How About a Recycled Plastic Deck?
Yes, it isn't just for park benches anymore--recycled
plastic jugs and other alternatives are now competing with wood as the
deck-building materials of choice. Perhaps not as aesthetically
pleasing as wood but attractive in their own right, synthetic decks are
nonetheless easier to maintain than wooden decks, says The
All of this depends on how much you are willing to spend for
materials, and how much you hate doing maintenance. What you
save in labor from periodically cleaning and sealing a wooden
deck might be offset by higher costs for synthetic materials.
Recycled plastic, for example, typically costs more than twice as
much as pressure-treated pine, the most common decking material.
Made up of milk jugs and plastic detergent bottles that otherwise
would have gone into the trash, recycled deck materials cater to
the environmentally-conscious. Vinyl decking is more expensive
than wood, too.
Heat and glare are two other possible downsides for plastic and
vinyl. Choose a lighter color for your plastic deck that doesn't
absorb heat as readily. No one needs a "hotfoot" in the summer,
especially with children around. Avoid white vinyl decking, too,
or you'll be squinting through the glare at your party guests all
summer. Other colors are available.
But before you run out and buy pressure-treated pine, the
cheapest material, think ahead to many years of scrubbing and
sealing your deck. If you have any doubts about keeping on a 1
to 2-year maintenance schedule, consider a synthetic alternative.
Without proper maintenance, wooden decking swells and shrinks
with changes in temperature and moisture, which causes cracking,
curling and cupping, especially in colder and wetter climates.
The nails start popping out and slivers appear... ouch. In some
parts of the country, algae starts building up and creates an
ugly black or green patina on the wood.
Trex is a newer hybrid product at the lower end of the price
scale, made in Winchester, VA. Constituted from 50% recycled
plastic and 50% sawdust, it looks odd at first, but soon starts
to take on the appearance of wood a couple of months after
installation. It's maintenance free but also stains easily so
you'll need watch spills and keep it clean.
You'll also need to consult with local building code officials
before choosing a non-wood decking material. They will want
reassurances that the product is structurally adequate. Remember
that the support structure underneath will still be made of wood.
And a final word of warning which applies to all future deck
owners: carefully, cautiously and comprehensively assess your
home's construction for solid anchor points to attach your deck.
Recent deck collapses have raised concerns about deck safety.