Is Trex Decking The Right Choice For You

If you are getting ready to build a deck in your yard, one of the biggest decisions you will make is what kind of materials to use. Luckily, when building a deck there are not very many different choices when it comes to materials, there is wood, vinyl, concrete, and the new composite products like Trex Decking. Many people elect not to build a deck out of concrete because of the enormous cost involved.

Trex Decking

Courtesy Joe Shlabotnik

Not using concrete limits your choices to vinyl, wood, or one of the new manufactured products. The problem with wood is the amount of maintenance involved in keeping it looking nice; with vinyl, you are really limited on the colors available and it also can be easily dented as I have found with my vinyl siding. If you are looking for a wide variety of colors, and you want something that looks like wood but has low maintenance, Trex Decking may be the right choice for you.

This article marks a change in my thinking as regards to building materials. I grew up in a sawmill family – taking trees and cutting them into lumber, planks, and beams that were used for construction all over the country.

My maternal grandfather, Frank, owned and operated a sawmill sawing lumber on the Oregon coast. My paternal grandfather, Virgil, was the head sawyer in that mill. My dad and several uncles also worked in this mill over the years.

Virgil’s job was to cut the logs (sections of trees) into slabs and beams. The slabs were then cut into common sizes such as 2X4, 2X6, 4X4 and others. The beams were used as structural members of office buildings, apartment building, warehouses, and docks. A lot of New York was built with lumber shipped across the country from this little mill on Beaver Creek.

I never worked in my grandfather’s mill, it shut down in the 60’s, but I have worked in other mills over the last 25 years. Mostly I have worked in maintenance were I learned a lot of what I write about in this site. Since I come from a sawmill family, I just naturally always thought that lumber was best for decking. In particular, Western Red Cedar decks. That is, until my brother-in-law installed a Trex decking system at his house.

Trex Decking Materials
Trex is unlike any other decking material that you have ever seen; it is actually a composite. Trex composite decking is made from recycled plastic and wood fibers, some of the recycled products used to make these boards are sawdust, plastic bags that once carried groceries, and old pallets. And there is no need to worry about the quality of the products produced because all of the recycled products used in the manufacturing process are carefully screened – only the best of the best is used. Using recycled products to form their boards and beams allows you to choose a green alternative for your fencing, decking, or railing needs.

Why Choose Trex Decks?
In order to decide if Trex is the right choice for your building needs it is important to understand why so many different people choose this long lasting composite material over real wood. Sure real wood is nice to look at, but who wants to spend half the summer maintaining their wood deck or fence. The majority of people would rather be sitting out on the deck enjoying it! For those looking to enjoy the outdoors, this is a great choice because of how little maintenance is required. With this product, there are no worries about sanding, painting, or staining, plus it will never splinter. Wood can end up being damaged by insects, and it can also rot and warp due to the environment, Trex has none of these problems and it is highly durable.

Trex Decking Cost
Money is another important factor when considering what to use for your deck, and yes, the cost of Trex decking is more than the cost of most woods. However, if you look at the long term Trex decking prices compared to wood decking prices, this new material ends up being cheaper in the long run due to the low maintenance. Wood decks need to be stained, painted, or sealed at least every few years to help protect them from the elements; this not only takes money but also takes a lot of time to properly complete. In fact, studies show that after owning a Trex deck for seven years you will have spent the same amount as owning a wood deck built from pressure treated wood. Plus, the time involved in caring for you new deck is drastically reduced because of the low maintenance. I don’t know about you, but I am really not interested in spending all weekend repairing and re-staining my deck every couple of years. With this product there is just not much more you have to do other than enjoy it.

Something else that many people wonder about with this material is why it is so much more expensive than wood if it is made from recycled materials. Many people assume that any product made from recycled materials is going to be cheaper than something made from a natural resource, but that is not always the case. This new building product is more expensive than wood because of how the materials being reused in the manufacturing process. Creating these planks is not just your run of the mill processing procedure. Quality control is important throughout the entire process which means Trex takes every measure necessary to ensure they are only using the finest products.

