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Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What are the choices for materials?
  2. How should I maintain the deck?
  3. How long does a deck last?
  4. Will composites last forever?
  5. What is the best choice for materials?
  6. What about invisible fastening systems?
  7. Do I need a permit?
  8. Are screws better than nails?
Q. What are the choices for materials?
A. the common choices, [lowest cost first], are :

  • Pressure Treated lumber
  • mahogany
  • composites
  • Q. How should I maintain the deck?
    A. The reason people will pay more for a composite deck is because, other than washing, it needs no maintenance. A wood deck [any wood] will age better if it is properly cleaned & sealed. The normal schedule for this is every 1-2 years.
    Q. How long does a deck last?
    A. I have replaced decks that were 10 to 30 years old. The average is probably 15-20 years, depending upon how they were built, how they were maintained, type of materials, and location of deck.
    Q. Will composites last forever?
    A. Composites are still young to the market, so it's hard to say how they will age and last. The early “trex” decks do seem like they will last forever, but they do age and tend to look like they need to be replaced, and I have replaced some for that reason. The same can be said for pressure treated decks. Although the grain can splinter & check to the point of breaking apart, they are usually not rotting or falling apart when I replace them [if they were built properly] they just don't look good anymore.
    Q. What is the best choice for materials?
    A. That depends on you. Do you like the warm natural look of wood? Do you mind the maintenance? Are you on a tight budget? Does the look of the composite bother you? Do you hate splinters? There are many new composites on the market, some come and go quite quickly. The one I like is “Azek” There are also a few good railing systems available now,”trademark” railing is a very popular one. A composite deck & rail system can be very costly. But if you add in the maintenance, painting of the railing, it may work out to about even after a few years. If you really like wood, the pressure treated deck is a good low cost practical choice, and it can be painted or stained. Mahogany is still plentiful and available, it is a good choice for a better looking wood deck. The solid mahogany railings can be pricey but they really look great. And although It has jumped up in price it is still a good value. White cedar is a favorite of mine…but very expensive in a clear grade and not always available. Redwood is, of course the rolls Royce of wood decks, but it is more expensive than the composites, special order, and still requires treatment.
    Q. What about invisible fastening systems?
    A. I have used a few of them…some I would refuse to use. They are quite expensive the labor time is increased greatly. They can be problematic. There is a lot of experience required to choose whether or not it is a good idea. eg. I would not use any of them with Pressure treated [this is an obvious one]. The “tebo” system works well with “azek”. Make sure the person that is installing the system has the experience.
    Q. Do I need a permit?
    A. Most decks require a permit, however, there are some areas of flexibility.
    Q. Are screws better than nails?
    A. Sometimes. On most wooden decks the proper stainless steel nail works and looks best. I would always use stainless steel screws on any composite deck.