Composite Decking

Composite Decking: An Environmental Choice


Composite decking materials are made by combining plastic and wood. Where do these ingredients come from? Some environmentally responsible decking material producers use mostly recycled material. This means that while you enjoy a long-lasting, low-maintenance, beautiful and functional outdoor living experience, you also make a minimal impact on the planet.

Of course, it’s nice to think about being ecologically friendly, but you want your deck to last long as well. Composite decking materials have you covered there. They come in a wide variety of colors and grain choices, they can actually be less expensive during their lifetime when compared to other options, and they can last more than a couple of decades with very little maintenance.

Let’s take a closer look at composite decking materials and why they make sense for the Dallas area.

How Much Time, Money and Cleaning Does a Composite Decking Really Cost?

Some people will choose to build a pressure-treated pine decking rather than use composite materials. They love the fact that the initial, installed cost of a pressure-treated deck can be 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of building a composite deck.

What they may not have been told by their deck builder is that they can very easily spend more overall money than if they had gone with a composite material like Trex decking.

Wood decks need to be sanded and painted or stained. Expect annual maintenance and re-staining or painting every 2 to 3 years. You never have to stain or paint a composite deck, not initially nor ever. Over 10 years of maintaining a wooden deck, you can expect to spend about 30 hours each year on average sanding, staining, painting and conducting other normal maintenance tasks.

That number is just 2 to 4 hours each year with your composite deck.

The difference is intense, back bending, elbow grease-powered maintenance with a wood deck and just washing off your composite deck with a hose and some soapy water. Additionally, deck maintenance on a standard sized wooden deck could cost more than $5,000 over 10 years. That includes cleaning, staining or painting, and replacing parts. The same-sized composite deck could cost you as little as $500 in maintenance over that same 10-year period of time.

This is why you can expect to pay less for a composite deck over the lifetime of the product than you will for a wooden deck that requires a lot of maintenance.

How Much of Composite Decking Is Recycled Material?

The Trex company makes beautiful decking products which are 95% recycled plastic and wood. This includes old plastic shopping bags, plastic milk and water bottles, old wooden pallets, sawdust and discarded wood fiber.

Each year, Trex manufacturing methods keep over 500 million pounds of wood and plastic from ending up in landfills around the United States. This also keeps those materials from leaching into the water table and eventually ending up in our lakes, rivers and streams.

Fiberon is another popular composite decking material provider. Their products are nearly 94% recycled content. The top composite deck manufacturers ensure that you are making an environmentally conscious statement when you use their products.

How Long Do Composite Decks Last?

Trex was one of the first companies to introduce composite decking materials. The company stands behind its products, offering a fade or stain warranty for 25 years. That having been said, you can get 30 or even 40 years of consistent use and no-fade performance with a composite deck.

Forget about Splinters, Rotting and Other Wooden Deck Problems

Even the hardiest, most durable wood will eventually rot given enough time. That is not the case with composite decking materials. You don’t have to worry about warping and chipping, fading and staining, rotting and bothersome splinters.

This material is also insect-resistant, so no termites or other burrowing insects from harming the structural integrity of your deck.

If you would rather be spending your time on your deck rather than cleaning it, painting it, staining it and maintaining it, composites are the way to go. They last forever with little to no maintenance, and they cost less per year over their lifetime than wooden decks. Ask Dallas Deck Craft to see some composite decking samples if you want to build a long-lasting and good-looking deck in the Dallas area.

Pressure-Treated Pine Decking

Pine Decking: Pressure-Treated and Budget Friendly


Using pressure-treated pine decking in the Dallas area makes a lot of sense. The more time you can spend outside rather than inside the better it is for your health. The weather in Dallas and the surrounding cities gives you a lot of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. You can have a cookout for the family, entertain your friends or roll out the big screen and cheer the Rangers, Mavericks or Cowboys to victory.

Whether you want a deck surrounding your outdoor pool, a standard patio deck or some other type of deck, you have a few decisions to make. The first thing you have to decide is what type of decking material you’re going to use. For a lot of people in and around Dallas, pressure-treated pine is the easy decision.

Here are a few reasons why.

You Can’t Beat the Price of Pressure-Treated Pine Decking

Pressure-treated pine really is a budget-friendly decking material. Even people who don’t think they can afford a deck are usually pleasantly surprised at the friendly cost. You can build a quality pressure-treated pine deck for just 1/2 to 1/3 the price of some other decking materials.

Price alone is not the only reason to choose pressure-treated pine.

It Looks Like Real Wood!

No two pieces of natural wood look exactly alike. That’s not to say that your deck materials won’t match. We just bring up this fact because a lot of people don’t like the plastic or unnatural appearance of composite products and other decking materials.

Pressure-treated pine looks like real wood because it is real wood. It also smells and feels like authentic wood made by mother nature. There’s just something about a natural wood deck that feels “right”, and this is why a lot of people choose pressure-treated pine over composite decking.

Pine Decking Takes Paint and Stain Well

Pine is perfect for building a deck that matches the look of your home. Composite decking materials are only offered in a limited number of colors, but you can paint or stain your pressure-treated deck any color you like. And hey, if you decide on a different color or stain later, that’s possible with natural wood, but not composites.

Pressure-treated pine takes paint and stain very efficiently. This means you can always find just the perfect color and hue to match your home.

For That Low Price You Get to Enjoy Your Deck for a Long Time

Have your deck builder use quality pressure-treated wood and you can get more than 10 or even 15 years out of your deck. All it requires is regular maintenance and you can fully expect to get a lot of wonderful memories out of a quality pressure-treated deck.

cedar decking

Cedar Decking: A Beautiful, Versatile Material


Cedar has a rich history of use in the decking industry. Cedar is a beautiful wood that’s long-lasting. It’s versatile in that it takes stains very well. You can alternately decide to put a clear seal on cedar and capture the natural beauty of this elegant wood.

For homeowners thinking about building an outdoor deck in the Dallas area, Cedar is a good fit. Humid, wet and hot are words often used to describe Dallas summers. You need to keep this in mind if you’re thinking about which decking material you are going to use. With those considerations in mind, cedar is perfectly suited for relaxing on your deck at the end of a long day.

Let’s take a look at cedar as your decking material of choice. We’ll compare it to composites and pressure-treated pine, two other popular choices.

You Can’t Beat the Rich, Red Cedar Appearance

Cedar is a very popular choice as a decking material and is also found inside many homes. Probably the #1 reason cedar shows up in a bunch of decks, pergolas and outdoor entertainment centers is because it is downright gorgeous.

It effectively puts you in touch with mother nature, because it smells, looks and feels like natural wood.

Don’t get us wrong here. Composites are a great choice if you want a deck that lasts a long time and requires minimal maintenance. However, if you want a natural look and a hardy deck, it is tough to beat the rich and beautiful red colors, tones and hues of real cedar wood.

Cedar Decking is Durable And Naturally Resists Moisture

You want durability for your Dallas deck. You can get 20 years from a cedar deck, and longer with proper maintenance. We talked about the wet and humid conditions you can experience during the summers here. Cedar just doesn’t care, because it is naturally resistant to moisture absorption, rot and decay. This means it tends to last longer and need less maintenance than pressure-treated pine and some other natural wood choices.

By the way, cedar is also naturally resistant to insect infestation. You won’t have termites, wasps and other burrowing bugs eating into your deck.

You Get Great Value for Your Money

You can’t beat pressure treated pine if you’re looking for the cheapest possible decking material. However, the amount of time, money and elbow grease you are going to spend maintaining a pressure-treated deck over time are a lot greater than if you choose cedar instead.

The money up front for building a cedar deck is going to be greater than a pressure-treated deck. But the long-term money over time can be less, and your deck will last longer with minimal maintenance. Comparing the price of a cedar deck to popular composite materials means a much more attractive initial investment.

deck maintenance

Deck Maintenance: Care for Your Deck


Are you considering having a wood deck built? You should understand everything there is to know about deck maintenance before you do. An attractive price up front could mean considerable time, money and elbow grease maintaining your deck. You might be wise to pay a little more for composite decking materials. They need very little maintenance and look great for 20 or more years.

Maybe you already own a deck. You’re pretty sure you know what to do when it comes to maintenance and upkeep, but you just want to be sure. Your know-it-all neighbor says you’re doing it all wrong. He has you wondering if maybe you could learn a thing or two about deck maintenance that could protect your investment.

Either way, you know it can’t hurt to have a veteran deck builder share decades of maintenance knowledge with you. His expertise building, cleaning and maintaining decks could save you considerable money and frustration over the life of your deck. We’re here to help.

Here’s everything you need to know about deck maintenance, regardless what decking material you choose.

Deck Maintenance: Caring for a Wooden Deck

Many homeowners choose pressure-treated lumber as a decking material. It’s the least expensive wood, so it’s attractive to a lot of first time deck buyers. Along with pressure-treated wood, redwood, and cedar round out the 3 most common wooden decking material types.

Cedar and redwood naturally repel insects. They are denser and more durable woods than pressure-treated lumber, so they are rot-resistant. Each has a natural beauty that makes them very appealing. They just look great in your backyard. Redwood and cedar are more expensive than pressure-treated wood, but they are usually less costly than composite decking materials.

