Frequently Asked Questions - Composite Decks

Q: What is composite decking?

A: Composite decking is a man-made decking material that typically consists of recycled wood and recycled plastic. Many manufacturers offer this material and all have their own "recipe." No composite board is made the same. You will find some really soft products, while others are really hard. Some fade substantially over time and others will never fade.

Q: What composite decking does Heritage Design recommend?

A: The composite decking world operates on the survival of the fittest. A company that offers a product with too many defects naturally runs into trouble and will not be around in a few years. We have seen our fair share of "latest and greatest" products, with many becoming obsolete or bankrupt within 2 years time. Trex has been proven in the industry over more than two decades, and is considered our "tried and true" composite. Year after year Trex produces new and improved products to address customer's concerns, while offering a solid foundation of experience and integrity.

Q: Why is it so expensive?

A: Composite decking is more expensive to produce, therefore the final product costs more than, say, a pressure treated wood deck. Composite is also a little harder to work with. The preferred fastening method for composite products involves hidden clip systems attached to the framing, a process which takes a bit more time than standard wood decking installation.

Q: Is the framing made from composite too?

A: No. The framing for a composite deck will be pressure treated wood, as dictated by the local building codes. Composite wood is not considered structural, so posts, beams, and joists all need to be pressure treated wood.

Q: I heard from a friend that composite decks don't pass code--is that true?

A: Bit of a loaded question, that one. The composite decking itself should have no problems getting approved. On the other hand, matching composite railings can be tricky in terms of deck permits. We haven't had many issues over the last 3 to 4 years. Prior to that time, local building authorities were not allowing composite railings due to the inclusion of recycled material. Unfortunately, a certain amount of uncertainty exists when applying for a permit, as each city/township operates differently and railings that pass in one town, may not pass in another. If we run into problems with a deck design, Heritage highly recommends using aluminum railing as an attractive, maintenance free solution.

Q: I saw a deck on some TV show that had all these curves in it. Can you do that?

A: To a degree, yes. Another nice thing about composite decking is that it's malleable and becomes even more so when heated.

Q: So is a plastic deck the same as a composite deck?

A: No, not really. A plastic deck is just that--plastic. Composite deck products use a combination of plastic and wood.

Q: Will it grow mold?

A: Due to the presence of organics in the product, there is a chance that composite decking will grow mold. We've found that decks installed closer to the ground have a higher chance of developing mold and mildew. On the plus side, we've also noticed that the most recent product line from Trex (Transcends Series) has had no problems in close-to-ground installations.

Q: Can I do angled decking?

A: Yes, for sure. You just have to make sure that your joists are installed at 12" centres, rather than 16" centres.

Q: I have an older deck. Can I replace the deck boards with composite boards?

A: As long as your framing is solid and installed at the proper spacing (16" centres or 12" centres), replacing the deck boards is entirely possible. Give us a call to arrange for a free estimate.