Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My deck is in awful shape. To be honest, my whole house is in awful shape. We are trying to remedy this but it takes time and money. So, one project at a time.

The problem is what do we do first? We have some projects inside and out, that are in different stages. We finally decided to finish the last inside project this winter (still not done), and work on some outside projects this spring/summer.

About my deck. The deck is composed of the type of decking lumber you can get at any home improvement store. I personally think this type of wood is bad for a variety of reasons. It is not cheap if you are doing a large project. It can splinter, warp, or rot if not taken care of properly. Even then, you will still have to replace it eventually as in our case. The most important reason is it is treated with arsenic.

So I started researching. If we go with wood, we need a good hard wood. Cedar seems to be the wood of choice. Cedar is very expensive. I really don't want to use wood. The maintenance on wood is costly and time consuming. Not to mention that I don't know where this cedar comes from so I am not sure it is the most environmentally right choice for us.

Next you have your composite decking. This sounds good but, is it really? This decking is made of plastic and fillers such as sawdust, rice, grain etc. So now you have natural products combined with synthetic products. Because this is made mainly with wood by-products, you still are susceptible to the same problems you have with wood. Also, if this is not installed properly, you can have splitting, cracking, etc. I have seen photos of this type of decking with warped boards, molded boards, etc. So I don't think for the cost this is the best choice.

Then you have plastic lumber. With this type of decking you still have to be careful. Not all plastics are the same. If you go with PVC plastic, you will have problems because it can become quite brittle in heat. The biggest problem is the health hazard related to PVC.

I think the best alternative for us is plastic lumber. This is made from 100% recycled milk jugs, water bottles, juice bottles,etc. This is commonly known as HDPE plastic. What I like the most about this type of plastic is that it is made solely of products that we already have. There are no composite fillers, hence no bugs, mold, warping, splintering etc. Also, if you want a color, the board is colored all the way through not just on the surface. This is a non-porous product. This means it will not absorb water, paint, oil, etc. The only drawbacks that I have found are price and installation. This product is quite expensive on the front end. But, if you tally up how much you spend in stain, waterproofing, and replacement boards, I think the savings will outweigh the cost in the long run.

If you want to learn more about plastic lumber, you can visit the below sites for more information.



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