composite or pressure treated lumber? Help please

marrilynJanuary 22, 2008


We are soon going to be having a new built. We were all set to go with a composite material (Trex), but after reading on this site and others, I'm not so sure its the best idea. Some of the pictures of mold that I've seen have been really disturbing. I also read that the mold may actually come from inside the planks, because it is pulp/filler that is covered by porous plastic. Is that true?

My contractor says that they now have an improved version that supposedly doesn't have the same degree of problem with mold. Has anyone else heard about this?

I'm thinking that if I have to wash my Trex deck twice a year, I might as well go with pressure treated lumber, at a significant savings, and deal with cleaning and sealing it when necessary. Is there something I'm missing in this line of thinking?

More expensive composites and Ipe are not really a consideration. I would consider a composite that was similarly priced to Trex if it were a better product.

Any comments or ideas would be greatly appreciated.



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It is true.Even on this site there are picures of the new T=junk brazilla molding up like spots on a cat.

There are strong arguments for using a high grade of pt decking. Two might be the cost up frount and ease of install,the down side is splits,cracks and warping that will happen with any pt decking. With the given that this will not really bother a lot of Folks as they spend all that saved money on a new sound system or one of these tvs that are so clear the little chips in the nail polish show up you might want to go that way. Any Thing is better than tjunk,doing nothing and walking in the dirt is better. It is my fond hope as trex closes down plants like they are doing that soon they will run out of money to pay those high grade lawyers forcing the whole outfit to go the way of the Do Do.

One other thing to keep in mind>> The acq material we are using now is no place near the old cca of the pastHowever if you dont mind a few little sharp splinters,bowing balusters,full run cracks and replacing a few deck boards as time goes by because you spent that extra money on a new Harley,pt decking might good for you.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 10:48AM
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Thanks for your response.

I know TimberTech is often recommended on this board, but if I google that, it seems to have issues with mold also. Does anyone have first hand experience with that? Also, is it significantly more expensive than Trex?

I don't think I understand John's statement about "acq material", but I think it means that the pressure treated lumber of today is not as good as it used to be? Are there certain brand names of pressure treated lumber which I should avoid or seek out?

Further comments and ideas are welcome.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 3:45PM
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I personly have never had a call back for mold with TT material,it is more spendy than t-junk for good reason.

Yes Marrilyn, the pt material of today is sub standard compaired to the pt known as cca. There is no way to stack up pt lumber side by side and decide what one to use, its all open right now, you just got to buy what is there local.It was a sad day when the left wing green mafia brought cca down and then went to the local La La vote for hillery faggg monkey room for a gin and tonic and tosted each other,driving back home in the new Beamer.

Side Note>>>Ipe is less $ than any high grade composite,less $ a lot if you figure in handrailGo Get Em Girl. J.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 6:50PM
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Ok. Thanks. That brings up another question. Why would I do the handrail in something different? I've seen that mentioned several times. Wouldn't the handrail be subject to the same problems as the floor?

Can anyone else weigh in on pressure treated vs. Trex?

Thanks, marrilyn

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 7:04PM
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There are other composites way better than trex at the same cost or less. Premier & Ameradeck to name a couple that I've worked with that I know do not mold. For the money I think Ameradeck is the best composite. It's got a hard surface that does not scratch up like the softer composites which imo is the biggest negative with most of the composites including even the high $ TT earthwood.

Like John said you can go with ipe for same $ as composites & ipe rails are less than composite rails. If you can afford a trex deck then you can afford an ipe deck.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 8:09PM
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I agree with the thoughts on Trex. TOTAL JUNK!! To me the jury is still out on other composites. I don't think they have been out on the market, exposed to the elements long enough to know for sure what they will be like. Hardwood decks can be more labor intensive to install but the looks far outweigh anything else for longevity. If you sit down and price hardwood/composites, you will be surprised how close they are.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 7:23AM
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If you are trying to save money you should not go with composites. I won't even install composite decks just because they always seem to produce call backs with problems. I just installed a tiger wood deck and it came out awesome. It ended up costing the customer about $2,000.00 less then ipe on a 850 square foot deck.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 10:51AM
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We use pure PVC decking all the time, it has no problems with mold. Azek Deck and Veka Deck are the brands.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2008 at 9:03PM
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Our Trex deck is going on 4 years old now. It doesn't look all that different than when we installed it. The wear has been minimal.

