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Planning a new deck?

Why it's worth considering a composite material instead of wood

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By Theresa Goffredo
Herald Writer
No longer will homeowners have to settle for less when they add a nonwooden deck to their homes, then worry that the composite material they've chosen looks too fakey.
Nowadays, homeowners can choose from a wider selection of colors along with deck materials that look a lot more like real wood.
"The selection is more attractive colors," said Paul Kleven, owner of Deck Pro in Woodinville. "These new colors highlight more woodgrains, and they look more realistic."
Deck Pro showcases what Kleven called the "new evolution in decking," which is composite material that offers a lot less maintenance and a longer warranty.
NW Custom Deck owner Chris Bullock said he's seen this evolution in deck material.
Having been in the business since 1988, Bullock has seen the changes, so that today composites don't get slippery in wet weather, and the palette goes way beyond that battleship gray.
"They were not very pleasing to look at," said Bullock, whose company specializes in outdoor decks, Trex deck material, and gazebo and hot tub surrounds. The company serves Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.
Now, Bullock said, most composites use a PVC shell that is "just about bulletproof" so homeowners don't have to worry about such mishaps as spilling grease from a barbecue grill onto a deck.
"Fast forward to today and 90 percent of the decks we do are composite. Ten percent are cedar or ironwood," Bullock said.
The cost breakdown has real wood coming in cheaper at an average cost of $16 a square foot for cedar versus a Trex composite running about $19.50 a square foot, Bullock said.
"Yes, you are going to pay a little more upfront for the product, but you will not have to pay to maintain it," Bullock said.
So with all the brands and colors out there, how can a homeowner choose?
It comes down to what the homeowner wants in terms of matching a product to the existing home, said Kleven, who said Deck Pro carries Trex and TimberTech.
Kleven said some manufacturers also offer a 25-year stain and fade resistance on their products. Kleven joked that most people move out of their home before these new deck materials have a chance to age.
Now that the weather is just beginning to turn, it's a good time to get started with adding a new deck to a home, what with contractors' pricing at a low and with reduced material costs, Kleven said.
"These last few years people have started becoming more aggressive about getting decks done earlier," Kleven said. "Now people are thinking ahead of getting the deck done so they can enjoy the deck when the weather finally does improve and you can go outside."
Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424;

Swab the deck
Some tips for keeping your deck shipshape:
Clean: If you have a combination of a wood deck and dogs, home improvement columnists, the Carey Bros., suggest this concoction to remove muddy paw prints and other markings your pet leaves behind: Clean the wood surface then combine 1 quart of liquid chlorine bleach, 1/3 cup of powdered laundry detergent and 3 quarts of warm water. Add the bleach to the water first and then the detergent. Pour the mixture into a pump garden sprayer. Wet small areas at a time and scrub with a nylon-bristle-brush.
Replace: Mike Holmes, star of "Holmes Inspection" on HGTV, says that if you spot decay or have any boards that seem soft and spongy, you may only need to have a section replaced. A detached ledger board, the beam where the deck meets your house, is the most common source of failure. Check to see if there's a wide gap between it and your home, and whether any bolts have loosened or nails have popped out.
Power wash: Chris Bullock of NW Custom Deck recommends an ecology friendly cleaner on composite decks or Simple Green. Homeowners can also use a power washer with the setting on high volume but the pressure setting on low.

Deck Pro, Woodinville; 425-766-7829,
NW Custom Deck,, 206-235-4545
Story tags » Lifestyle & LeisureHome Improvement

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