Category Archives: TimberTech

Composite wood and synthetic wood has come a long way baby – Top 5 key steps in their evolution

If you’re thinking about adding a new deck, porch other other outdoor structure to your yard, any early research may be a dizzying experience. There are so many brands with so many choices. We’d like to share some of the steps we’ve seen in the evolution of these products.

  1. Rot proof and Termite Proof
  2. Synthetics evolve: low-maintenance please!
  3. Design improvement
  4. Synthetics perform
  5. Synthetics perform even better

Rot proof and Termite Proof

Believe it or not, composite woods were developed over 20 years ago. The formula was rather simple back then. Recycled sawdust was blended with recycled plastic. This “composite” was rot proof, termite proof and environmentally friendly. But, there was no choice of color, no fancy pattern, and the product suffered with mold problems because water seeped into the wood portion of the composite, was held there, and molded.

Synthetics evolve: low-maintenance please!

As time went on and the products became more widely known. Consumers were looking for other features that could be added besides being rot proof and termite proof. New composite woods came to market as low-maintenance products. They still needed to be gently cleaned but did not require annual maintenance. The same is still true today with both composites and synthetics. They neither need to be stained nor sealed and can be easily washed by spraying a hose or with some gentle washing.

Design improvement

New things became important to consumers such as look, texture, scratch resistance, colors, and patterns. Synthetics began to come in a variety of colors and include a variety of patterns such as a wood grain pattern. In trying to incorporate these, manufacturers wanted to change the way boards were made. Many went away from recycled plastic to boards they could specify the quality of. For example, some composite manufacturers began using virgin plastic.

Synthetics perform

With continuous improvements composite boards could now tout better performance. This performance included protection against blistering, peeling, flaking, cracking, splitting, cupping, rotting, and other performance characteristics.

Synthetics perform even better

While the performance had grown in leaps and bounds, there were still 2 performance characteristics that the products did not provide – stain resistance and fade resistance. It’s important to note that we use the word resistance here and when talking about maintenance, we always state low maintenance instead of no maintenance. Anything can be damaged by neglect such as leaving spilled wine on the surface. These products can still be damaged with very sharp objects.

Then a new material entered the market – PVC. PVC boards such as AZEK don’t have any wood fibers in them at all. They are 100% synthetic. These synthetics provided a host of additional performance characteristics including superior stain and fade resistance. They do perform better. The raw material is more expensive and therefore you will pay more for PVC.

Best of both worlds?

More recently, a new type of product is available that has a composite core and is wrapped or capped with PVC. The consumer can benefit from the lower cost that the composite core provides but can enjoy the superior performance that PVC provides.

By now you may have a sense of what type of material may be right for your new deck or porch. The next question relates to which brand to use. To a great extent, this will simply depend on your preference. We can show you samples that show the grains, patterns, and colors to help you make your decision.

Steve FolsomIf you are considering adding a new deck, porch, or other structure to your Kansas City area home, give us a call for a free consultation at (913) 851 – 3325. You can reach us via email at kansascity@archadeck.net.

Wood or composite? Top five questions that will help you decide…

Kansas City composite deck builder Archadeck of Kansas CityOnce you decide on what you want to build for your outdoor living enjoyment, the next round of decisions you need to make are material selection decisions. Choosing whether to use wood or composite for your decking boards is not a simple decision. Both wood and composite have pro’s and con’s. Simply stated, composite will perform better and cost more. Wood still performs well but certainly not as well as composite. Wood costs significantly less. Here are 5 questions to ask yourself to aid you in your decision.

1) How long are you going to be in your home?

If you are planning on being in your home for another 10 or 20 years, then a composite wood warranty will still be in effect. Composites cost more but most carry a 20 or 25 year warranty that protects against things like blistering, peeling, flaking, cracking, splitting, cupping, rotting, and decay from bugs or fungus. Each warranty is different but these are the sorts of protections that will be covered in composite warranties. Natural wood may have no warranty or a limited lifetime warranty. But, this does not mean that a wood deck will suffer from all the maladies covered by a composite warranty. Wood decks can still last 15 or 20 years and still look good if properly maintained. Because composites are low maintenance, carry such a long warranty, and will look the same in 10 years as it does today, composite is a good investment if it makes sense for your budget.

2) How do you feel about painting, staining and sealing?

