Category Archives: Trex

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.