Whether you choose cedar, redwood or pressure-treated wood, here are the deck maintenance considerations you’ll have to make.

Brush or Sweep Regularly

Leaves, pine straw and other natural debris can stain your deck. Even on a wooden deck that has been stained or painted, collected leaves can cause discoloration. Don’t let leaves and other natural debris sit undisturbed for very long. This can lead to the development of mold and mildew that work their way into your wood.

There’s not too much you have to do as far as deck maintenance here.

Break out the broom and get to sweeping. You could use a long-handled wooden floor brush or a leaf blower as well. Clean your deck regularly, as needed. Get in the habit of doing this once or twice a week and you can keep mother nature’s deck staining inclinations at bay.

Cleaning and Removing Algae, Moss and Mildew

Before you clean your deck, give it an inspection. Look for mold or rot. Look carefully for broken screws, warped wood and broken pieces of wood. Sometimes nails will push up out of the wood. Make any repairs that are necessary, or call your deck builder to handle the job for you.

Wet wood attracts moss, mildew and sometimes algae. Not only do these fungi infiltrate your wood and damage its structural integrity, but they also look ugly. Then there’s the fact that they can be very slippery, causing an instant safety hazard. Moss and algae spread rapidly. That means if you don’t jump on the job quickly, a small problem could become a big one.

Brushing or sweeping your deck regularly can keep this from becoming a problem in most cases. Sometimes though, because of a lack of sunlight and an accumulation of moisture, you will have to deal with these nasty, natural deck invaders.

Here’s what you need to do.

You can purchase a mold and mildew remover from your local home improvement store. You can also make your own. Mix a cup of chlorine bleach in a gallon of warm water. If you want to make a stronger solution, add 1/4 or 1/3 cup of powdered, laundry detergent (without ammonia). Mix well.

Pour onto your deck, letting the solution sit for 10 to 20 minutes. Now it’s time to get to work. Break out the elbow grease and start scrubbing your deck. Pay attention to spots where discoloration, mold, moss and mildew have done their damage. You can get down on your hands and knees and use a hand brush if you like. Obviously, you are talking about a more intensive cleaning process if this is the way you choose to go.

You can also get a long-handled scrub brush that will minimize the amount of strain you put on your back.

Break out the garden hose when you’re done. Attach a spray nozzle and spray your deck clean. Make sure you get everywhere. You don’t want any of that cleaning solution to collect on your deck. You can also use a pressure washer, but keep the pressure on a low setting. If you go this route, make sure you use a fanning spray nozzle. A low setting with this type of nozzle keeps you from damaging your wood.

Even if you don’t see any mildew or mold, you should scrub your deck at least once a year.

Deck Maintenance Option: Sanding Your Deck

You should sand and stain every 2 to 3 years with a wooden deck. Wood gives into the effects of Mother Nature and Father Time rather quickly if you don’t stain and seal it regularly. Moisture, sunlight, other weather elements and foot traffic can really do a number on a wooden deck.

Before you stain your deck it can be good to sand it.

The bigger the deck, the bigger the project. If you want to sand your deck right after you have scrubbed it clean using the above steps, let your deck dry for at least 48 hours. It’s best to handle this cleaning process when you know you’re going to have a couple of sunny days back to back.

Now it’s time to break out the orbital sander. You may have a belt sander, and if you do, that can work as well. There are sanding pads which come with a long broom handle attachment, but they won’t do as good a job as an orbital or belt sander. If you don’t own an orbital sander, you can pick one up for around $75.

The next step is simple. Start sanding. This is a physically demanding job. As tough as it may be, don’t skip this step. The better your sanding job, the better your wood will absorb the stain you’re going to apply, and the longer your deck will last.

Staining or Painting – Which Is Better?

You are probably going to want to stain your deck rather than paint it. Some homeowners want to paint their deck a certain color. They sometimes do this to match the color of their home.

The problem with paint is that it really just sits on your wood. It isn’t absorbed deep into the wood like stain. Much of your deck is horizontal, especially the floor. These horizontal areas can collect water when it rains. This water sits on top of your paint and eventually seeps into your wood. This happens not only if you paint your deck, but also if you use a solid color stain without a sealer.

Over time this collection of water getting heated and drying in the sun can cause boards to expand and contract. Paint begins to chip and peel. Sometimes the paint will conceal wood that is rotting from the inside. The best way to go every time with a wood deck is to use a quality stain/sealer. This process gets the stain down into your wood while also letting moisture escape. The sealer does just that, it seals your wood and makes it less likely to absorb moisture in the first place.

Choose a stain with a heavier tint and you will repel moisture and sunlight even more.

What type of stain is best for wood decks? You can go with an opaque, solid stain/sealer if you like. They hide the grain of the wood, so with a beautiful wood grain like you find in cedar or redwood, you probably want to avoid a solid stain. On the downside, solid stains can build up several coats like paint does. They can also peel, crack and chip like paint.

Semi-transparent stains will color your wood grain. They don’t hide it entirely. A semi-transparent stain works great on red cedar to let that wood show off its natural beauty. You could choose a clear sealer. If you do, it’s recommended to seal your deck every year or two. Make this choice if you have a really gorgeous wood grain you don’t want to cover up.

Going with an oil-based, water-repellent stain/sealer is a good idea. They are long-lasting and soak deeply into wood. You also get an even, consistent look.

There are hundreds of different deck stains. Add the multiple color choices and you have thousands of possibilities. Every stain can affect different wood species differently. There are times when a water-based stain makes sense. Are you having a problem deciding which theme to use?

A good idea here is to talk to your deck builder. Let him know you’re going to stain your deck and ask him what he recommends.

How Do You Stain a Deck?

The first thing you need to do is pick the day you’re going to do the job. Staining decks works best when the temperature is between 60 and 90 degrees. It’s also a good idea to avoid direct sunlight if possible. This means you can stain your deck in the morning before the sun has its greatest impact.

deck staining

Use painters’ tape to protect any non-deck material such as siding on your home. Now it’s time to get to work.

You may be tempted to use a roller to apply your paint. This makes the job go fast. However, when you apply your stain/sealer with a natural bristle brush by hand, it gets deeper into the wood and you have an even coating. This is especially true where you have any decking boards meeting.

You can use a pump-style garden sprayer to apply the stain. Like using a paint roller, this doesn’t get the sealer down into your wood as effectively as with a natural bristle brush. Dispose of stains and solvents properly. Don’t throw them out with your regular trash or wash down the drain. Any brushes, pads or rags should be submerged in water in a metal can. The can should be sealed and disposed of with any leftover stain.

The Low-Maintenance (and Money Saving) Beauty of Composite Decking Materials

As we mentioned earlier, a sander can cost $75. Of course, you have to buy the sandpaper as well. Stains and sealers can go for as little as $20 per gallon or more than $100 per gallon. You have to buy brushes or rollers to apply the stain. You’re probably going to need some painters tape, drop cloths and rags as well.

The cost of course depends on the size of your deck, the stain you use, where you are located and other factors. Remember, you’re going to need to do this every 2 to 3 years with a wooden deck.

Build a composite deck and you never have to worry about sanding, staining, backbreaking elbow grease and your deck boards rotting, warping or splitting.

Composite materials combine wood and plastic. They come in a wide variety of grain configurations and colors. They can last more than 20 or 25 years with no staining, sealing, or painting. There’s a very low level of maintenance involved. You don’t need to buy sanders and paintbrushes and stains.

You just sweep or brush off your deck regularly and spray it with a garden hose from time to time. That’s it. Honestly, that’s all that’s involved with maintaining a composite deck.

Once a year you may want to scrub or lightly pressure wash it with some warm soapy water. These materials are more expensive than wood, but the time, effort and money spent on maintenance is virtually nothing in comparison.

Let’s compare apples to apples.

Fiberon is a manufacturer of composite decking materials. Their research shows you have to invest between 16 and 32 hours of maintenance on a wooden deck each year.

On a composite deck that time investment is just 2 to 4 hours per year! With a wooden deck you’re talking about some very intense and physically demanding maintenance. If you can sweep a broom and spray a garden hose, that’s all you need to do to properly maintain a composite deck.

Composite Deck Maintenance Cost Less over Time

Maintaining a redwood, cedar or pressure-treated deck costs more than $5,000 over 10 years. That number is only about $500 for the average sized composite deck. Then you have to talk about deck replacement. A wooden deck needs to be replaced every 10 to 15 years. Sometimes boards, spindles and rails need to be replaced. Composite decks can last more than 25 years. Keep this in mind when deciding on whether to go with a wood or composite decking material.

Stain Can Be a Pain – Let Us Handle the Job for You

You work hard. You want to come home and relax on your deck, and not spend your time off cleaning, maintaining and working on it. Let us do that for you. We offer a deck staining service. We will clean your deck, prep it, sand it, apply a quality stain/sealer, and clean everything up when we’re done.

No getting down on your hands and knees sanding your deck. No backbreaking bending over and contorting your body in all kinds of positions to reach every part of your deck. We do this for a living. We know exactly how to properly prep and stain your deck for the best possible results. Give us a call and ask about our deck staining service.

