Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wood or Composite?

It's another busy week around here. Trying to get the exterior of a house painted, but the weather doesn't seem to want to cooperate. When we started last Friday it got up to 101 degrees and the last two days it's been around 55-60 and raining.

April showers bring May flowers, but May rain is just a big pain. Oh well, by tomorrow it should level out and be decent again.

While we had our little heat wave (yes that's what we call 100 degrees in Oregon Songbird) I recalled a deck project that I worked on a couple of years ago. I remembered it because it was about 104 when I was working on it and as you will see from the following pictures it was in the full sun. Good South-west exposure, with zero shade.

Outside of the heat it really was a fun project. The client had an old cedar deck that had been neglected for quite some time. The wood was extremely dried out and the underside had areas of rot where it connected to the house. Apparently when it was first constructed, the builder never put any metal flashing between it and the house, so over the years the wood soaked up water and rotted both the deck and the siding on the house.

I completely removed the old deck and started from scratch, and yes I put the proper flashing in place for them. I suggested they go with a composite material decking instead of wood again, so they wouldn't have to stain/seal it every year or two. The up front cost is a bit more, but I have never had anybody regret going this route once it's in. The only maintenance on this baby is to wash it once a year.

All of the under pitting (framing) is pressure treated lumber too. Even though it has no contact with the ground I like to use this type of lumber because it provides for a worry free type of construction. In twenty five years, this deck will look pretty much the way it did the day it was built.

Here are some before and after shots with roughly the same perspective. For some reason the last one I didn't have a before shot of. In case you're wondering, the composite material is from a company called TimberTech.


Ron said...

WOW, Jeff...the replacement actually LOOKS like wood!

But you said it's not?

It's beautiful! You do such nice work, buddy!

I love a house with deck. I have a friend of mine who has a condo at the beach, and she has two decks. One in front and one in the back. It's great sitting out there at night.

Hey...we've been having the same FREAKY weather here too. Last month it felt like summer already. I can't believe it's May...and it's actually cool during the day, and cold at night. But I'll NEVER complain about that!

Glad to hear everything is going well at work!

Thanks for the post, Jeff. Enjoyed it!

Jay said...

Those composite material decks are very nice. I first saw them on Ask This Old House. That's where I see all the new stuff first. Either on that show or on This Old House. I love both of those shows.

Rhea said...

Nice lookin' deck! I want one! Looks good. Built to last, right?!

Desert Songbird said...

The deck looks gorgeous, darlin', but you know what? Round these parts 100 degrees is hot, too. Of course, we had 108 yesterday and the day before, today it was only 93, and by Friday it's supposed to be storming and 75. Go figure.

You do nice wood working, my friend. Wanna come down here and do some for me? I promise if you come in December, it probably won't be over 80 degrees.

Dana said...

I did my best to talks my husband into a composite deck, but he is a purist and would settle for nothing less than "real" wood! I'll remind him of that when we are replacing it in a few years!

Mel said...

Well, we're at a whopping 45 degrees.......*sigh*
Is it summer yet?

Very nice craftsmanship there, sir.
I don't suppose you found the business card stuck in that space where the metal flashing shoulda been, huh?

CrystalChick said...

Our weather is crazy now so one minute the a/c is on and the next I'm under comforters.
Nice deck on that house!!
Hubby gets calls alot from people who need their old decks powerwashed, stained, sealed, etc. Those are long hard jobs and people wonder why it's such an expense. Your way is better. He'd be happy to not have to do the deck work sometimes.

Odat said...

Do you travel to the East Coast? If so, I'll hire ya!

Very nice...and it looks classy.


buffalodickdy said...

With our weather changes in Michigan, the composites are gaining quickly in popularity...

leelee said...

Nice work Jeff..I suppose that composite matierial would be great here in SoFla where a wood deck is a ridiculous waste of money, due to weather and bug conditions.

Dang if you weren't clear across the country I'd hire you to build one.


nitebyrd said...

I was thinking the same thing as leelee. This type of decking would be perfect for Florida!

Beautiful deck, Jeff!

Dianne said...

If you're coming to the East Coast for Odat please stop off here in NJ.

My son would love to learn from somebody who know what they're doing.

That deck is amazing, beautiful job.

Weather here is crazy too. Temps up and down, rain and sun in the same few moments.

Mother Nature sure is pissed off.

