Having A custom deck is one of the many perks of home ownership. It’s not only an outdoor entertainment space but can also an extension of the house. For example, if the weather is right, what was going to be made in the kitchen can be done outdoors.
On the other hand, the perks of a deck also come with a fair amount of maintenance. Especially for one made of natural woods. Even when the deck builder creates what looks like an impenetrable foundation and floor, there’s still work to be done during to keep it looking good each year.
Conversely, a composite decking doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. In fact, it’s basically maintenance-free. Besides sweeping and stain removal, this form of deck looks the same during the initial installation as it will a decade later.
So, is maintenance-free decking really maintenance-free? For the most part, yes, here’s why:
Composite Deck Construction
When you look around Clarksville, most of the decks you’ll see are made of some form of wood. Normally, this is redwood or cedar or some form of pressure treated lumber.
The first two come from a lumber yard but may not have built-in protections from wear and tear. On the other hand, pressure-treated wood is created by injecting a solution of preservation materials into its surface. It increases the wood’s longevity; however, there’s still a risk for wear and damage.
Composite decking materials are constructed with a combination of wood and plastic. The latter items usually come from materials like plastic bags to maintain sustainability. To ensure its near-invulnerability, the deck items are coated with a tough resin.
Why Use Composite Decking?
Here’s the main reason why a deck builder may recommend the use of composite materials. None of the annual maintenance tasks are required to keep its fresh and new look. Consider what you have done in the past to keep your wood deck usable.
- Sanded down rough areas.
- Stained some or all of the deck, particularly areas faded by the sun.
- Replaced nails that popped out of the wood.
- Replaced cracked or warped pieces of lumber.
- Checked for or had to remove termites.
- Replaced the entire deck because it was so worn.
Here’s the maintenance required for a composite deck: it needs to be swept and power-washed.
So, if people want to get technical, decks made of composite materials are low maintenance. However, it isn’t as physically intensive as what’s needed for one made of wood.
There’s another reason why decks made with composite materials are nearly maintenance-free. They tend to have warranties that extend decades. Some of the most common composite manufacturers offer as much as 25 years on a warranty.
As a result, the deck is protected through the time you’re in the home. Or, it can be passed to the next series of owners. Should there be a defect that causes an issue, the warranty ensures the damaged parts are replaced with new material.
How Much Maintenance is Needed?
It doesn’t matter if a deck is made of wood or composite material, cleaning it on a regular basis helps to keep its beauty. While a thorough cleaning on a wood deck might require sanding and painting, a composite-made deck only needs a broom and some soap.
Here are few things that owners need to do
- Sweep: Any type of debris, natural or man-made, should be swept off the deck as frequently as possible. An outdoor broom is more than adequate to perform this task.
- Wash: A wash-down with your garden hose is fine to maintain the deck’s shine. If the deck hasn’t been cleaned for a long time, then a gentle soap and warm water mixture will do the trick.
- Tough Stains: Should the above wash not work on stubborn stains, the next step is to get close. Use a soft bristle brush with soap to remove it. This prevents any burnishing of the deck’s finish.
- Spills: Wipe down food and drink stains as soon as they’re made. It’ll easily wipe up at that point. If they stay there for several days, then you’ll need to clean it using the brush and soap.
- Shovel And Melt: Use a plastic shovel to remove snow from the deck’s surface. There’s a scratch risk if you use a metal shovel. When the deck is coated with a layer of ice, use rock salt or sodium chloride to help the melting process. The composite materials are protected from the harshness of these products.
- Avoid Solvents: There’s no need to use cleaning solvents on a composite-based deck. Products like acetone can cause scarring or staining on the materials. As mentioned above, soap and water are the only things needed to wash dirt and other debris off the deck.
- Avoid Negligence: Like a wood deck, the longer you wait to clean one made of composite materials the harder it’ll be to clean. You don’t need to spend hours on its maintenance. A brief sweep and wash-down should take less than 20 minutes to complete.
The Bottom Line
Yes, there is some maintenance to keep a deck made with composite decking looking as good as when it was installed. However, what it takes to clean and remove stains is a lot easier to accomplish over a wood deck. Warping, fading, cracks, termites, and fungus are just a few that don’t occur in the wood-plastic combination.
Maintenance in those situations might not be something a homeowner can repair. A deck builder representative might need to come out. This can be expensive, especially if the deck needs to be rebuilt.
A deck of composite material could be more expensive at first. However, the return on investment will be greater the longer you own the home. In addition, it could help raise the selling price when you’re ready to move out.
The type of deck is up to you and both can be great. Being aware of what type of maintenance to expect upfront can save you from disappointment when maintenance time rolls around.