You’ll feel a lot better about your deck when you don’t resent it every 2 to 3 years because you have to have it stained. We will be happy to answer any questions you might have about this and any other deck building or maintenance topics.

deck accessories like benches

Deck Accessories: Add Some Character


Deck accessories make a lot of sense for a number of reasons. You built your outdoor deck so you can enjoy the Dallas weather. Although there are plenty of hot and humid summer days in the area, there are also a fair share of days and nights where the weather is just perfect for a get-together in your backyard.

Maybe you’re thinking about building a deck that attaches to the front of your home. Wherever it is located, and whether it’s attached to your home or not, a deck can provide multiple entertainment opportunities and give you lots of great memories.

Unfortunately, a lot of homeowners build their decks without thinking about all of the possibilities. They have always wanted a standard deck and they decide to build one.

This is a shame, because simply adding some porch railing, stairs, drink rails or a gazebo can turn a simple, “good enough” deck into a versatile, “great” outdoor entertainment center. Here are a few accessories you definitely want to consider if you’re going to have a deck built. They can be a part of your initial construction, or you can add them months or even years after your deck was built. They add character and entertainment opportunities that a simple deck can’t deliver.

Deck Accessories: Deck and Patio Covers

Imagine this scenario. You have always wanted an outdoor deck. You contact a local deck contractor that has great reviews and lots of happy customers. The two of you sit down and plan a traditional, flat deck in your backyard.

deck accessories: deck covers

You are given an estimate and a timeline, everything works out perfectly, and you are now the owner of a brand-new, backyard deck. After your first Dallas summer, you realize something. As much as you love your beautiful deck, you didn’t take into account that it doesn’t have any tree cover or other protection against the blazing, Dallas sun. You don’t want to put a solid roof over your deck, so what can you do?

The answer is simple.

Call your deck builder and ask about a deck cover. These are wooden grids or parallel beams that allow in some sunshine, but not all of it. They give your deck a dappled look and provide some escape from much of the direct sunlight your deck is getting.

They are supported by multiple beams but not solid walls. This means you don’t block out that nice of wind that rolls over your deck every evening. It also makes for easy access and keeps the cost of construction down. Additionally, some Dallas homeowners let bougainvillea, wisteria or trumpet vine flowering vines creep up and over their deck covers for a wonderful addition of natural, visual and aromatic beauty.

You can do this with a simple concrete pad too.

Some homes in the Dallas area have a slab of concrete accessible from the back door to the home. Instead of the expensive addition of a full roof that attaches to your home, why not have a patio cover built? These open-air, wooden beam covers can be accentuated with lights, fans, heaters and even televisions so you can watch the Dallas Texas win their first World Series title.

Deck and patio covers are smart and cost-efficient ways to turn a traditional concrete pad or standard deck into something special, while still allowing for airflow and some exposure to the sunlight.

Add Lattice and a Trellis

We mentioned that you can use vertical deck posts and a deck cover as a support for climbing vines and flowers. Why not do the same with a trellis? You can build trellises over your deck or use them to line and cover garden paths. They support fruit trees or any type of climbing plants. As far as cost goes, simple trellises are very budget-friendly. They don’t take long to install, either.

That means a minimal installation cost for adding deck accessories.

A trellis is latticework which is used to support plants or climbing vines. There are plenty of opportunities for lattice to add some character to your deck, even if you don’t plan on allowing mother nature to crawl all over it.

Latticework can be used as a cost-efficient deck or patio cover. Have your deck builder run a few stout beams to support the lattice. The latticework is then easily stapled to form the deck cover we just talked about. Whether used as a trellis to show off your gardening skills or simply to add some visual character to your deck, latticework does the job without busting your budget.

Pergolas and Gazebos

The origin of the word pergola can be traced back to ancient times. Pergola means “projecting roof” in Latin. In the mid-17th century that word became spelled as today’s “pergola” in Italy. This Old House calls a pergola the “perfect complement to any garden or deck.”

So, what exactly is a pergola? It can be vertical posts that support cross beams, much like the patio cover we talked about earlier. In many cases it is an archway built with a wooden framework. Once again, this is often used as a way to add climbing vines and flowers to your outdoor experience.

Pergolas come in all shapes and sizes. You can have them attached to your deck or they can be standalone features. A pergola creates a shaded walkway or sitting area. Whereas pergolas are usually used for walkways and sometimes attached to a deck, gazebos are standalone features.

The typical gazebo is shaped as a hexagon (6 sides) or octagon (8 sides). Gazebos have solid roofs, latticework or deck railings, and some have built-in seating areas. You can add mosquito netting or screening for a sense of privacy and protection from hungry Dallas mosquitoes and other insects. Large gazebos are at home in public parks and a smaller version can really accentuate your deck.

Gazebos are sometimes round or often shaped as hexagons or octagons, while pergolas are usually rectangular or square in shape.

Deck Benches and Seating

One of the reasons you are building your deck is to relax after the end of a long day. That means you had better have some seating. Deck benches provide comfortable seating areas and can be handled a lot of different ways.

Many homeowners will have their deck builders attach benches to the decks themselves. You can alternately have portable benches built. Consider hinging the top of your deck bench and using the interior space for storage.

You can use the natural wood as a seating surface or pick up some outdoor cushions from your local big box store. You might want to build deck bench seating with an enclosed wooden bottom for a more finished look. You can also have your builder construct them with an open bottom so your ankles aren’t kicking the bench supports. However you decide you want your benches built, a quality deck builder can deliver on that vision.


We keep talking about adding mother nature to your deck. One of the reasons you built your deck is to get outside. You want to spend more time in the great outdoors. One way to add more nature to your deck is to have your builder add flower planters. You can build square or rectangle planters that are placed at different areas on your deck.

These can also be standalone accessories which are not built into your deck. One popular approach to deck planters is to make them in long vertical stretches that run the length of your deck.

Not everyone has a deck cover, trellis or pergola to accentuate their deck. This means they have to come up with another way to add their favorite plants and flowers to their deck experience. That is exactly what planters do. Your builder can fashion them out of the same wood or composite material your deck is made of. This ensures they complement your deck instead of sticking out like a sore thumb.

Steps and Stairs

Stairs might not be an immediate deck accessory you think of. You are probably thinking that you either will or won’t need stairs. We mention this accessory as a way to get you thinking about your deck construction.

deck accessories: deck stairs

Instead of just opting for a flat deck that’s built on a concrete pad or low to the ground, why not make a multi-level or raised deck? Obviously, decks with multiple levels need stairs.

The most sturdy, long-lasting and safe stairs or deck steps are always going to be those attached to your deck and built by your deck builder. He installs them during initial construction. They are made specifically to accentuate your deck and be a physical part of the creation. Before you decide on a single-level, standard deck, talk to your builder about the possibility of multi-level or a raised deck.

You may find that adding some simple stairs or a wide and detailed stair system will add a lot of “curb appeal” to your outdoor experience.

Deck Railing

When you think of deck rails you probably think of square, vertical posts topped off with a horizontal arm rail. That is the traditional deck railing system you’ll find in Dallas. It adds safety and some visual character to your deck, and is an absolute must-have on a raised deck. In fact, it’s one of the most common deck accessories.

If you’re thinking that the standard deck rail setup is rather boring and “blah”, there’s something you need to know. Your deck builder has access to a number of detailed shapes and patterns that can be incorporated into your railing system. The starburst is a popular deck rail feature that looks like the top of the sun emerging on the horizon.

Other types of deck rail designs include balusters or spindles with detailed carvings. You also have a choice when selecting a handrail. Most people opt for at least a 4 or 6 inch wide top handrail. This makes a perfect place for you to rest your arms and a refreshing beverage.

Deck Accessories: Drink Rails

Speaking of refreshing beverages, why not add some drink rails to your deck? You can easily become the envy of your fellow deck owners by adding this top-notch feature. Your deck builder can cut circular holes in your deck handrails and attach plastic beverage holders. This keeps your drink from spilling if you accidentally nudge it, unlike a typical flat handrail.

You may alternately have your builder create a custom drink holding system that runs around the table-top of your deck.

Eating, Drinking, Table-Top Feature

A lot of cookouts begin on decks. You have that wonderful grill and you love showing off your backyard barbecue skills. If this is the plan for you, make sure your builder creates table-top eating surfaces. Then all you have to do is pull up some bar seating and you have a place for you and your friends to enjoy some cold drinks or to eat the amazing food you crank out on your grill.

Deck Accessories: A Quick Wrap-Up

Having somewhere to sit and enjoy a great meal turns your deck into a secondary eating area. Installing drink rails shows your family and friends you are a top-notch outdoor entertainer. Planters, pergolas and trellises let you add mother nature’s beauty and aromatic fragrance to your decking experience.

Move away from your deck and you can use trellises and pergola on your walkways and garden paths. They can lead to a beautiful gazebo or the garden that you’re so proud of. Stairs and railings add safety and functionality to your deck, and are an absolute necessity if you have a multi-level or raised deck. Finally, consider a deck cover as a complement to a flat deck. It allows just the right mixture of sunlight, shadows, and air to accentuate your outdoor experience.

If you’d like to know more about deck accessories, reach out to us.

Deck Backyard Redwood

Redwood Decking: A Beautiful Decking Material


The redwood tree is one of the longest living trees. How long can redwood trees live? There are trees living right now that got their start 2,000 years ago. Of course, these are not the trees which are farmed to make beautiful redwood decking material. We mention how long these trees can live for a simple reason: this speaks to the durability of this beautiful, natural wood.

