It’s 2019 - do you still like your non-wood deck?
April 8, 2019 6:07 PM   Subscribe

We’re replacing a poorly-constructed floating wood deck with a paver patio, but we need to build a set of steps from the door to the patio. Having fought with our painted wood deck over the years, we’re leaning toward steps made of wood alternatives. There are a couple composite/PVC decking posts from 2007 and 2012, but I’d love to hear what people think of their Trex/Azek/other decking nowadays.

Have squirrels eaten your composite boards? Have they faded to a weird pink along the edges? Are your feet irreparably burned? Or are you thankful every year for your decision?

Alternately, if you love wood and want to convince me to reconsider, please let me know! We can’t build anything flush to the exterior wall due to an unfortunately-located basement bathroom vent and window well. Something moveable/accessible may prevent future catastrophe there, otherwise we’d do stone steps. We live in Minnesota, so whatever we build will be subject to snow/ice/temperature fluctuations.
posted by Maarika to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Salt Lake City, Utah here. We've had our Azek deck with steps into the lawn for three years now, and without issue. Survived two winters (this last year was particularly snowy) and it's not gone weirdly colored or worn. Aside from the dirt I've yet to power wash off of it this spring, it looks the same as it did when we put it in. I usually throw an outdoor area rug down over most of it during the summer months, so scalded toes aren't an issue for us. I love not having to do anything with it other than sweep/wash it off, unlike the wood fencing we put in at the same time and have to stain yearly and tighten up boards on.
posted by msbutah at 6:45 PM on April 8, 2019

Painted wood decks are a pain in the ass, and are hard to keep looking nice. Stained wood decks are a bit easier to maintain, and look notably nicer if you pressure-wash and re-stain them every other year or so. We built a cedar deck on top of an old disintegrating cement slab, resting the cedar decking on top of pressure treated wood. The pressure treated pieces underneath could have been just an inch or two tall, but we wanted to have it level with that damn step by the doorway. I went the extra distance and put plastic shims under the pressure treated boards so any water wouldn't really sit against the boards too long. We don't get tons of snow, but we get lots of rain in the PNW, and its holding up fine.

We ended up using a kreg jig that allows the boards to be screwed in at an angle, so you don't really see the screws. A+++ WOULD KREG JIG AGAIN. You can walk around barefoot on this thing and not worry about splinters. The lack of holes from screws on the top has kept it looking P damn nice, and there aren't any hitches on it (except for where my boards don't join up 100% because I decided to be faaaaancy and put the boards in at a 45 degree angle...this needlessly complicated the build, and Would not angle again). I've noticed that this is the point where most wood decks start to get shitty; those little holes hold moisture, and regardless of the hardware you use, end up rusting and causing splinters to show around there.

I have a friend who built a deck and went with some lesser grade wood, but painted it with burly outdoor paint. It's a good deck with a good frame, but after seeing ours, they're going to eventually redo it in regular cedar decking.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:24 PM on April 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

Our neighbors had a massive light gray TimberTech deck installed 4 years ago and it looks great. My only criticism is that the white railings look a bit cheap. My in-laws installed a Trex deck last year in a mid-brown and used a matching mid-brown railing that doesn't scream artificial wood as much as the white ones do.
posted by defreckled at 7:25 PM on April 8, 2019

Trex, brown, 10+ years, maintenance-free, still looks great.
posted by dum spiro spero at 9:38 PM on April 8, 2019

Trex, 6 years, still looks fine. The builder screwed up the spacing between two boards so they tented up in that one spot, but it's nowhere near as screwed up as the wood that the builder installed. The trex has needed no maintenance whereas the wood railing needs repainted already.
posted by slidell at 9:59 PM on April 8, 2019

We had a composite deck installed in 2015. Still very happy with it. We have noticed a chip out of a plank near the edge but that could be due to moving furniture around. Also don’t let your kids hold sparklers on the deck because any dropped sparks will leave a scorch mark, and burn mom’s toe (which REALLY HURT). But that was a pretty dumb user error (similar would happen on real wood) when you think about it.

My sister has a painted deck and she regrets painting it as it requires regular repainting.

It does get hot so flip flops near the door are nice to have if you’re normally a barefoot person in summer.
posted by melissa at 6:19 AM on April 9, 2019

My parents installed Trex 10-12 years ago. It was reddish-brown and has faded, but looks much better than wood after this long with zero maintenance.

Still hot as hell on the feet, but everybody just got used to using flip-flops.
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:28 AM on April 9, 2019

I have a 4x6 Trex deck with 4 steps down to a concrete patio that I built about 5 years ago. Would definitely do it over again as I’m not the type to re-coat a wood deck ever two years. Looks as good as the day I finished it.

The Trex I bought has a PVC outer layer that can get a little slick in cold, wet conditions but that is about all I can say for negatives. My deck is on the North side of my house, so I do not have heat issues since it is almost always in the shade.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:28 AM on April 9, 2019

San Francisco, where it's often foggy and wet for months and then bone dry for months. Trex deck is now ~5 years old, and I really like it. It's aged into a nice patina, and is much easier to clean than wood. It feels nice in the sun, but I imagine that's color dependent (mine is a sort of pale beige with pink undertones, so it reflects a lot of light, but darker ones would be hotter). It was expensive, but 10/10, would use again (and I love wood and resisted Trex, but wood tends to just rot away here so there you go).
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 3:43 PM on April 9, 2019

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