Category Archives: Composite woods

Plain and simple, the only thing that looks like wood — is wood.

Screened porch with stained ACQ pressure-treated wood in Overland Park, KS

Screened porch with stained ACQ pressure-treated wood in Overland Park, KS

When we think deck, we think wood. With all of the talk about composite decks, one may be led to believe that’s the only good option. Wood is still a REALLY good option for a deck. Plain and simple, wood is still a great option. The only thing that looks like wood — is wood.

Last week, we posted a story called “Do you REALLY want a composite deck?” At Archadeck, our job is to counsel you about the options, help you decide what is best for you, and build the absolute best product for you.

Regarding composites, many of our customers hear all of the benefits of composite decking and PVC decking and assume that’s the only thing that will suit their needs. It seems funny to me but many people think Archadeck is a composite decking product. In fact, we are a custom builder and we use every sort of decking material imaginable depending on what our customers want and what makes the most sense for them. We build decks with pressure-treated wood, natural wood such as cedar, composite wood such as TimberTech and Evergrain, PVC and PVC capped boards which TimberTech also has as well as AZEK and Trex, and last but not least – hardwood. Naturally composite woods are gaining in popularity because of the benefits I mentioned in the last post.

There are many pre-conceived notions and misconceptions about woods as well as many familiar memories. When we think of wood decks, inevitably we remember a couple splinters we received from a wooden dock or deck as a child. Or, we may also think of our own current deck or a deck from a past home that was made of natural wood and suffered from splitting or cracking or molding. These are all true. All wood will suffer from various wear, use and aging depending on the type of wood, how the wood is treated, and the amount of direct sun the wood receives. In fact, composites and PVC decking also suffer from various issues but mostly to a lower degree. It’s a tradeoff. With more expense comes more benefits.

Cedar deck

Cedar deck

There are several reasons to build a wood deck

A wooden deck is A LOT LESS EXPENSIVE.

A wooden deck still lasts a long time. Depending on the type of wood you plan to use, your wood deck may last 15 years or even longer if well cared for and maintained. A composite deck or hardwood deck may last 30-50 years although many of us will have moved to a different house in that span of time.

A wooden deck is familiar and comfortable. It’s reminiscent of the deck you had as a kid. That “gray” color that wood naturally fades to is very appealing if you like the natural effect of aging and weathering. The docks we walked on as children and the decks we played on as children were made of natural wood.

With the various pressure treatments of wood, pressure-treated wood suffers from fewer issues than it did in the past.

Kansas City cedar covered deck

Kansas City cedar covered deck

Let me tell you first what hasn’t changed. A natural wood or pressure-treated wood deck will gray out if not stained and sealed on a regular schedule – every 2-3 years or so. Natural wood such as cedar or redwood will still crack, split and splinter but they do have some rot resistance. Pressure-treated wood will also do this but has the added benefit that the treatment prevents rot and termites.

One of the big things to ask yourself if considering a wood deck is how much maintenance do you want to do on your deck. The next question is how long do you want your deck to last. This depends greatly on the amount of sun your deck or structure will receive. Nothing speeds up the process of aging faster than direct sunlight. The more direct sunlight and the hotter the sunlight that hits your deck, the faster the wood will age.

As you can imagine the question of whether to build with wood, composite or PVC is not an easy question. With more expense comes some different features and benefits. Composite boards are more consistent. They don’t have imperfections. Wood has imperfections such as knots but this is also what endears us to wood.

Don’t forget that a wood deck will still last a long time and although far from the only option, is still a really good option.

To discuss your new project and what material might be best for you, give us a call at (913) 851 – 3325 or email kansascity@archadeck.net.

Do you love the sound of the summer rain?

Most people love the sound of the summer rain. It’s probably because of the amazing smells that comes with it. There is nothing like the smell of summer and the smell in summer just after the rain. The other great thing that goes with summer rain is usually a nice cool breeze. Are you one of those people that goes to a favorite spot in your home when the rain begins because you know you can best hear and smell and feel everything that goes with the rain?

My customers tell me the same thing — my customers that I have built a sunroom for. Now imagine that the special place you go in your house when it rains is actually outside your house. A screened porch fits the bill for this just perfectly. With a screened porch…

You can eat outdoors without the bugs

You can be outdoors and control privacy and sun

You can be outdoors in the rain – it’s great to sit out there in summer rain

You can be out there with laptop or radio or TV because you have shelter from the elements

Before picture

When these Leawood KS homeowners called us, they had a number of problems with their old deck. The deck had issues and the awning which had served as sun and rain protection was ripped and leaked.

We decided to build a new deck and an adjoining screened porch. The style of this home is unique and has a lot of character so we came up with a couple of creative design ideas and presented the ideas to the homeowners. One of the roof designs that we presented for the sunroom was very unique and fitting of the charming look of this tudor-style home. It has a gable on a shed roof.

Another design detail was the redesign of the stairs. They wanted to design stairs to work with landscaping so we designed steps to be completely different than before and to work with their landscaping plans.

Kansas City Screen Porch by Archadeck

Kansas City Screen Porch by Archadeck

Here are some more details about the project and materials. We used Fiberon composite decking in Ipe color. This color imitates look of a tropical hardwood such as Ipe. We used Smart trim is designed to be painted to match the color of the house. We used Fortress railing which is galvanized steel rail that’s powder coated. This rail is very popular nationwide.