Redwood Decking A Beautiful Option

The beauty of this wood can’t be overstated. Redwood has found its way into many homes and backyard decks because of its rich, deep red tones and colors. It is also used to make furniture and siding. As a decking material it is at home in Dallas and is a popular choice with many homeowners.

Let’s take a closer look.

Pests and Moisture Hate Redwood

Did you know that the redwood tree naturally produces compounds that keep pests away? The smell and taste of the pest-hating chemicals means these trees are highly resistant to insect damage. As a matter of fact, the redwood is one of the most bug-resistant of all the softwoods.
You also benefit from a natural resistance to moisture and decay. This makes this decking material a great choice for Dallas and the surrounding area. Bugs and moisture simply don’t have the negative effect on redwood that they do on some other natural woods.

Redwood Looks Natural and Beautiful

For its classic, real-wood beauty, redwood can’t be beat. The grain is straight and long due to the fact that these trees can grow so massive in size. For a lot of homeowners looking for a consistent appearance, the grain of redwood is much more attractive than cedar, pressure-treated pine and other woods for that reason.

And by the way, this is real wood, not a wood/plastic composite mix. It smells like nature and looks and feels like wood. Its vibrant red colors are often dark and deep, but there are lighter shades and tones as well. You would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful, natural wood.

Redwood Naturally Takes to Stain

You can use a clear sealant on redwood to capture its natural beauty. You can also choose to accent the rich, ruddy tones of this wood with stain.

Redwood Decking Durability is Excellent

Redwood is basically weather-resistant. It has a natural ability to not only deter pests like bugs and termites which we mentioned earlier, but it also interacts with water better than most other types of wood.

Redwood can hold water for long periods of time without shrinking, warping or bowing. If you have lived in the Dallas area for any amount of time, you know this is important. Even in the wet, humid Texas summers, redwood decks can last 15 years or more with regular maintenance.

If you choose the more durable heartwood variety of redwood, you can fully expect 25 years of wonderful memories on your redwood deck.

Redwood Repels Heat Better than Most Other Decking Types

The structural density of redwood means it does not absorb heat like some other woods and composite decking materials. This means a better experience for your bare feet. It also means not burning the skin on your hands, legs and arms when it comes into contact with your deck seating and railing which has been sitting out in the Texas sun.

Redwood Maintenance Costs Less Over Time

You won’t spend as much time and money maintaining your redwood deck as if you build another natural wood deck. Your initial building cost will usually be greater than other natural woods and about the same as composite materials. On the plus side, the amount of time you spend on maintenance and the money that maintenance will cost is a lot less during the life of your deck than with pressure-treated lumber, cedar, and some other woods.

Want to learn even more about redwood decking? Check out our Definitive Guide to Redwood Decking.

deck accessories like benches

Decking: Pressure-Treated Pine vs. Composite

Pressure-Treated Pine Decking around Swimming Pool

There’s no denying pressure-treated pine is a popular decking material. It feels good under your feet, it’s a natural wood material, and it’s easy to install. Its low cost when compared to alternatives like composites is attractive to a lot of homeowners. For these reasons some people choose pressure-treated pine versus composite decking materials.

Then there’s the flipside of the coin. There are plenty of reasons to build a composite deck. PT lumber needs to be stained and sealed. You need to stain it again every 2 to 3 years. There is a good deal of annual maintenance that is not needed with composite decking materials. A composite deck can last 20 or more years, twice as long or longer than a pressure-treated deck.

Finally, composite decks hold their appearance over time. You can expect some discoloration or fading with a pressure-treated deck, especially if you fall behind on maintenance.

So, should you choose composite decking materials or pressure-treated lumber? Let’s take a deeper dive and see which makes sense for you.

What You Need to Know about Pressure-Treated Pine

The number one draw for pressure-treated pine as a decking material is low-cost. Pine trees are plentiful in North America. The largest lumber companies that harvest southern yellow pine can do so at a lower cost than woods like cedar and certainly redwood.

Pine is strong but also easy to work with. It’s not the strongest wood or the hardest by any means, but it is more than sufficient to make for a great decking material.

There is also the fact that this is real wood. It looks like wood because it is! You get a natural wood grain and feel. Build a pressure-treated deck and you are adding a slice of mother nature to your backyard.

Because this wood has to be stained and sealed, you can choose whatever color matches your home. There are literally hundreds of stain colors to choose from at your local big box store. This is another benefit of choosing pressure-treated pine over composite decking materials.

Composites definitely come in a wide variety of colors and shades. However, you may be limited to just two or three dozen choices. Head to your local big box store and ask to see the selection of stain colors for pressure-treated pine. You will see that you can choose from several hundred instead of a few dozen.

Long-Term Cost Vs. Upfront Cost

Sometimes homeowners don’t think about the long-term cost of maintaining a pressure-treated deck. After several years you may be needing to replace balusters, deck boards and other components. Even if this is not the case, there’s the cost of staining your deck every two or three years. If you don’t, then it can give into the tough Dallas weather over time.

There’s no denying your upfront cost of building a pressure-treated deck is a lot less than if you choose composite materials. Even so, a pressure-treated deck can cost more money in maintenance per year plus initial cost in its lifetime than a composite deck. If your budget doesn’t allow for the greater upfront cost of composite, then pressure-treated pine is the way to go. Remember that you will have to budget more money annually over the lifetime of a PT deck than when you maintain a composite deck.

To Clean or Not to Clean?

You should scrub your pressure-treated deck at least two or three times a year. Yes, I said scrub. This means either getting down on your hands and knees with a hand brush or using a long-handled scrub brush. You can use a retail store deck cleansing solution or just some warm, soapy water.

If you don’t like the idea of spending your free time cleaning your deck, keep this in mind. Some homeowners understand regular maintenance is a part of keeping up their home value. They don’t mind committing to the regular maintenance a pressure-treated deck requires.

How Long Can You Expect a Pressure-Treated Deck to Last?

Your PT deck should give you 8 to 12 years of functional use. This number varies according to a lot of factors, the most important factor being maintenance. I know it sounds like we are beating a dead horse here, but you have to commit to regular maintenance with a pressure-treated deck.

If not, it simply is not going to withstand what can be a difficult weather environment here in Dallas. That having been said, if you are a stickler about cleaning and maintenance as well as staining every 2 to 3 years, you could get as many as 14 or 15 years out of a pressure-treated deck.

However, any natural wood (even pressure-treated pine) can rot, splinter and warp. Staining and sealing your deck regularly can delay this natural damage but it will eventually occur. This can lead to replacement costs after your deck is several years old.

Screw Heads or No Screw Heads?

Have you ever seen a pressure-treated deck? You no doubt noticed the hundreds or thousands of screw heads. Pressure-treated lumber is so easy to work with that it just requires inexpensive screws to fasten it together. This keeps the cost down. It also means you can have a quality deck built in a few days possibly even in one day.

If you would like a pressure-treated deck with a hidden fastening system, that is sometimes possible. There are fastening systems which have been made to work with pressure-treated pine and other natural woods. However, this drives up the cost of your deck. It puts you in kind of a catch-22 situation.

If you are choosing pressure-treated pine as your decking material, you might be doing so because the low cost is so attractive. Then if you start talking about a hidden fastening system, that cost goes up. Some people don’t care that screw heads are visible throughout a pressure-treated pine deck.

A quality contractor will make sure the heads are sunk below the level of your wood and don’t cause any injury risks. However, some homeowners want a smooth and polished look. You can get that with composite decking materials. If the presence of a few screw heads doesn’t make a difference to you one way or another, this is a non-issue. If you want a clean and smooth appearance without the presence of screw heads or any other fastening system, consider composite decking materials.

The Pros and Cons of Composite Decking Materials

Cost is always a factor when a homeowner thinks about some home improvement project. It is the rare homeowner who has deep enough pockets not to be worried about how much something will cost. One of your major considerations when building a deck has to do with money.

There are upfront costs and ongoing maintenance and replacement costs. As you’ve noticed in this report, these costs can vary greatly depending on the type of decking material you choose.

Comparing Maintenance Costs

A veteran deck builder with a lot of decks under his belt can tell you the real cost of any type of decking material. In the case of pressure-treated pine vs. composite decking, there is a vast difference in maintenance and upkeep costs.

A large pressure-treated deck will set you back about $5,000 over 10 to 12 years. That’s how much you’re going to have to spend to buy sandpaper, stain and sealers, paintbrushes, scrub brushes, tarps and other necessary items and accessories. This includes having to replace physical components like decking boards and rails that have rotted, split, warp or cracked.
Your maintenance cost for the very same sized composite deck is only going to be about $500. That is a huge difference. You never have to worry about replacing spindles, boards and rails on a composite deck. This is a very real consideration as a replacement cost on a pressure-treated pine deck.

What Does Maintenance Look like with a Composite Deck?

The Fiberon composite decking company says it takes anywhere from 16 to 32 hours of maintenance on a wooden deck to keep it looking good every year. Compare that to just 2 to 4 hours per year with a composite deck.