Choosing The Perfect Trex Decking Colors
Unlike wood decks this product cannot be painted or stained, so you need to make sure that you choose the right color from the beginning. The best way to do this is to bring a sample home and see how it fits in with the paint of your home. You can look at all the color swatches you can find but if you are like me, you really can’t picture what a color will end up looking like until you have a sample. One idea is to go ahead and buy one plank in the color you think you will like and then bring it home and lay it out where your new deck will be. If you don’t like the color when you get it home then take it back and trade it for another.
One thing to keep in mind is that Trex will fade slightly in time because the wood fibers lighten as they are exposed to the elements. This means that the colors will actually wash out over time and become a slightly lighter shade. So as you choose your decking color be sure to remember that after a few weeks or months the color will not be quite as dark.

Trex Decking Installation
Installing Trex decking is very similar to installing wood, in both cases you want to have a plan of action already mapped out. Before you can even begin assembling your deck, you will need to lay the foundation and put in any footers and piers required for your plan. Once the foundation has set, at least 24 hours later, you can begin to assemble the joists, girders, and band, making sure the distance between joists is in accordance with your city’s code. Building the base for a deck is beyond the scope of this article, and there are not many differences when using Trex to build your deck or wood.

Once all of the joists are in place you can move onto installing the floor of the deck, make sure that you allow room for the recommended gap between each plank; that is, one piece should not be set right next to the next piece without any spacing. This allows for water to flow down away from the surface. If you butt the pieces right up next to each other you will trap rain water, snow melt, and cleaning water on the top of your structure which will be a big problem. Not only can it be tracked into your home, but it also will freeze on cold nights causing a very slick and dangerous condition.

One of the few Trex decking problems when laying down the planks and securing them is stripping out the heads of the screws because of how hard it is to drill in the screws. To work around this problem the best thing you can do is to pre-drill your holes before you attempt to put the deck together. Just drill a small pilot hole in the deck board and then the screws will easily turn into the joists. Another way to get around this problem, which will save you time, is to use composite decking screws. They actually drill their own holes as they go through the decking.

Trex Decking Cleaning
Even though this deck is considered low maintenance that does not mean there is no cleaning involved. Learning how to clean Trex decking is really quite easy because it has a very hard surface and thus most substances will be able to be just rinsed away. This is unlike natural wood which can be come stained quite easily if it is not sealed. This ease of maintenance was really one of the main selling points that lead me to realize how economical this product is.

Cleaning Trex decking is going to be required if you want it to stay looking good, but on the plus side it only has to be cleaned twice a year and very little effort is involved. As soon as your new deck has been installed, you should clean it to remove dirt the contractors may have tracked around, don’t use any harsh chemicals though. Almost all dirt and debris can be removed with hot, soapy water and a soft bristled brush. However, if there is any ground in dirt or even rust stains a cleaning product with a phosphoric acid base can be used to remove the dirt or rust. Oil and grease stains, common from BBQs, can be removed using the same degreaser you would use in your kitchen. After cleaning your deck make sure, you rinse it off with hot water to remove any chemical residue!

Trex Decking Reviews
The main problem that has been reported with this product in the reviews has been mold growth issues. According to their web site, Trex is not a food source for mold and mildew. Keeping your clean will go a long way toward limiting mold. If it does appear, there are several composite decking cleaners that can be used to help remove it.
There was another problem with surface flaking when the product first came out but that seems to have been taken care of. As with any building project, you should find out all the information you can before committing to any design or product.
For what it is worth, my brother-in-law is still happy with his deck.

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Are you looking for up to date information on Garages, Floors, and Coatings? If so, this is the place you need to be.

This site came about one day because I was looking for the Best Floor Coating to install in my garage. I just couldn’t find any good information that would help me to make a decision.

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