Technology Snapshot & Benefits:
Alternative decking materials are rising in popularity because they are durable
and long lasting, require little to no maintenance, and most are composed of
recycled materials. The two most common types are wood/plastic composite lumber
and plastic lumber. A majority of alternative decking materials are made from
90-100% recycled materials that do not require the use of paints or sealers and
are not prone to cracking or splitting like their wood counterparts.
Estimated Cost Savings:
The initial investment in alternative decking materials is often more expensive
than traditional wood; however the paybacks are received in the form of reduced
maintenance and increased durability for longer lifespan. These materials
quickly pay for themselves in only a few short years, with savings on
maintenance in the thousands over the deck's lifetime.
With respect to installation and use, the issues to watch out for with these
materials are stains, molds, mildew and sagging. Stains are a leading drawback
with composite decking materials because they are made primarily from oak
fibers, which have a higher tannic acid content. Molds and mildew are also
common to composite decking materials, however can be avoided by proper spacing
between deck boards, allowing for drainage and avoiding the buildup of mold and
mildew-friendly water pools. Many manufacturers suggest periodic cleanings with
deck cleanser to prevent buildup. Finally, composite decking is weaker than
wood. Avoid sagging or drooping by building the deck according to the
(Getting It Done):
Alternative decking materials
can be cut, nailed, routed, drilled, and screwed in the same manner as wood.
They usually have a lower structural value than their wood counterparts, and so,
usually require narrower spacing between their support beams or joists. Work
with experienced contractors who specialize in the use of alternative decking
materials. Make sure that the manufacturer's specifications are followed to
ensure a healthy, beautiful, durable, and "environmentally friendlier" deck.
More Information On This Topic:
NADRA-North American Deck and Railing Association
Deck Information, Products and Service Providers