The intensity of that annual maintenance is important to note as well. You can clean off a composite deck with a leaf blower or broom, or spray it off with a garden hose. At least two or three times a year a pressure-treated deck will require some scrubbing and elbow grease.

The construction of composite decking materials keeps them looking brand-new for 20 or 25 or more years. You have to do virtually nothing at all as far as maintenance goes. You should always remove wet leaves or natural debris from your deck as soon as it accumulates.

Aside from that, and spraying off your deck or sweeping it off, composite materials don’t really require you to do very much at all for them to look beautiful and last a long time.

Composite Decking Materials Look Great… No Screw Heads Either

Composite decking has come a long way. It used to be that the earliest composite decking boards didn’t look like wood. That is no longer the case. You can choose from dozens of colors and grain configurations that look like mother nature. The upside is that they don’t wear like mother nature. They are virtually maintenance free and can last 20 or 25 years or longer. There is also the fact that composite decking holds its appearance over time. It won’t fade or discolor like natural woods can.

Composite Decking for Roof Deck

Are you looking for a consistent appearance? No two natural wood boards look alike, either in color or grain pattern. You can get a pleasing and consistent look with composite decking materials. The grain configurations and colors of the boards are the same from one board to the next.

By the way, you don’t have to worry about staring at screw heads. There are hidden fastening systems made for composite decking materials so you get a clean and smooth, fastener-free appearance. This also means you won’t have any screw heads working their way above the surface of the wood and causing a safety risk like you can have happen with a pressure-treated pine deck.

Pressure-Treated Pine vs. Composite Decking Materials – The Wrap-Up

Are you building a deck on a tight budget? Pressure-treated pine might be the way you need to go. It definitely costs a lot less upfront than if you were to build a deck with composite materials. Just remember that it’s easy to promise you are going to do all the maintenance that is required to keep a PT deck looking good.

It might be a different story when those maintenance tasks roll around.

That’s the beauty of a composite deck. You don’t really have to do anything other than brush it off and hose it down every now and then. Composite materials keep their appearance for 20 or more years. A pressure-treated deck can look great for its 10 to 12 year lifetime, it just requires a little more elbow grease than a composite deck does.

You are definitely going to have to pay more to build a deck with composite materials on the front end. However, maintenance and replacement costs are next to nothing every year when compared to what you have to do to keep a pressure-treated deck functional and good looking. There are a lot of benefits to either choice.

Whether you choose composite decking materials or pressure-treated lumber, you get to create great memories with your friends and family. You get out of the house and into the beautiful weather Dallas has to offer. Either type of deck provides you with a refuge after a long, hard work week or at the end of the day.

Give us a call and get your questions answered. We will give you unbiased information regarding pressure-treated lumber and composite decking materials. As we just discussed, there are pros and cons of both types of decks. Set up a time when we can come to your home and give you a free estimate. We’ll take a look at your particular situation and have a conversation about what you expect from your deck. That can help you decide what material you’re going to choose and we can get started building the outdoor deck of your dreams.

Trex vs Pressure-Treated Pine Decking Comparison Guide

Using Trex vs pressure-treated pine decking material means making several considerations. How much do you want to spend? Are you building a pool deck or a balcony deck? Maybe you would like a small patio deck or a large deck for your business. No matter what you are building your deck for, there are a few obvious (and not so obvious) considerations you need to make regarding functionality, longevity and other important factors.

If you use Trex as opposed to pressure-treated pine to build your deck, how long will it last? Is the extra cost involved in your up-front Trex investment worth it, or should you spend less initially for a pressure-treated pine deck? Which deck material requires more maintenance and money over time? Is one type of material better for the environment, and what do you need to know about fire rating and weather-resistance?

While the hard facts and statistics about building a deck are certainly important, there is an emotions-based question you need to ask yourself first, and that is …

… What Do You Want Your Deck to Do?

Whether you want a patio deck, pool surround or balcony deck, you have certain expectations. Some folks build a backyard deck to entertain. They need their deck to provide reliable functionality that will allow them to host parties and create wonderful memories for years or decades. What you want from a pool deck is excellent water-resistance and a deck that won’t get too hot for your friends and family entering and exiting the pool.

If you are making a deck to showcase your skills as a backyard barbecue expert, you need quick and easy clean-up and stain-resistance. All these considerations mean you should know exactly what you want your deck to do. How will you be using your deck? For instance, pressure-treated decking can be used for a pool or hot tub surround, while Trex works fine in both of those applications also. Comparing a Trex vs pressure-treated pine deck begins with knowing what type of experience you are trying to create. Then you can begin an initial and long-term cost comparison.

Trex vs Pressure-Treated Pine Cost, Now and Down the Road

Trex Deck

Trex Deck

Trex is the name of a composite deck material. It is also the name of the manufacturer that makes this combination of wood fibers and recycled plastic. A Trex deck will run about $26 to $36 per square foot to build, and that includes labor and materials. Pressure-treated decking will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $14 to $20 per square foot installed. As you can see, this makes treated lumber a rather attractive financial choice over Trex.

Your home was not a “one and done” purchase, and your deck isn’t either. You have to set aside money for ongoing maintenance and upkeep or your home will suffer from neglect. The same is true with your deck. Since the materials are very different, comparing Trex vs pressure-treated pine will show significant cost differences for annual and long-term maintenance.

A Trex deck can last longer than a pressure-treated deck but will require annual cleaning. A pressure treated pine deck will also require cleaning and also a good weather sealant every 1-5 years depending on the brand of stain / weather sealant used. This means the composite construction of Trex allows for much less maintenance and upkeep than treated lumber. You can expect to spend more time, elbow grease and money taking care of your pressure-treated pine deck.

Trex does not require staining or painting. Once your Trex decking gets acclimated to your environment, the resulting color will stay the same without any painting, finishing or staining.

Pressure Treated Pine (aka PTP) lumber has a much lower up-front installation cost than Trex, but will require more effort and money to maintain over time.

Trex vs Pressure-Treated Pine Durability – How Long do You Want Your Deck to Last?

Some homeowners will build a basic pressure-treated deck before they list their home for sale. The low cost addition gives the home a higher perceived value than without the deck. If you are climbing the corporate ladder and don’t expect to be in your current home for more than a few years, a pressure-treated pine deck might make the most financial sense.

A PTP deck can look great with regular maintenance and upkeep for a several years, while costing less to build than a Trex deck. Treated decks are perfect for DIY homeowners that like spending their free time on home improvement projects. Why pay more for a Trex deck if you look forward to staining or sealing your deck every year or five and cleaning it frequently?

On the other hand, the durable Trex decking products carry 25 year warranties. In many cases these decks last more than 25 or 30 years. You can expect 10 to 25 years good use from a pressure-treated deck, depending on how regularly you maintain the deck and what your local climate and environment is like. The entire Trex vs pressure-treated pine deck cost comparison can be broken down for you by consulting an experienced deck builder. Call a deck builder with decades of experience making beautiful, durable decks in your area for a free, in-depth construction and maintenance cost breakdown.

Pressure-Treated Deck vs Trex Decking – Insect, Fire and Weather Resistance

The functionality and wonderful memories you get from your deck will depend largely on durability. You want decking material that is going to be unattractive to hungry bugs. Knowing the deck you build will effectively resist the effects of sun, rain and other aspects of weather is also important. You certainly don’t want a fire hazard on your hand. Both types have a man made resistance to bugs.

When a deck is built at ground level it would be best to use (ground contact) PTP but for longevity of either, then air flow (air space underneath deck) is recommended to keep them aired out and dry. Just as important is to have proper drainage underneath, meaning no standing water.

Consider the Fire Rating

Trex decking material carries a Class C fire rating. This is the minimal fire rating suggested by independent consumer safety organization Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for use in building products in and around the home. This is also known as a Class III fire-resistance rating. Many of the materials used to build your home carry this exact same fire rating.

Pressure-treated pine contains chemicals and preservatives which protect your deck against rot and decay. This pressurized treatment also resists fungi, termites and other wood-chomping bugs. Pressure-treated southern yellow pine also carries a class C fire rating. But you can spend more for Dricon FRT wood or there are a number of types of fire retardant that can be applied to slow fire spread rating.

Will Your Deck Resist Hungry Bugs?

As we just mentioned, pressure treated southern yellow pine (PTP) has a chemical used in the pressurization process that it is resistant to termites and other bugs or insects that bore into wood. Trex decking materials also carry an insect resistant label, and their combination of recycled plastic materials and wood fibers make them unappealing to the crawly creatures that eat wood.

If you choose pressure-treated pine or Trex decking materials, both will resist insect infestation and rot. However, there is a point that needs to be made here. You will need to diligently seal your pressure-treated deck every years in order to help the wood retain insect resistance. This maintenance factor is not needed with Trex decking products.

Are Pressure-Treated Pine and Trex Decking Weather-Resistant?

A Trex deck is resistant to fading. We mentioned earlier that your Trex deck requires no ongoing staining, painting or finishing to hold its color. If you are in an extremely sunny and hot environment, you may notice gradual fading after 10 or 15 years with Trex materials. In many cases there is no significant change in coloration over the lifetime of the deck.The exterior coating (capped) of Trex decking materials repels water.

