood lovers is these  “wood-looking” materials need hardly any maintenance and are extremely durable. Whereas real wood may have been the default decking material in the past, those considering building a deck now should consider low-maintenance composites as an option because they deliver the look without the work!

Warranties

Although a professionally-installed and properly-maintained pressure-treated deck can last in excess of 15 years, what kind of warranty do you receive with the decking itself? Archadeck of Central South Carolina provides two warranties on all the outdoor living structures we build. This includes your deck, sunroom, porch, or other custom outdoor living space, which are backed by Archadeck’s written warranty for workmanship of 1 year and structural integrity of 5 years when Archadeck exerts control as your remodeling contractor. That warranty is further backed by the National Guarantee Corporation, which guarantees that your residential outdoor living project will be completed to the terms of your Archadeck contract and built to the agreed-upon specification and a warranty of performance for up to 2 years. However, many synthetic/composite decking companies provide manufacturers’ warranties to protect you against defects in materials, rot, termites, staining and fading. Many of these manufacturers warranties extend 25 years or more.

Archadeck of Central SC composite redeckingHow Long?

Before you make the decision to build or redeck with a synthetic material, you should take into account the time you plan to live in your home. If you stay in your home 4 or 5 years or longer, you will get your money out of it and you will also create an investment that you and your family can enjoy into the future!

If you are considering a new deck or redeck in the future, contact Archadeck of Central SC to learn more about the many options we offer. We can help you choose the right decking material that best suits your lifestyle and budget. Call us for a free consultation today at (803) 603-2160 or email us at centralsc@archadeck.net.

Archadeck of Central SC three generations of quality outdoor structures

The Archadeck of Central SC team – Mike Reu, Marshall Reu and Tucker Reu.

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Why are composite/low-maintenance decks more expensive than wood?

Lexington SC TimberTech Deck Builder

The new TimberTech deck will provide years of low-maintenance enjoyment to these Lexington, SC, homeowners.

Are you thinking about redecking your existing deck or adding a new deck to your Columbia backyard this season?

If so, and depending on what stage of planning you are in, you might have already noticed the wide range of material choices on the market. These include the low-maintenance synthetic materials such as composite, vinyl and PVC. When comparing these to the traditional pressure-treated pine deck, some Central SC homeowners experience sticker shock when they see the difference in material costs for synthetic.

AZEK redeck on Lake Murray in Lexington, SC

These homeowners chose PVC decking in Brownstone, from the Harvest Collection by AZEK.

A common question that arises here at Archadeck of Central SC is, “Why are composite/low-maintenance decks more expensive than wood?” There are many factors that go into fully answering this question, so let us start from the beginning…

The 1st generation of composites:

In 1992, Trex® introduced the first low-maintenance decking. They called the decking “composite,” and it was composed of plastic and wood fibers. Composites began to gain favor in the marketplace because treating a wood deck can easily consume a full day, or more, every year, and we are increasingly jealous of our time. Other companies soon followed the lead and began to introduce more composite options. Over time, manufacturers began to add realistic wood details such as grain and texture to their composites to emulate the look of real wood.

Archadeck of Central SC composite redeckingThe 2nd generation:

AZEK® enters the picture, then called Procell.  This new synthetic material abandoned the wood fiber makeup of composite in favor of all PVC plastic. In addition to the improved appearance, AZEK’s best features were stain, scratch and mold resistance. Progress continued and soon other major players such as TimberTech and Fiberon came onto the scene.

In 2009, some of the synthetic decking manufacturers combined the benefits of traditional composites and solid PVC by engineering an attractive, hard PVC plastic cap over a composite core.  This low-maintenance decking material is called capstock, which offers the benefits of solid plastic decking at a lower cost.

Beautifully detailed deck in NE Columbia, SC.

Beautifully detailed low-maintenance deck in NE Columbia, SC.

With new advances, heightened technology and more realistic wood-like elements (like the addition of streaking that mimics wood graining), synthetic decking just keeps improving. Today’s synthetics offer a wealth of benefits over traditional wooden decking. These include increased longevity (25+ years), no need to stain or paint and minimal maintenance to keep the deck clean and looking good. In contrast, a professionally-built, well-maintained pressure-treated wooden deck can last 10-15 years tops. The frequency of the maintenance it requires may vary slightly based primarily on how much wear and direct sunlight the deck receives but it will require annual maintenance surpassing a soap-and-water cleanup.