Do you get crabby just thinking about staining, painting and sealing? Or, does the annual deck maintenance fall into the category of just another outdoor task for each summer? I’ve found that people generally either don’t mind this at all or or simply won’t invest in materials that require annual maintenance. In order for wood to look good from year to year, it will require annual maintenance. In addition, this annual maintenance will have a cost that includes material and possibly labor if you choose to have someone do this for you.

3) How authentic do you want your decking to look?

Nothing looks more like wood than wood itself. Composites have come a long way and they’re looking better all the time. They are adding more streaking and ridges but this is one category where they will be forever be chasing the real thing – natural wood.

4) What sort of wear and tear do you expect your deck to have?

Some wear and tear will come directly from the environment with the sun being the biggest offender in this category. Other wear and tear issues are general use and  moving objects around on the deck such as chairs and tables. A composite deck will resist wear, tear and environmental degrade better than wood.

5) Do you prefer to pay more now and less over time or less now and more over time?

Steve Folsom - Kansas City deck and porch builder

Steve Folsom - Kansas City deck and porch builder

Regardless of all of the features and benefits of composite, it has to make sense for your budget. A well-maintained wood deck can last a good 15-20 years or longer however wood will wear and tear over time. Wood will having some cracking and splintering and other wear and tear issues as time goes on.

The bottom line is the only right decision is the one that’s right for you. Based on your answers to the above questions, you should have a good sense whether wood or composite are the best material selection for your new deck.

Darker composite colors are quite popular in Kansas City

AZEK PVC Kansas City Acacia Morado and Redland Rose

AZEK PVC Acacia Morado and Redland Rose

Picking colors for your next interior or exterior design project is always a fun but challenging task. Many of us turn to recent home magazines or to a retail store for color inspiration. For this task, many of us may even browse paint swatches. It’s a great way to put colors side by side to see how they compliment each other. One thing you’ll notice right away in magazines, stores and paint departments everywhere is dark colors.

Fiberon Horizon Kansas City Composite colors Ipe Rosewood Tudor

Fiberon Horizon composite colors Ipe Rosewood Tudor

Colors, as you probably already know run in trends. For example, white cabinetry was hot for a long time, now however it’s not as popular with new builds. Everything associated with a home runs in trends as well. Like the oil robbed bronze and satin nickels fixtures that are so hot right now. Ten years ago it was polished brass and chrome. Dark colors are very popular in design right now. Furniture, flooring, cabinetry and outdoor decorating materials are all leaning toward dark colors that favor cherry, dark brown stained cedar and darker reds such as the Brazilian hardwood Ipe.

When composites were originally introduced over 15 years ago, there was little to no color selection. The consumer has now demanded lots of choices so all of the manufacturers have expanded their choices. When they first expanded, there were still 2-3 choices. Now it’s not uncommon for manufacturers, particularly AZEK, to have up to 10 choices for colors. The range of choice over the last 10 years has grown exponentially as the manufacturers have tried to meet consumer demands so many of the new selections are in the darker colors.

Trex Composite Kansas City Tree House Lava Rock and Spiced Rub

Trex Composite Tree House Lava Rock and Spiced Rub

If you are thinking about using composites for your next deck project, you will see that their lines include colors that cover the entire spectrum often having boards as light as white and boards in very dark brown or even black. What our customers are choosing right now are the dark brown and dark red colors. Throughout this post are some of the colors that are currently popular. I’ve also included links to their sites so you can see more colors.

TimberTech XLM Kansas City Mountain Cedar and Harvest Bronze

TimberTech XLM Kansas City Mountain Cedar and Harvest Bronze

TimberTech XLM is TimberTech’s PVC composite line. Popular darker colors in this line include. Pacific Teak and Pacific Rosewood

TimberTech Kansas City Pacific Teak and Pacific Rosewood

TimberTech Kansas City Pacific Teak and Pacific Rosewood

TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions is the newest line from TimberTech. This line combines the strength of composite with the finish strength and benefits of PVC. Pacific Teak and Pacific Rosewood are two of the very appealing dark shades.

Here in Kansas City, we also use EverGrain Composite decking. Evergrain has some really nice decking colors.This CherryWood color enjoys a rich reddish look.

EverGrain cherry wood Kansas City Deck Builder

EverGrain cherry wood

Whether a dark color is the right choice for your next outdoor project or whether a lighter, more subtle nuanced shade is best, give us a call to discuss design options. Our office number is 913-851-3325. Or, you can email us at kansascity@archadeck.net.

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.

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.