Pressure-treated pine will definitely fade over time. You can delay this affect with a regular coat of weather sealant / stain that also repels water. Concerning weather conditions such as rain or snow, Trex is going to hold up better over time than pressure-treated decking materials. In the short-term, your deck will look great and function properly during normal exposure to weather whichever of these two decking materials you choose to use.

Looks Aren’t Everything … Oh Yes They Are!

It is probably safe to make the assumption that you want your deck to look good. No one wants to build an addition onto their house or in their backyard that looks trashy or downright ugly. When deciding on Trex vs pressure-treated pine as a deck building material, how your deck looks is not going to vary much for the first couple of years.

The difference happens down the line. The process which combines recycled plastics and wood fibers into the composite decking material (Trex) is a more costly procedure than simply pressure treating southern yellow pine. The process makes for a sturdy and long-lasting deck material that may not lose its color for 15 or 20 years.

The same is not true for pressure-treated wood. The appearance of PT pine deck materials will reflect how diligently you stain and seal your deck. If you don’t spend time on maintenance and upkeep with a pressure-treated pine deck, it is going to reflect that negligence. The benefit of a Trex deck is that once you choose a color and build your deck, you are going to get the same look and appearance for years and years without staining or sealing.

This isn’t to say that pressure-treated decks can’t be beautiful. Some people choose a natural wood over composite decking material because the beauty of nature really comes out when that wood is stained and sealed. It requires more upkeep and elbow grease to keep a pressure-treated deck looking good than it does with a Trex deck, but many homeowners don’t mind the extra annual maintenance.

This means your financial cost for the periodic maintenance of your pressure-treated deck will be greater than with a Trex deck, but your upfront building cost is much more attractive. You shouldn’t forget that a Trex deck will change slightly in its color and shade the first 2 to 3 months after installation. This happens because the decking material has to get used to your environment, but the change is gradual in nature. After that, the color shouldn’t fade for several years, and even then only gradually.

Trex vs Pressure-Treated Pine Safety Considerations

The safety of your deck comes down to a number of factors. If people are acting irresponsible and running on a wet pool deck, they may fall and become injured. This is in most cases not the fault of the decking material, but rather the person who was injured. Pressure-treated yellow pine and Trex are rot and decay resistant for a number of years. This means the likelihood of someone stepping through your rotted deck floor or falling because a railing gave way is not likely to happen.

The yellow pine which is used for many pressure-treated decks has a natural texture which makes it resistant to slipping. You can choose Trex products with textured finishes that make them highly resistant to slipping as well. As far as all-around safety goes, a Trex deck is a much more hands-off maintenance choice than pressure-treated decking. With either choice, you are responsible for sweeping and cleaning your deck and keeping it free of debris which could act as safety hazards.

For general safety concerns, you will be happy with pressure-treated wood or Trex decking materials.

Pressure-Treated vs Trex Decking – Which is Better for the Environment?

Trex decking materials are made up of 95% sawdust, recycled wood fibers and plastic materials. This keeps waste products out of landfills. It should also be noted that the Trex company has formed a partnership with the US Forest Stewardship Council. This guarantees your Trex deck was built with no materials that came from an endangered rain forest.

Caring for a PTP deck requires staining and/or painting every year or two. This means it is up to you to handle, store and dispose of these chemicals correctly so you don’t negatively impact the environment. Trex does not require a weather sealant or staining.

Comparing Trex vs pressure-treated pine reveals that a PTP deck that can last as long as a Trex deck but this can also mean that more yellow pine trees must be grown and harvested for you to replace individual decking materials like balusters and deck boards, or if you want to replace your entire deck. Most pressure-treated lumber is EPA approved, and both Trex and pressure-treated deck materials are environmentally friendly when disposed of properly.

To get a more accurate comparison of both for your application contact a seasoned pro for a no obligation quote.

Ipe deck poolside, stained.

Ipe vs Trex Decking Comparison Guide


So you are considering a new deck but not sure if you should go with ipe or Trex? In this article we will point out the qualities and differences so that it can help with your decision. When comparing ipe against Trex decking, cost may be the first thing that comes to mind. Even if you have a large budget you don’t want to overpay for your deck. Good looks is certainly a consideration, and durability comes into question as well. Of course, you should understand maintenance responsibilities and costs for your deck project, and remember that cost is not just an upfront issue. There may be financial costs attached to long-term maintenance.

While you certainly want to consider all of these factors, there is a big question you should answer first before you weigh the pros and cons of ipe (pronounced EE-pay) and Trex decks. Regardless of your budget, the size of the deck you are looking for and any other aspect of this project, you need to ask yourself the following question.

How Will You Be Using Your Deck?

Are you looking to build a pool deck? Choosing the right type of decking material can help you provide a slip-free surface that keeps your swimming friends and family members safe. Bare feet are synonymous with a swimming pool experience, so you want to select a type of wood or composite that doesn’t get too hot in the blazing sun.

Perhaps you are building a deck as a retreat. You want a place you can go to get away from the hustle and bustle of your busy life. Maybe you enjoy entertaining. You love playing the host, and you want to design a decking area where you can create great memories with your loved ones. Of course, if you fancy yourself a 5-star outdoor chef, you can use your deck to display your backyard grilling skills.

Think long and hard about what experience you want your deck to provide for you. Once you know the physical and emotional needs you expect your outdoor deck to give you, you can move on to other ipe versus Trex considerations.

For instance, Trex can get hotter to the touch than ipe, so it might not be the best choice for a pool surround. On the other hand, Trex can be a little less expensive upfront than ipe and it is available in colors not found in natural woods. To continue your decking comparison, let’s talk money.

Ipe vs Trex Cost, Now and Down the Road

Whatever type of deck you build, it is going to require maintenance. You have an upfront cost for construction that includes parts and labor. Once your dream deck is created it may be a beauty to behold, but that beauty depends on you if it is going to last. This means that even with the most durable, weather-resistant, hands-off deck is going to come with maintenance considerations.

Maintenance means money. Cleaning products and stains have financial costs, and so does elbow grease. If you are going to be the one maintaining your beautiful deck, you have to consider how much your time is worth. This means knowing what you should expect as an upfront construction cost. Average annual maintenance cost is also important before you decide on ipe over Trex, or vice versa.

Ipe is a “real wood” created by Mother Nature and it is incredibly dense. If you prefer to let it patina to a beautiful gray then it doesn’t have to be stained or sealed. Have you ever seen teak wood used on a boat? It will also weather out if not oiled.

Material Hardwood Ipe

Newly installed, raw ipe.

Material Hardwood Ipe Weathered Eight Months

Ipe after 6-8 months with no oil.

Ipe after 15-20 years with no oil

Ipe after 15-20 years with no oil.

On the other hand if you would like to retain the beautiful natural colors then you would need to have it oiled on an annual basis. Ipe is so tightly constructed by nature that stains, sealers and oil cannot penetrate past the outer layer of the wood very well.

Newly installed ipe deck with oil being applied

Newly installed ipe deck with oil being applied.

Your initial cost for ipe decking materials will most likely be higher than those of Trex products. This is in part because it is imported from Central and South America. Also there is only so much ipe in the world. It has to be grown and responsibly harvested.

Deck Roof Ipe Dallas

Trex is a manufactured product that combines recycled plastic and wood. This makes it a little less expensive. Composite decking materials are not as strong as ipe (aka ironwood), so it requires a little more attention to the framework when installing.

On an annual maintenance basis, a 12′ x 20′ ipe deck may carry an average annual maintenance cost of $480 for cleaning and oiling, while the same size Trex deck can set you back $240 or more per year on average for cleaning cost.

Deck Pool Las Colinas, Ipe vs Trex

Trex Patio Deck

Ipe vs Trex Durability: How Long do You Want Your Deck to Last?

Trex Decking

Ipe is a natural hardwood that is found mainly in Brazil. Trex is a composite decking material made from mostly recycled wood and plastic. Incidentally, Trex is also the name of the company that manufactures this decking product. Due to their physical makeup, ipe and Trex respond differently to Father Time, exposure to sunlight and other factors.

Ipe lasts forever. Not really, but it sure seems that way. Ipe decking has been used at Disneyworld and on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in New Jersey because it lasts so long. Its low-maintenance, high-density resistance to pounding feet and weather compared to other deck types is why you can expect 25 to 50 years of longevity on most ipe products. Some ipe decks can last 50 to 75 years or longer when they are taken care of.

That’s right… your ipe deck may outlive you!

This is not to say that Trex materials don’t last. They certainly do. Trex backs their decking products with a 25 year warranty. If you take care of your Trex deck, you can expect it to look great and provide wonderful memories for 25 to 30 years.

What the Heck is the Janka Hardness Scale?

Comparing ipe vs Trex means understanding how hard they are. The oddly named Janka scale measures how hard different natural woods are. Named after Austrian Gabriel Janka, it is often used to compare how hard decking materials are, thereby giving you an idea of how resistant they are to wear and weather.

The Janka hardness rating for ipe is 3,680, which is 8 times harder than that of a California redwood tree. Trex decking materials are not nearly as hard as ipe. This does not mean they aren’t durable, as is evidenced by the accompanying 25 year warranty. Trex does not carry a Janka rating, but it should be fine for your backyard deck.