Kansas City Screened Porch inside tongue and groove ceiling

Kansas City Screened Porch inside tongue and groove ceiling

Here is a picture of the inside of the sunroom. You can see how the detail on the roof design really adds to the aesthetic appeal inside the screened porch as well. You’ll also note from the picture how much sun comes into the screened porch while still providing some sun protection.

Our consultation is free. Give us a call to discuss some ideas for your next outdoor project. (913) 851 – 3325 or email kansascity@archadeck.net

The Skinny On Today’s Railings

When selecting railings for your next outdoor project, you might be surprised that there are a lot more options than you think. The railing industry has exploded in the last few years. There are many choices in colors, materials, width, and required maintenance. But, overall the trend is very quickly turning toward thin metal railings for their aesthetic appeal and because thin railings allow more visibility beyond your deck. Here’s the “skinny” on railings.

Ipe deck with Deckorator tube railing

A few years ago, the next big thing in railing was vinyl railings. Vinyl is used most exclusively in white. Vinyl is inexpensive but the trade-off is it is not very structurally sound. Vinyl is sensitive to scratching, it fades and it usually has to be reinforced on the inside with wood or metal. The bottom line is it’s inexpensive for a reason.

Beautiful Hardwood deck by Archadeck Kansas City

Composite railings are a low-maintenance option but there are also some drawbacks to composite railings. The cost of composite railings can be quite prohibitive. Also, railings made of composite woods are thicker and are square. While the drawbacks of a square rail are not readily apparent, there are more sides to paint on a square rail. There are more sides to clean. You can multiply your efforts in staining, sealing and cleaning by four.

For this and other reasons, metal railing has really hit its stride. As for adding metal railings to your project, most consumers no longer want everything to match. Railings today are increasingly seen in contrasting colors instead of matching colors. Customers now want a railing with character and they want a railing they can see through. Metal railings are more slender than wood or vinyl railings ( typically 50% of the thickness or less). Metal railings combine view, strength, rigidity, durability, beauty and low maintenance all in one.

The most popular railing color over the last few years is black. Regardless of the deck color, with it’s upscale look and low maintenance, black metal railing is a tremendously popular choice.

The two most common types of metal railings are steel and aluminum. These railings are often powder coated. Fortress steel railing is made of steel and is powder coated.  Deckorator also makes metal railings and that’s a product we build with quite a bit.

Timbertech also offers a wonderful rail of reinforced composite, it comes in black and white, and it is more scratch resistant, durable and doesn’t need reinforcement to maintain rigidity. Radiance Rail has been a big seller with Archadeck Kansas City in black, with many happy customers.

Whether you are considering the ever popular metal railings, or a wonderful composite give Archadeck of Kansas City a call today and we can discuss all the possibilities to custom design and build your next deck or outdoor structure.

With composite woods, if you’ve seen one, you haven’t seen them all

Kansas City TimberTech Deck with White Low-Maintenance Composite Railing

Kansas City TimberTech Deck with White Low-Maintenance Composite Railing

Are you considering building a new deck, patio or other outdoor living area in your back yard? If you’ve talked to friends or done some research, you’re likely very familiar with composite woods or you’ve heard a good deal about them. Likely you’ve formed some sort of opinion and likely feel that composite would be ideal for your new project. Like  everything that lasts longer, composite is more expensive. And, for the most part, you get what you pay for.

The composite wood industry is almost 20 years old. Some of the composite companies are actually on their 4th or 5th generation of product cycle. They’ve added new colors, new materials, new styles and new features.

Kansas City Evergrain Composite Spa Deck with Storage Bench

Kansas City Evergrain Composite Spa Deck with Storage Bench

Here are the the primary benefits of using composite woods:

  • Termite warranty
  • Rot warranty
  • Boards will not split
  • Lower maintenance

Previously, the composites were not warrantied against stain and fade. Composites are now just coming on to the market with stain and fade warranties – and long ones too. TimberTech is coming out with a new product called TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions which has a 25-year fade and stain warranty. AZEK and Fiberon are also addressing the fade and stain problems with composites.

Warranty is one big difference you will find among composites. But, the other big differences are price and the composite characteristics. Price will vary for market to market based on a variety of factors. But even composites that look somewhat similar can have very different characteristics. One company’s cedar shade may be very different from another. Another company’s grain pattern or texture may be different than another company’s product.

Kansas City WeatherBest Composite Deck with Painted Treated Wood Pergola with Custom Gate and Lattice

Kansas City WeatherBest Composite Deck with Painted Treated Wood Pergola with Custom Gate and Lattice

So, how do you decide? Everything is a balance. Weight what is important to you as it relates to warranties, required maintenance, price and the aesthetic appeal of the composites you are considering. Then, during the specification and design phase, find an experienced contractor with strong familiarity across many of the composite lines to discuss the pros and cons of the top composites you are considering. A qualified, experienced professional outdoor contractor will be glad to take the time with you to review the choices and considerations when selecting the composite that’s right for you.

I’ve been an outdoor builder in the Kansas City market for over 10 years now and used many of the top composites including EverGrain, TimberTech, AZEK, and Fiberon.