Chapin SC Composite decks

Beautiful, low maintenance composite deck addition in Chapin, SC.

All these improvements and benefits explain why composite, vinyl and PVC decks are significantly more expensive than traditional wood decks. If you are on the fence about choosing a low-maintenance deck, sometimes a good litmus test is to evaluate this purchase decision based on how long you are going to be in your home. If you plan on being in your home for the next 20 years and like the idea of minimal maintenance, then any upfront increase in cost pays off fairly quickly. But, if you know you will only be in your home for another 5 years, you may want to choose a wood deck with the corresponding cons of annual maintenance.

Archadeck of Central SC three generations of quality outdoor structures

The Archadeck of Central SC team – Mike Reu, Marshall Reu and Tucker Reu.

Which is right for you? Let us help you decide. Our job is to walk you through the options not just for decking boards but for all the other options and considerations required in planning your new deck or porch. Give us a call for a free consultation to discuss planning and building a new outdoor space for your Columbia, SC, home.  You can reach us by phone at (803) 603-2160 or email us at centralsc@archadeck.net.

 

 

 

Living on Island Time in Lexington, SC….

Lexington SC Tropical Timbertech DeckAt first glance this deck seems as though it might be located on some exotic, tropical island. Indeed, the tranquil lakeside setting feels thousands of miles away from civilization when it is actually located right here in Lexington, SC!

When Archadeck of Central SC originally consulted with the homeowner on this project, they had a deck that was rotting away due to the inadequate quality of the pressure-treated boards that were originally used. We frequently see existing decks begin to degrade because inferior-grade lumber was used. In the case of this deck, we suggested that the entire structure be demolished with the exception of the gazebo and tiki hut, and a new deck with a custom outdoor kitchen built in its place.

Before:

Before:

The new deck was built using TimberTech synthetic decking. TimberTech provides the same look and feel of traditional wood but with the added strength and quality of composite materials. Their motto is “think wood made tougher,” which is a realistic description as this decking material never needs painting or staining, is tough enough to resist mold, mildew, stains and scratches and comes backed by a lengthy warranty.

Lexington SC TimberTech Deck Builder

Lexington SC TimberTech Deck Builder

The new TimberTech deck will provide years of low-maintenance enjoyment to these Lexington, SC, homeowners.

In addition to the new and improved deck, Archadeck of Central SC also designed and integrated a custom outdoor kitchen within the existing grass-roofed tiki hut that is part of the space. The kitchen will allow endless dining and outdoor entertaining opportunities since there is no need to trek back to the home when it is time to eat! The kitchen is built from stacked stone and features a marble top with an “eat in” graduated counter height perfect for bar stools. The design also includes a grill, sink, fridge and much more. By integrating the kitchen inside the tiki hut, the homeowners will have a shady spot to relax in with a feel reminiscent of being on island time — right in their own backyard!

Lexington SC Custom Outdoor Kiitchens

Of course, the natural topography of the landscape adds to the tropical feel of the outdoor living space. The deck is situated to take in the stunning views and breezes of the homeowner’s private lake which is flanked by a natural boulder stone bank. It’s not hard to whisk your spirits away to a tropical paradise —luau anyone?

Lexington SC TimberTech Deck Builder

If you want to learn more about creating your own unique, island-inspired or one-of-a-kind outdoor space that stands out from the crowd, contact Archadeck of Central SC today to get started! You can contact us at (803) 603-2160 or via email at centralsc@archadeck.net.

Archadeck of Central SC three generations of quality outdoor structures

The Archadeck of Central SC team – Mike Reu, Marshall Reu and Tucker Reu.

Archadeck of Central SC can help you find a long term solution when your deck no longer measures up

Peeling blue paint on wood deck.

Peeling blue paint on wood deck.

In our line of business we have seen many deck owners place their hopes of restoring their aged or worn wooden deck into products that usually only offer false promises. Case in point are the “paint on” plastic deck coatings you may have seen on TV or noticed in the “big box” home improvement stores. Many retailers have been stocking products in the paint section that appear to put a thick coating on deck boards, giving them the appearance of synthetic decking. These products claim to offer superior protection for the wood and to eliminate splinters, nail-holes and minor cracks with ease of application as a homeowner can apply the product over the course of a weekend.