You want to choose a hardness level like that of ipe or some other dense hardwood if you are going to have extremely high levels of traffic and wear, like in the Disneyland and Atlantic City Boardwalk examples from earlier. For a residential application, you can expect years of beauty and durability from either ipe or Trex decking products.

Consider Your Deck Material Fire Rating

A fire rating comparison of decking products shows that Trex decking materials are recommended as safe for residential applications. Many of the products in your home, including the building materials that were used to build your home, carry the Class C fire rating of Trex decking products. Also referred to as a Class III rating, this classification comes from Underwriters Laboratories, an unbiased and independent consumer safety organization.

Ipe woods have earned a Class A (Class I) fire rating. This means they are also safe and acceptable for residential applications such as building your deck. Because this wood is so dense and tightly packed, it is much harder for it to catch fire with a very low fire spread time when compared to other natural woods and composite decking products. And for this reason ipe is accepted for most commercial applications.

Keeping the Bugs at Bay

A comparison of ipe vs Trex decks would not be complete without discussing the insects and bugs that may view your deck as a tasty treat. You probably also want to know that your resident woodpecker won’t be able to drill holes in your deck when he is looking for bugs to eat. In both cases, Trex and ipe decking materials are more insect-resistant than many natural and composite woods.

Trex is sold as insect-resistant and ipe is noted for being insect-resistant. Because Trex boards are a combo of wood and plastic, they are less than appealing to the bugs that chomp on wood. The natural ipe wood repels insects because it is too hard for them to chew or bore into. Both are winners here.

Rain, Sun, Snow and Other Weather Considerations

Time and weather will eventually destroy anything, whether man-made or natural. Will the sun fade a Trex deck? The answer is yes… after a considerable amount of time. Trex is a composite decking type, and this means it is resistant to fading. However, if your Trex deck receives strong, direct sunlight most of the year, it’s color may begin to fade. This will only happen after 10 or so years, and the fading is gradual, not all at once.

An ipe deck will naturally fade over time. It will eventually develop a silver-grayish patina. The special ipe oil finish mentioned earlier can help your Ipe deck maintain a beautiful, natural appearance. As was previously discussed, these oils need to be applied on an annual basis to keep the original look of the wood.

If your deck builder does his job properly, he will talk about the natural tendency for a Trex deck to gradually change its color over the first 2 to 3 months after it has been built. This is a normal occurrence which happens as your deck adjusts itself to your environment. It might be a good idea to take a look at an existing Trex deck in your area so you can picture the very slight change in color will occur.

As far as rain, snow and other weather conditions that can physically impact your deck, Trex and ipe both do a good job resisting their effects. Both are mold and splinter-resistant, both clean up easily after a storm, and both are highly weather-resistant.

What Do Trex and Ipe Decks Look Like?

Trex comes in several colors. Ipe gives you what Mother Nature created. This means your ipe deck will have boards with varying shades and hues of a rich reddish brown. There are amber and cherry red influences as well. If you have an obsessive compulsive disorder, you are going to want to choose Trex vs ipe, since the color will be consistent from one board to the next.

Since Trex decking materials are man-made, you can choose one of the many colors available and every board will match its partner. Trex color variations include descriptive names like Spiced Rum, Gravel Path, Tiki Torch and Lava Rock.

We talked earlier about how ipe will eventually develop a silvery, gray finish. This by no means will happen immediately. You can expect a year or so of use out of your ipe deck before the natural grayish patina will begin to develop. With Trex decking you can expect the same look 5 or 10 years down the road as you get after the initial 8 to 12 week color change takes place.

Safety Factors to Think About When Comparing Ipe vs Trex

Does comparing ipe vs Trex mean one is a safer product than the other? Since both products are durable and long-lasting, it is hard to say that one is going to provide more safety than the other. If you want your deck to be built out of one of the hardest woods on the planet, one that is virtually fire, rot and bug-resistant, choose the more expensive ipe.

That having been said, the construction of Trex decking materials makes them unattractive to insects and other bugs that bore into wood. Trex and ipe are resistant to decay, which lends obvious safety factors. This means a safe decking product, as the structural integrity of the deck is kept intact.

Ipe is one of a limited number of decking choices that gets the thumbs-up from the American Disabilities Act. It is actually so anti-slippery that it surpasses the standards and requirements the American Disabilities Act (ADA) demands for its safety seal of approval. It is highly slip-resistant, even when wet. Trex decking is available in slightly textured finishes that make it slip-resistant as well.

Consider the Environmental Impact

Arguing ipe vs Trex scores some environmentally conscious points for both sides. Ipe lasts so long that repair and replacement costs are virtually nonexistent. This means that less ipe wood needs to be harvested over time to build these durable, beautiful decks. Since an ipe deck can literally look great and keep its functionality for 50 or more years, there is less of an environmental impact than caused by the 15 to 25 year longevity of pressure-treated pine decks. Ipe wood is also chemical-free.

Trex decks are environmentally responsible as well. Trex is made from 95% recycled wood fibers, sawdust waste and recycled plastic materials. Additionally, Trex works hand-in-hand with the US Forest Stewardship Council to ensure the decking materials they offer didn’t come from an endangered rain forest. The same is true for many ipe manufacturers, so be sure to ask your deck builder if his ipe products are FSC-approved when you request a free quote.

An ipe deck with trees embedded.

Best Decking Materials for the Dallas Metro Area

So you are thinking about building a deck in Dallas, Texas but you’re not sure what decking materials you should use? The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is the 4th largest metro area in the US. More than 7 million people call the 13 counties of this metro region home because the weather is beautiful all year-round. Enjoying that weather without leaving home is possible with a pool deck, patio deck or balcony deck. You can entertain, create a place to escape or use your deck to show off your backyard barbecue skills.

Ipe deck poolside, stained.

Ipe can add that extra sense of luxury you’re looking for.

No matter what type of deck you build, you need to choose the right materials. This means understanding what decking materials work best for your environment. A veteran deck builder with decades of experience crafting quality decks in the Dallas area knows the pros and cons for the popular woods and composites used to build decks that last, and that help you create memorable experiences.

This report helps you compare decking products. You will learn which are more expensive to build and those types of decking materials which require minimal maintenance. We will cover popular wood and composite decking manufacturers, and all other aspects you need to know to make an informed decision as to which decking material you should be using. If you know you want to have a deck built but don’t know what materials you should use for your particular situation, this guide will help you answer all your questions.

Listed below in no particular order are the most commonly used types of wood and composite decking materials in the Dallas metropolitan area. They provide varying degrees of functionality and durability, cover a wide range of price points, and can be used for many types of decks.

Common Natural Woods for Decking

Far and away the most common type of wood used to build a deck is Southern Yellow Pine or SYP. This wood is pressure treated (then called Pressure Treated Pine or PTP for short) to extend its natural resistance against rotting, decaying and insect infestation. Pressure treated pine, cedar and redwood are the most common natural woods used to build a deck in Dallas. Let’s take a look at each in turn, comparing and contrasting them according to features, durability and price points.

Pressure-Treated Pine, Mobile Home Deck

Pressure-treated pine decks makes are an excellent add-on for mobile homes.

Pressure treated pine is the most economical and found to be used in most decks in the United States for one simple reason–it is the least expensive decking material. Bear in mind that this only means initial construction and labor cost. It is easy to work with, has a plentiful supply, and can give you a good looking deck for 15 or 25 years (or longer) if properly maintained.

Pressure treated pine delivers the beauty of natural wood, but pressure treated pine decks will need the application of a good weather sealant and it will have to be periodically reapplied. Talk to a well seasoned deck builder as to what products will give you the best protection as well as when to apply them to your newly installed deck.

People build decks for different reasons. If you are on a budget and looking for a pool deck or want to build a surround for your hot tub, pressure treated lumber is recommended. When you keep a routine maintenance schedule it can give you years of enjoyment.

Remember that the upfront cost for pressure treated decking materials is very attractive, but ongoing maintenance, time and financial considerations are going to be a little greater than with other types of woods and composites like Trex decking and ipe (pronounced ee-pay) wood.

Cedar is considered a soft wood, but it nonetheless makes for beautiful, long-lasting decks. Cedar decking materials offer a distinctive color and hue, and there is no mistaking the luxurious smell of a cedar deck. You may fall in the love with cedar decking products because of the rich red coloring. If you’re looking for a beautiful deck, cedar can definitely deliver.

Balcony Deck Made of Cedar

Cedar looks fantastic as a decking material, and it can last for years.

Cedar should be re-sealed every few years, and when proper maintenance practices are observed, you can still have a really attractive deck after 20 to 30 years. As opposed to other decking materials, cedar carries a middle-of-the-road price tag.

While Redwood has a natural resistance to rot, decay and boring insects it will still need maintenance. It will also give you a natural and beautiful deck. It works well in the Dallas metropolitan area and can be the centerpiece for great backyard entertaining experiences. Like cedar, redwood costs less than hardwoods and composites, man-made decking materials, and it can be less prone to warping over time than pressure treated wood. Like most natural woods it is best used when installed so that it has ample space between the deck and the ground. This allows for air to flow keeping the deck dry underneath and adds to the longevity.

You should also weather seal a redwood deck every few years to get the best possible performance. Since redwood is a softwood like cedar, it will be easier to scratch or stain than a hardwood or composite. Additionally, if older/inner tree growth is used to make your redwood decking materials, life expectancy is around 20 to 30 years (or longer) with regular maintenance.