Bond said...

I have seen the composite stuff and it really is very realistic...and NO SPLINTERS! LOL

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Looks great. I too would do the same. Wood is lots of work. I'm getting ready to stain the fence again. Yikes.

I have a challenge for you:

The BlogBlast For Peace Meme ~ Join The Revolution.

Have a great day. :)

Jeff B said...

Ron- They really have come a long way with thse materials over the past years. I remember when I first saw some composites maybe fifteen+ years ago, they were pretty cheesy looking. Now though, they can be pretty nice.

Jay- Those are cool shows. I'm trying to remember the name of the one Norm Abrahms does. That guy is an amazing craftsman!

Rhea- My mooto is, "If it's worth building, it's worth over building!" I wouldn't be surprised if the deck outlasts the house.

Songbird- What, You want me to leave Oregon in December with all of its freezing rain and general nastyness to come to Arizona where it would be sunny and warm? Put me down for the whole month!

I remember living in Indio, CA (near Palm Springs) where the average temp was 110 during the summer. People would say, "But it's dry heat." to which my response was, "Ovens are dry heat to, but they're not real fun to be in.

Dana- I can already hear the "I told you so's" heading his way. I still like the look of a wood deck better, but most people stop the maintenance after the first couple of years and then it's all over.

Crystalchick- A lot of people seem to think they're going to save some money by not staining/sealing it on a regular basis, but as I'm sure you and hubby know it ends up costing them more in the long run.

Odat- Sounds like I could make quite the circut around the country, meeting you and the others while leaving a deck behind at each house. This has some possibilities.

Jeff B said...

Buffalo- Long winters and hot humid summers don't seem to have any affect on these.

Leelee- Bugs don't like this stuff at all, you just have to be careful of the aligators.

Nitebyrd- I'm sure it would do great in Florida.

Dianne- Sounds like a trip to the east coast is in order. I haven't been to that side of the planet for about twenty years.

Bond- That is definitely a nice side benifit.

Sandee- Thanks for the heads up. I'm planning on putting a peace globe together for the 4th.

Jahooni said...

Very nice. I love decs like that, i don't have one :(

It looks ready for a party!

Akelamalu said...

The after shots are great, you did a fab job. How on earth did you work in that heat?

Jules~ said...

That is very nice work. I think I will be calling on you in a couple of years to do our deck.

david mcmahon said...

Looks great, especially with the before and after shots, Jeff.

I've been AWOL because of the new job.....

Anndi said...



The great thing about composite is the resistance to bugs.. no need for an exterminator they just aren't cute ya know) and you don'have to maintain it and stain it.

Nice work!

Jeff B said...

Jahooni- Break out the BBQ and the cooler, it's party time.

Akelamalu- Lots and lots of water. I fast as I drank it though I sweat it back out.

Jules- Ring me any time.

David- Nice to see you again. Hope the new job is going well.

Anndi- Now how do you know that the exterminator isn't cute?


Travis said...

I've seen commercials for this TimberTech company. The deck looks fantastic!

CrazyCath said...

What a difference Jeff! Well worth the effort. I do before and after shots - you can look back and say "I did that!" which is what I do with my garden. ;0)

Nice job.

katherine. said...

nice work! you really could do a tour of the country building decks for your weblog buddies...

Timber Tech owes you.

Sandi McBride said...

Jeff, you do good work...but I've always wondered, does the composite feel hotter than the nice cool wood of my porch? It seemed to me it should, being it's not made of actual wood. Our weather has been a bit funny, too. It was 45 this morning and 90 this afternoon. But we NEED the rain, so of course, you're getting it, lol!

Jeff B said...

Travis- This is a great brand, but even Trex is doing some pretty good stuff now.

Crazycath- It's fun to be able to take a look back and see the difference.

Katherine- Eh, now big deal. They are a good company, so I don't mind giving them a plug when I can.

Sandi- The color of the material plays the biggest part. The darker it is the more heat it absorbs, thereby making it hotter. If you compared them apples to apples, the composites may be slightly hotter.

Kimmie said...

Holy Cats Jeff! You do wonderful work!!! I like the look of the composite deck. Wood is nice, but I get so irritated when I see people put so much money into them and then let them go. They get so nasty looking. Thanks for showing us your before and after pictures, you surely are a very good craftsman. :-)