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Is This the Right Decking for You?

Before you make a commitment, weigh the pros and cons of composites

Reduced maintenance: Forget about having to bleach and stain wood every other year. With the money you save by not using these coatings and cleaning materials, you can recoup the higher cost of composites in about five years.
Long life: Composites don't rot or attract termites, they can't warp or check, and you can go barefoot without fear of splinters.
Minimal fading: All composites turn a slightly lighter shade after the first two or three months in the sun, then the fading stops. (Left to its own devices, wood inexorably turns gray.)
Longer boards: Up to 20 feet, which means fewer end joints.
High recycled content: Every 10 square feet contains nearly 3,000 recycled plastic shopping bags and 1,100 one-gallon milk jugs.

High initial cost: Low-end composites are priced about 30 percent higher than pressure-treated pine. High-end composites run about the same as ipe (ee-PAY), a hardwood decking harvested from tropical rain forests.
Easily scuffed: Moving furniture, frisky dogs, and gritty shoes will abrade new composites. Light scratches can't be sanded out but do blend in over time.
Prone to staining: The wood fibers are easily stained by food and grease. And the hardwood in many mixes can create uneven brownish tannin stains early on when wet, but they typically disappear over time.
Hot underfoot: Like dark hardwoods, dark composites heat up as they bake in the sun. Lighter-colored and deeper-grooved boards are more barefoot-friendly.
Doesn't really look like wood: Some boards do a better job at mimicking wood than others, but a close look or touch gives them away.

MORE: Deck Material Varieties
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