Although each individual case is different, our experience with “fix all” products is anything but positive. These products only serve as a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Many are made up of epoxy-style coverings that appear to be smooth, flawless and cool to the touch when exposed to the sun but in reality can come out rough and retain heat on structures that have a southern exposure.

Beautiful redeck on Lake Murray in Lexington, SC

Beautiful redeck on Lake Murray in Lexington, SC.

In addition to the many shortfalls these products have, they also require frequent and costly reapplication in most scenarios. With wooden decking, as with any of the effects of sun and water on horizontal surfaces, application over rotten or damp wood will likely cause failures of the coatings. Other inconsistencies that must also be addressed are tight spacing of existing deck boards and reduced drainage capabilities. The circumference of these coatings will make tight spacing worse, and the area between your decking boards must be cleaned out regularly or face side rot. Flashing issues at the ledger are also a concern as is lack of proper waterproofing over joist tops.

The possibility of success, if any, of using these “paint-on” products lies within the surface preparation itself. Wood needs to be cleaned and free of any debris, oils or grease (this includes barbecue sauce). Prerequisites also include replacement of any loose nails. Manufacturers of the product even recommend your existing deck be screwed down to avoid the chances of any nails working up through the new finish. We are quick to point out these products should not serve as a “fix” for rotting wood or a surface in very bad condition as many deck owners may assume. These products serve as an alternative to conventional sealers or stain, not as a decking repair system.

Composite deck with composite rail and flared stairs.

Let our experienced staff help you achieve the backyard of your dreams.

Archadeck of Central SC is your redecking expert in the Columbia region. Redecking an aging or failing deck through a quality deck contractor is the only real solution for invasive decking problems. Our diverse portfolio of materials includes quality wooden choices as well as the highest quality synthetic options on the market.

Keep in mind, when redecking with a composite, it is critical to replace all joists. When going from wood to composite, you have to add joists. Typically the wood deck has joists that are eighteen inches apart. So some contractors would put new joists in between the old joists, giving you joists every eight inches. However, mixing new joists in between old ones will result in A) waves in the deck when the level new joists shrink and B) loose-fitting boards unless you screw down every single joist every eight inches, which are too many screws to look good. We tear out all of the joists and build as new to get a problem-free deck. In many cases we may still use the old posts and beams if in good shape.

Archadeck of Central SC three generations of quality outdoor structures

The Archadeck of Central SC team – Mike Reu, Marshall Reu and Tucker Reu

We have many redecking options available to accommodate your lifestyle and budget. Contact Archadeck of Central SC to help you make an informed decision about which material is the best suited for your outdoor space needs. Our knowledge and experience working with wood and synthetics over the years can ensure an outdoor living space that not only meets but exceeds your expectations. Call today for a free design consultation (803) 603- 2160 or email us at
centralsc@archadeck.net.

Synthetic decking options – Archadeck of Central SC provides the ultimate guide to material choices used in creating your dream deck

This composite deck in Lexington is a true gem!

This composite deck in Lexington,SC, is a true gem!

In the final installment of our two-part series on decking material considerations, Archadeck of Central SC discusses the often confusing realm of low-maintenance decking choices on the market today. Low-maintenance decking is what is commonly referred to in the business as “synthetic decking”. Synthetic decking includes composites, capstock and solid PVC. These materials represent the fastest-growing segment of decking materials sold today. When you begin to examine the abundant choices available when choosing the material for your new deck, it can get confusing keeping up with each “type” of synthetic offers what — Synthetic decks have evolved over the past several years to encompass beauty in a wonderful array of hues, undulation and wood graining that rival the look of natural wood minus the maintenance!

Composite spa deck by Archadeck of Central SC

Composite spa deck by Archadeck of Central SC.

Archadeck of Central SC would like to elaborate on the characteristics of each type of synthetic so that you may make a well-informed decision in choosing the best material for your new deck or redecking needs…

  • Composites – Composite is a general term for the original form of low-maintenance decking. Some builders also use the technical term when referring to composites- which is wood plastic composites, or WPC. Composites are a mix of materials including wood fiber and plastic.  Product lines such as the TimberTech Twin Finish or Reliaboard are good examples of traditional wood/plastic composites. Traditional composite has now become the value-oriented decking board among synthetics because of the new products that have joined the category. Wood particles are still part of the makeup of the product, which makes it porous. Because this product is porous, it does have limited capacity to grow mold. If you spill coffee, wine, or grease (or even sunscreen) on the deck you will want to clean it up quickly just as you would inside your home. Other environmental factors such as bird droppings can lead to staining if not removed and cleaned properly. Even though WPC’s don’t require staining or painting, they do need to be kept clean in order to keep them looking and functioning their best.

