According to the National Realtors Association, the average return on adding a deck is around 70 percent. It is no wonder so many homeowners around Clarksville are turning to them as an improvement investment for their home. New manmade composite lumber is often a good choice when building a new deck.
But when it comes to adding a deck, there are so many options to consider:
- What size do you add?
- What will it be used for?
- Will there be any built-in features?
- Is it attached to your house or stand alone?
- What will it be made out of?
The first four questions will influence the answer to what to make it out of. There are more options than just wood, though that is the most commonly considered option. Let’s look at the common options and the benefits of each so you can make an informed decision.
Deck Construction Options
Wood is the most common decking material. However, even within wood decking, there are various grades of options. Of course, you could use something like a pressure treated pine, which is plentiful and relatively inexpensive. However, you do get what you pay for. Better wood materials include redwood or cedar. However, these are not nearly as plentiful or as easily harvested, and so bring with it a higher price.
When you consider wood, also consider the environmental impacts. If you do choose something like cedar or redwood, consider how long a new tree must grow to replace the ones that were harvested for your new deck.
The other commonly considered option is composite lumber. This is a material that is a blend of wood fiber, polymer plastic, and resin. This concept gives the appearance of wood but has much less vulnerability than traditional wood. It is also considered to have far less maintenance than wood.
Also, composite is much more environmentally friendly. When you use a product like Trex, the polymer actually comes from recycled plastic bags. So you are not only saving some trees but also helping reduce another material landing in our landfills.
Maintaining a Wood Deck
Now let’s discuss what you will need to do to maintain a wood deck. After building it you will need to sand and stain it. The sanding is to prepare it for the stain, so be sure not to skip this step. Once it is stained, you will want to seal it with a water-resistant sealer. There are some options that mix the stain and the sealer, so check for what will work best in your situation.
After the first couple of years, your stain will start to fade. You may also start noticing some rough areas that become a risk for people getting splinters. The way to deal with that is to sand it down. Once you sand it, you will need to stain and seal it again. However, it may look odd if you do not do the entire deck together.
Maintenance for Composite Lumber
The draw of composite lumber for decking is because it is marketed as maintenance free. However, that is a bit of a misnomer, as it is really lower maintenance than traditional decking. It seems like it is no maintenance because there is no heavy work involved like sanding. But what does that maintenance actually look like?
First, you will want to keep your deck clean. This is as simple as sweeping it off frequently. After sweeping it off, you will want to wash it down. A garden hose will usually suffice for this job with a normal prayer attachment at the end.
You can power wash it if you like, just be careful the pressure is not too high or you may damage the decking. You can also use a mild soap like liquid dish soap. Use a medium stiffness brush for extra tough spots if you would like.
What Else You Need to Know
The average service life of a composite deck is 25 to 30 years. If you want to get the full service life from yours, there are a few other things you should be aware of to avoid unusual wear.
First, you want to be careful where your downspouts are located. You want to avoid water draining under your deck and causing your joists to wear. You also want to be sure there is no place on the deck that will encourage water pooling. This can not only encourage bacteria growth and bug problems, but also additional wear on your decking.
Be sure your deck is also properly vented to avoid excess heat build-up under your deck. Excess heat can cause additional wear to your decking materials, including unusual warping. Further, as the material heats and cools, it can cause it to become brittle over time. With that in mind, be sure you do not run your dryer vent under your deck to reduce the heat from that as well.