Which way is your deck going to face? If it is facing North, I would say you will have a mold problem. It needs the sun to dry it out after a rain. Our deck faces west and the only place we ever get mildew is in the northern section of the deck. Even so, a once a year scrubbing with a bleach solution ($3.00) is enough to take care of it. Our cedar rails have been more of a problem (splitting and pealing).

I would never again have PT deck. Last summer my DD got two slivers (on two separate occasions) on my sister's PT deck. If you could have heard her howl when we tried to remove them!

You can walk barefoot on our composite deck with no worries. It also stays cooler than our old PT deck.

Our homes are about 20 years old. Any neighbor I know that has replaced their deck have done it with composite.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 11:25AM
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In the ever present starving need to serve the Public trex announced it had a better-than-anticipated sales in the begining of the fourth quarter.This news follows an announcment earlier in November that trex was sttting aside $45 million to pay for replcement of defective decking manufactured from 2003 to 2006.

After paying off securaty vilotations,and a Class action trex seems to be planing ahead this time. John

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 12:26PM
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One thing that does not get mention is that composite is much hotter on your feet if it is in the sunlight(or pets feet).

Our neighbors have composite and it is demon hot in Wisconsin in the summer (south facing)

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 5:02PM
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Well, after a fair amount of research, I am leaning more and more toward PTL. The "better" composites are too pricey and still seem to carry a certain amount of risk, as they are new to the market. The price of hardwood is more than I want to spend as well.

I've seen two composite decks in my neighborhood, one Trex and the other was Lowe's brand; both had black mold growing all over them. I realize these are both lower quality composites.

I just want a decent deck, doesn't have to be the best deck ever, and I don't want it to be nicer/more expensive than the inside rooms of my house. :)

I'm still open to suggestions and opinions, however.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 11:15AM
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How about pt pine 5/4 x6'' decking,garapa hand rail system with black alum balusters.Just plan on a little sanding with the decking when the uprising starts.

Some Folks dont see any reason to spend say hmmmmm $6000 on a deck, "its just a deck out there and I am not going to spend that kind of money for it, thats completly out of line, those guys are just trying to rip me off,my Folks got the same size thing built in the back for $1500, I would do it my self if I had the time on a spare weekend"

Just a few thoughts mixed in togerther from things I hear every week.If you want quality oats you have to pay a quality price, but if you dont mind oats that have been thru the horse one time Lets Make A Deal!!!

Keep in mind Marrilyn,the pay back for a well done outdoor area is from 80 to 100 %,thats better than kichten or bathrooms. Its been that way for 10 years or so. John

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 7:38PM
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Marrilyn -

We faced the same predicament in our new home & went round round for quite some time before finally making a decision. We went w/ cedar & had the deck built just under a year ago & are quite pleased. We know others who are quite pleased with their cedar decks that are several years older than ours. Why not consider this as an option? It's slightly more than PT, but less than the composites & with reliable performance history.

Just a thought -

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 11:34AM
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After much research, we built with Correctdeck CX . That is the relatively new mold resistant version. We live on the peninsula south of San Francisco, CA, about five miles from the ocean so we get lots of moisture, even in the summer. and it does freeze in the winter.

We have oak and eucalyptus trees near the deck that shed leaves (the euc. stains) and get lots of bird droppings, raccoon tracks, etc. We also get two large labs who visit. After about eight months, the deck looks great. During the summer we got black spots in a large area but realized it was from the oak. They washed off with plain water, as does everything else. The dogÂs nails do not scratch. You definitely can scratch this material (itÂs harder than other composites though) but it takes an effort. So just put pads on the bottom of your metal chairs.

Some worry about the shiny surface of CX. As the website tells you, that shine all but disappears in a few months. It has a sleight sheen, about the level of satin paint.