    AZEk Deck with seating area

    AZEK Deck with seating area.

  • Solid PVC decking – Pure PVC decking products have become more desirable over the past few years. Lines such as AZEK and TimberTech’s XLM are great examples of pure PVC decking materials. They consist of PVC foam and a hard PVC cap that is non-porous. They are non-porous and, based on this solidity. These will not stain permanently, however when they become soiled, they will need to be cleaned with soap and water. Keep in mind that just because a material is low-maintenance doesn’t mean it’s self-cleaning. PVC comes in a host of colors and new color introductions are made onto the market almost every year, so the selection is vast. You can get solid colors such as the TimberTech Natural Collection, or the TimberTech Tropical collection , which has more streaking to replicate the look of real tropical hardwoods. These PVC products are oil-based so the natural colors are the least expensive, and the tropical collection forges into the higher end of the synthetic cost spectrum. Cost for synthetics can vary depending on the color, pattern and amount of streaking and undulation present. In general, the formulation of synthetic can be pricey, especially the products that contain emulated natural wood details.

    Composite deck and open porch in Kings Grant, Lexington SC is rustic and elegant with plent of room for dining and entertaining

    This Composite deck in Lexington offers plenty of room for dining and entertaining.

  • Capstock –  Capstock is the newest of the three synthetic decking materials to come onto the scene. It is a third generation synthetic which is also referred to as capped PVC. This product contains a composite core which has been capped, or wrapped in PVC. The material’s makeup delivers a product that is impervious to the elements and everyday accidents endured by most decks. TimberTech Evolutions and Fiberon are both good examples of capstock decking. The benefit of capstock is the performance and the price point. Capstock is less expensive than pure PVC and performs quite well.
Low maintenance composite deck builder in Lexington SC

Low maintenance composite deck in Lexington, SC.

From a price perspective, wood plastic composites are the least expensive, capped composite will generally be less expensive than a pure PVC product. Synthetics can range in price from $2.50 linear ft.  for WPC to $6.50 linear ft. for a solid PVC material. Though synthetics may appear to be the same, know that no two are created equal. There is a wide range of quality, colors and textures within each category  and often the deciding factor for a customer is their personal preference of the look and feel of a particular product.

Comparatively, synthetics are not as structurally sound as wood. In order to properly support composite decking, the joists will usually need to be closer together than when building with PT lumber to prevent sagging. For example, on diagonal decking comprised of composite, this may require 12″ spacing vs. 16″ for PT. The advantages of both solid PVC and wrapped PVC products include reducing the amount of maintenance required by the homeowner, and more specifically a decrease in the amount of cleaning required to keep the deck looking new. Wood Plastic Composites are still a good product but require more effort on the part of the homeowner. It is important to know that “low-maintenance” does not mean “no-maintenance” and as with any structure, a synthetic deck will need to be kept clean in order to remain looking and functioning at its best.

No matter which synthetic is right for your needs or your budget, Archadeck of Central SC can answer any questions you have about all of the decking products we offer. We also build wooden decks as well. Learn more about all our wonderful deck designs by contacting us today. Contact us for a free consultation at (803) 603 – 2160
centralsc@archadeck.net

Archadeck of Central SC three generations of quality outdoor structures

The Archadeck of Central SC team – Mike Reu, Marshall Reu and Tucker Reu

Please visit our decks photo gallery and our composite and vinyl (PVC) deck photo gallery located on our website for more examples of lovely low-maintenance deck designs by Archadeck of Central SC.

Archadeck of Central SC explores the realm of synthetic decking and why it is important to hire a professional when considering a new low-maintenance deck or re-deck for your backyard

Composite deck with composite rail and flared stairs.

Composite deck with composite rail and flared stairs.

