TRENDS IN BACKYARD LANDSCAPING #2 - COMPOSITE DECK MATERIALS
The benefits of hiring a professional landscaping company to achieve the ideal outdoor living space
Each year, a variety of decking materials and finishes appear on the market. This is in response to the demand for good-looking, long-lasting, low-maintenance alternatives to traditional wood decks. When these products were first introduced they often included only the decking, but now most product lines come with a full line of trim materials, handrails, and even lighting, that can be combined for a complete project.
Many of these products are covered by comprehensive warranties and most lines are available in a variety of colours and finishes making it easy to find one that suits any project. Fastening systems have also evolved, including hardware that requires no surface fasteners and/or screws and plugs that provide a clean, finished look.
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For instance, building code requirements need to be kept in mind, e.g. alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ) treated framing lumber requires special fasteners due to its corrosive nature on some metals. Further, due to its flexible nature, composite decking materials have a tendency to mirror the contours of the deck framing more than conventional wood; therefore, skill is required to make sure the framing is perfectly flat. Expansion and contraction of the decking as temperatures change also must be accounted for.
In years past, a deck was a good do-it-yourself (DIY) project, but times have changed. From a design perspective, you will likely require a building permit; therefore, knowledge of any restrictions that may be present must be considered.
Decking projects can vary widely in cost, but you should expect to pay a premium for composite materials. Using 5/4 Western red cedar as a base point, composite will cost five to six times more. (The structure is the same in both cases.) You should also take into account the additional costs of staining and maintaining a cedar deck versus a maintenance-free composite deck. You will still be further ahead with a cedar deck based on cost comparison for a long time. However, the perception that composite decking—despite the higher cost—will automatically make your project look more upscale is correct.