To recap, pressure treated pine is always going to be your least expensive deck building choice at least upfront. Cedar and redwood will cost more to build than a PTP deck, while offering a more distinctive appearance and lasting a little longer. With any of these wood decking materials you are going to have to contribute regular time, money and elbow grease to keep them looking good and lasting as long as possible.

Composite Decking Material

Composite decking materials came about for a number of reasons. Sustainability is a real concern any time you build something using wood. A tree has to be grown and harvested to create wood decking materials. Composite decking products combine wood fibers, sawdust waste and recycling plastics. Because of this reason, they are environmentally friendly and the best composite decking materials last a long time with minimal maintenance.

Rooftop Composite Deck

Composite decks make for great rooftop decks.

However, the process for making composites is costly. This means that while your composite deck can often return several years of beauty and high quality performance with little maintenance, it is going to require a bit higher financial commitment in the construction phase. This is offset by lower annual maintenance costs and less time investment on your part year after year.

Build a composite deck and you get a uniform appearance from board to board. If you want a consistent look and a long-lasting deck, consider composites.

The manufacturer warranties you receive will in almost all cases be much more attractive than with pressure treated wood and other natural softwood products, and you won’t have to worry about splintering, cracking, splitting, deterioration or insects and other bugs eating your deck.

Composite decks can offer a high-end look, and this segment of the decking industry is one of the fastest growing currently. Trex is the market leader in composite decking, and Fiberon and Azek are other quality manufacturers.

The composite marketplace is evolving constantly, and Trex has become the industry leader because the company offers extreme durability with an environmentally friendly product that requires little maintenance while holding its appearance and functionality for decades. Trex offers an impressive 25 year warranty against fading and staining on residential decking products. This warranty also includes replacement due to defects in workmanship, and a guarantee that your boards will not splinter, rot or split. Additionally, you get a guarantee that Trex products are insect resistant and no structural damage will occur due to decay from fungal infection.

Trex composite deck set at poolside

Trex decking is long-lasting, looks great, and requires less maintenance than other materials.

Build a Trex deck and you’re working with material that is made from 95% recycled materials. The Trex lineup receives the blessing of the US Forest Stewardship Council, and FSC approval means no decking material came from an endangered rain forest. The Trex lineup includes Select, Enhance and Transcends lineups, with the Transcends product being the top-of-the-line offering.

Azek Building Products makes decking materials which are backed by 30 year limited and limited lifetime warranties, depending on the product. The TimberTech line is also a part of the Azek family. Fiberon decking products also work well in the Dallas Fort Worth metro area, and are backed with a limited residential warranty that promises protection against splitting and decaying, rotting or splintering, and termite infestation. Fiberon also backs their products with a limited stain and fade warranty.

Bamboo: The Hot New Thing for Decks

When most people think of bamboo, they picture the slender bamboo stalks which grow to a height of 6 to 8 feet. Some bamboo can actually grow to a height of 80 feet and a width of 1 foot. Unlike decking materials made from wood, where the entire tree must be cut down, bamboo can be harvested without cutting the tree. Moso Bamboo is a decking material now available in the Dallas Metroplex, offering a 25 year limited warranty against rot, decay and insect infestation.

If you want a deck with a slightly different coloration than you get from natural softwoods and hardwoods, you may want to consider Moso Bamboo products. This is a green alternative to exotic hardwood decking material, but expect to pay more than other decking materials other than most tropical hardwoods.

Tropical Hardwoods: Beautiful, Exotic, and Luxurious

Exotic, tropical hardwoods include ipe, tigerwood, cumaru, Abaco, massaranduba and garapa. These extremely durable hardwoods are longer-lasting but also require a little maintenance. They can keep their color for decades with proper maintenance, and you can expect up to 50 years of beautiful high performance from an ipe deck when it is cared for properly.

Beautiful and elegant poolside ipe deck

Ipe is an excellent wood for poolside decks.

Ipe (also known by other names such as ironwood), cumaru and the other tropical hardwoods are incredibly dense. They are among the hardest woods used for building decking products, naturally resistant to rot and decay, insect infestation and boring as well as wearing well against the elements. All tropical hardwoods offer a very attractive longevity feature but will need maintenance. Tropical hardwood decks are like a fine exotic automobile and if they are within your budget this means they do require a financial investment where annual maintenance is concerned.

These woods are gorgeous, long-lasting, naturally resistant to mother nature and weather, and definitely at the high-end of the initial cost range when compared with other decking materials. However, when you want to build a deck that says elegance and quality, look no further than a hardwood like the gorgeous ipe.

Ipe carries the highest possible fire rating and is one of the hardest woods on the planet. Expecting decades from your beautiful ipe deck is not at all out of line, and the decking materials made from this wood have received the blessing of the Americans with Disabilities Act Requirements for safety because they are extremely slip-resistant, even when wet.

Ipe wood naturally resists fungus and mold, rot, decay and boring insects, without the need for the addition of any chemicals. The natural olive brown to reddish finish gives a look of luxury and class, and this wood is so durable it has been used at the Atlantic City Boardwalk, Disney World, the Coney Island Boardwalk and San Diego’s Shelter Island Marina.

Ipe rooftop deck

Ipe provides excellent slip resistance on top of being beautiful.

If you select ipe or another tropical hardwood, you get one of the lowest cost-for-life decking products you can possibly choose. Your initial investment will usually be higher than if you select many other decking materials, but your ongoing upkeep and maintenance costs over time are much lower than those alternative decking products.

You should know that ipe wood offered by a responsible decking contractor is considered a “green” product. It carries the FSC seal of approval mentioned earlier as a wood that is harvested with sustainable and renewable practices. If you don’t mind paying more in the construction phase for your deck and a little every year for the next several decades for maintenance, a luxurious tropical hardwood like ipe adds instant status and high-quality class to any home.

Thermally Modified Wood

Natural wood can be modified through the application of a number of processes. One way to do this is to heat wood without the presence of oxygen, thereby making it more durable by changing its cellular structure. This thermal modification makes softer wood more durable and long-lasting, bakes the sugars and starches out of the wood making it insect resistant of which can be seen as an environmentally friendly by-product of this process. Since this wood lasts longer than it naturally does, fewer trees need to be harvested to make decking products.

These processes also make wood more resistant to mold. Thermally modified wood products are 50% to 75% less likely than their natural counterparts to swell or shrink in the presence of dramatically high or low temperatures. Some homeowners like the fact that attractive softwoods receive a darker color thanks to the thermal modification process. As with composite decking materials, there are a wide variety of colors and shades available.

Three of the top thermally modified would manufacturers are Kebony, Thermory and Cambia.

Choosing the Right Deck Material for the Dallas Metro Area

You just can’t beat pressure-treated pine if your biggest deck building consideration is your pocketbook. First-time homeowners and those with tight budgets are recommended to consider a pressure-treated deck for a lot of reasons. First off, the initial investment is lower than with any other type of deck build. If you have never had a deck before, this is a sensible and low-cost way to enjoy the experience.

If over time you realize that you are not spending that much time on your deck or you need to move out of your home, you have a minimal upfront investment. The slight downside to pressure-treated decks is maintenance. You should always sweep and otherwise clean any deck. In the case of a PT deck which is going to be subjected to the heat and humidity of the Dallas, Texas area, it is recommended that you stain your deck every few years.

The same is true if you choose to build a cedar or redwood deck. Redwood and cedar are going to set you back a little bit more initially than if you choose pressure-treated wood, and many people find them more attractive than a less expensive PT pine deck.

Consider a composite decking material like Trex if you are environmentally conscious. Since Trex materials are composed of 95% recycled plastics and wood fibers, you’re looking out for the environment and the planet because your decking material is made up of what would otherwise end up in a landfill. Trex decking products are backed with a 25-year warranty at least, they are resistant to rot and decay, insect boring and infestation, and you won’t begin to see gradual fading for more than 10 or 15 years.

Another benefit of Trex decking is that it doesn’t need to be stained, painted, sealed or finished. As you know, you should not expect that your softwood or hardwood decking boards will all have the same grain patterns, coloration and hue. If you are a stickler for uniformity, Trex will provide a better experience than natural wood. Trex decking materials come in a wide variety of colors and textures, and you receive long-lasting durability and low maintenance with an installation cost that is lower than tropical hardwoods but higher than softwoods like pressure-treated pine and cedar.

Thermally modified wood and bamboo make for interesting decking material choices. These are the newest decking innovations, and while they don’t have the track history of other alternatives, they seem to offer some attractive features.

Ipe deck for commercial property

Ipe decks also make a great solution for commercial properties because of their longevity.

Finally, if you want your deck to reflect class and luxury, you should definitely consider a tropical hardwood like ipe. This durable wood is made by mother nature to last for a extremely long time when compared to other decking materials. It will require annual maintenance such as any fine automobile.

Ipe wood carries the same fire rating as steel and concrete, and is easily the lowest cost-for-life decking choice. If you want to take your decking game to the next level and create an outdoor experience that will be the envy of the neighborhood while also reflecting your demand of excellence and class, you can’t go wrong with ipe. Also ipe if not weather treated annually will gradually change to a beautiful gray which is acceptable to many.

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