As you thumb through the pages of your favorite home and garden magazine, you may notice the large number of synthetic decks taking center stage. Synthetic decks have evolved over the past several years to encompass beauty in a wonderful array of hues, undulation and wood graining that rival the look of natural wood. Natural wood has met its match when compared to today’s composite decking. No other decking material requires as little maintenance asnsynthetic, nor can natural wood promise the longevity synthetic provides.

There are different genres of synthetic decking materials to choose from in today’s market. Each comes with its own low-maintenance benefits. Sometimes it is difficult to make a distinction from one type of synthetic to another. Archadeck of Central SC has prepared a breakdown of the three classifications of synthetic decking material  making it easier for homeowners to make an informed choice as to which synthetic will best suit their lifestyle and their budget.

Composite deck accented w gray trim & white rail

Composite deck accented with gray trim and white rail- a stunning contrast.

  • Composites – Low-maintenance composites and other man-made materials are a bit more costly than wood upfront, but once you factor in annual deck-care costs, composites will save you money in the long run. Composites are the most well-known of all synthetic products because they have been around the longest. Composites are now made to emulate the look of real wood, with wood graining and streaking that in a quality composite can rival the real thing. High quality composites will also deter the growth of mold and mildew by the addition of mold inhibitors present in the makeup of the composite, adding to the material’s ultimate charm. Archadeck of Central SC has had great success with TimberTech, one of the leaders in composite decking.

    Artful incorporation of stonework with a composite deck

    Artful incorporation of stonework with a composite deck.

  • Solid PVC Decking– Cellular PVC decking is a high- performance product made of solid cellular plastic. PVC decking, such as those in the AZEK line, come with both fade and stain warranty protection. PVC decking only requires minimal maintenance. It will not fade, warp, crack, splinter or stain. PVC is also moisture friendly and is used heavily around pools, spas and marinas.

    Waterside Deck

    Waterside Deck

  • Capstock – Capstock decking is referred to as the hybrid of decking materials because it contains a composite core  wrapped on 3 sides or in some cases all 4 sides in solid PVC. Many capstock brands, such as Fiberon, come with extensive stain and fade warranties. Like all synthetics, it requires no painting, staining or sealing. General soap and water cleanup is all that is asked of you.  The key to choosing the right capstock lies within the setting you wish to use it in. We recommend choosing a capstock product that is covered on all sides when used in humid and moist environments to avoid the risk of potential damage such as expansion and warping over time.
Composite spa deck by Archadeck of Central SC

Composite spa deck by Archadeck of Central SC.

Quality man-made synthetics were once only available to builders and contractors,  but now composites are readily available to homeowners at home improvement stores and building material outlets. Even though these materials are easily accessible to homeowners and do-it-yourselfers doesn’t mean that choosing to become a weekend warrior and install your own synthetic deck is the wisest decision. Unlike natural wood, synthetic’s makeup entails a product that is denser than natural wood. This density is part of what gives synthetics their low-maintenance qualities that make them so desirable. To avoid compromising the characteristics of the material it is important that it be installed properly. In order to get the most out of your low-maintenance deck we recommend having it installed by a licensed professional to ensure you get all the benefits out of your investment. Many synthetics need to be installed with pre-drilled holes to keep the integrity of the material intact. Some synthetics also require the use of a hidden fastener system to deliver that seamless look that synthetic decks are famous for. Archadeck of Central SC warns buyers to also beware of inferior grade synthetics sold at home improvement stores, because the price you pay for a synthetic in one of these retail outlets doesn’t always mean you get what you pay for. We get our materials directly from the manufacturer, which ensures all quality control standards are met with every synthetic board that comes through our doors.

Composite deck with spa deck by Archadeck

Try this composite deck and luscious spa deck on for size in your backyard.

If you are considering the addition of one of the many branded quality synthetic decks on the market today, or are considering redecking an existing deck, we urge you to contact Archadeck of Central SC to help you make an informed decision about which material is the best suited for your outdoor space needs, your budget and your lifestyle. Our knowledge and experience working with synthetics over the years can ensure a space that not only meets but exceeds your expectations. Call today for a free design consultation (803) 603 – 2160
centralsc@archadeck.net

Archadeck of Central SC three generations of quality outdoor structures

The Archadeck of Central SC team – Mike Reu, Marshall Reu and Tucker Reu

Please visit our decks photo gallery and our composite and vinyl (PVC) deck photo gallery located on our website for more examples of lovely low-maintenance deck designs by Archadeck of Central SC.