For the railings, we used the correct deck posts, then their dimensional lumber for the rails, and aluminum powder coated balusters. Our aim was minimum intrusion on the view, and it worked.

We love the deck. Yes, in direct sun it can get hot but since the color is gray, less so then the previous dark wood deck. It feels wonderful under your feet. Everyone remarks on how great it looks.

If we were money-heavy, we would have gotten Ipe and had people in once a year to re-stain and treat it. As it is, weÂre quite happy with the result.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 12:56PM
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John--not sure what you mean by "sanding when the uprising starts"?

I wish I could get a coomposite deck for $6000! I'm looking at a lot more than that for the PTL. Nor do I think anyone is trying to rip me off or that I could do it myself. :)

All real estate is local--really don't think I could get 100% back in this area, even 80% sounds high.

chez--thanks for the input about the cedar. What are the advantages of that over the PTL? Are there any drawbacks?

banana--I would love to do the Correct Deck CX. The price is just too much for me.

Our deck will be about 670 square feet in a really shady area. It will be covering an area of my yard in which I can get nothing to grow, so I kind of consider it landscaping as well. It faces west, but as I said, gets lots of shade. We are in the midwest, and get all kinds of weather.

I appreciate the input,

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 12:53PM
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Marrilyn its a good thing you are thinking this project thru.

Sanding with a pt deck= taking down the splinters that will happen in a short time thus the uprising. Cedar is just too soft its pron to mildew/rot x100 the material we are using now.

The adverage pay back for a well done outdoor project in the good ol USA is around 90% done done local shochal thats the way its been and still is. In the define of outdoor project the numbers come from decks However.. if you decide to do a stone/brick patio the numbers could still be in that range depending on the look and of course the pro install.

670 sq ft,2' off the ground,one exit stairway,railing all around encluding the stairs,cedar skirting with cross ventalation, garapa decking and rail system with black alum balusters on 8'' centers,router detail on cap rail and endgrain trim,one coat twp finish, all clean up,turn key contract,good access and ell hook up,15 miles from my Shop. $12,730 or $19 a sq ft.

Buget deal,no endgrain trim or skirting,no clean up,no sanding,no finish, trim nail/construstion adhesive deck fastining( not ss screws > same garapa decking but garapa 1x3 balusters $8040 or $12 a sq ft. Feb 2008 deal defently jump on this its not all that good a time right now in a few moons the price is going up big time.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 8:25PM
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Sheesh, John, if you were around here, I'd hire you!

My deck will actually be elevated 4-6 feet, part of it will have the boards running length wise, then there will be a step down and the rest will have the boards running horizontally. Not sure what you mean by skirting, but right now we plan to have it open underneath. It won't be a big rectangle, part of it will have kind of diagonal corners--kind of like a hexagon. (Hope that all makes sense).

The garapa is a hardwood right? But not as high quality as ipe? Am I correct in saying that it doesn't splinter, warp or mold? What is the maintenance?

Thanks for your continued help.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 10:39AM
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Garapa is a S. American hardwood do a google.

Very stable stuff,klin dried,all heartwood,smooth working, I havent seen any splinter/warping problems,same maintenance as ipe,mold will grow on anything outside not taken care of. Now far as being lower quality than ipe.....No I dont agree with that,its just a different tree. Ipe kicked in the door for the S American lumber but there are many kinds of trees over there that make outstanding projects. John

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 2:38PM
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The garapa looks very interesting - we prefer the lighter brown / honey color of garapa over the deeper brown / reds of Ipe. My question is this, can it be fastened with glue and clips or am I just asking for trouble. Also, is the 4/4 stiff enough over 16" centers or go for the 5/4.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 5:36PM
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1x6'' or 3/4 x 51/2'' garapa is plenty strong over 16'' on center joists with a corectley built frame.

I am not a big fan of the clips,we face fasten using ss screws/adhesive.

Latley I am somewhat impressed by the tiger claw clips being used with TimberTech pregrouved earth wood but I havent tried them. J.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 6:12PM
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