Deck material for a mountain home with lots of sun AND snow!

shinobuApril 14, 2007

Well after scouring lumberyards and opinions off of this site and from fellow homeowners in the area ... I am now even more confused about what kind of decking to use. I have a chalet/log cabin type of home and live in the Tahoe area and I'm rebuilding three old small decks, all of which could possibly be completely covered with snow for the entire winter. Two of the decks will also get some pretty intense sun in the summer. I definitely want a lower maintenance product but I'm now a little scared of composites from all the bad reviews - however, since the air is really dry here would mold be a problem? What kind of material or wood would hold up the best in these mountain conditions and still look pretty good? I'd definitely prefer a natural (or at least natural-looking) material and I don't mind doing some once-a-year maintenance but nothing more than that.

Please help! Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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xterra

shinobu, we live in south lake tahoe, just completed a deck around 2 sides of our house. we replaced a redwood deck and then some, tore down substructure and started from the ground up. we researched all the usual suspects. we decided against trex for several reasons. several friends used trex, and within a couple of years had to replace decking, got involved in warrante issues, but trex eventually offered to replace material only. redwood was considered briefly,but decided against because existing was redwood and was only 15 years old.

we decided to go with ipe, bought it in sacramento at berco redwood, paid 2.20 lf. they delivered. I built it myself, finished in october,berco replaced several sticks, probably my fault because wood sat outside for a while.I am waiting for warm weather to sand and seal,but it came out beautiful.we surface screwed, cleaned the snow off all winter. we plan to use tps 116 and see how much work it will be to maintain, if too much we will let it go to silver.part of the back deck is about a foot off the ground, good drainage underneath, runoff from the roof when snow melts not a problem. no mold, no cupping. bottom line epi a good choice. If your in the area, your welcome to come take a look at it. A bit of a learning curve, but it worked out well. one thing though, I originally got some bids from local contractors, most never heard of ipe, and the ones that did charged double the price to install.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 7:30PM
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shinobu

Xterra - thank you so much for the great response. I was beginning to lean towards Ipe so I was glad to read your post. We're getting our entire house remodeled (I'm in North Lake Tahoe) so I'll see if our contractor knows anything about Ipe installation and then go from there. Does your deck hold up to snow well? I was wondering how much it would wear if we eventually have one of those 20-feet-of-snow-in-one-storm winters again and I don't clear the snow off. But I'm guessing any other material short of plastic will take a beating. Did your deck gray quite a bit over the winter?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 11:32PM
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xterra

we built the substructure 16 on center,2x10 joists and 1in ipe.I am pretty confident you can put as much snow as falls on the deck as long as the structure is built strong. where we are at our snow load is 160 per sq. foot. our deck is 40x8 along the side and 38x12 across the back. runs at the highest 4ft, sloping to 1ft at the back. when you walk on the deck, it doesnt bounce at all. I hired a couple of framers to help with the structure, and did the ipe myself. I am getting ready to put on a stainless steel cable railing. I had several bids to put the decking on,and was over 3 grand for that.

We are very happy with the ipe, and are glad we used it. for everything so far we have about 9 thousand in the project including materials. I figure the railing about 2 thousand in materials and I will supply the labor. The deck did grey somewhat, but not too much. even grey, it looks great. I will stain it because I really like the look. we will see how much maint. it will take to stay that way.I am willing to spend a day or 2 every year to keep it looking good.
Bob

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 1:10AM
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martin_carthage

I wouldn't rule out composites completely. There are many good choices. Ipe is good wood but isn't as earth-friendly as a composite in my opinion. And it requires more chemical maintenance than a composite.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 6:33PM
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john_hyatt

Martin and I usually agree.

Say a person builds an ipe deck and it lasts hmmmm 30 years,of course there are a lot of ipe projects looking good after three times those years, but say 30 years in that time period a preasure treated project will have been torn out and replaced at least 6 times,cedar/redwood at least 3 times. Composite, the jury is still out far as replacement goes as a whole however a lot of Folks are replacing trex or wanting to after 6 months and have been right after the t-junk came on line.Anyway,is it more earth friendly to build one time or 6 to 3 times.

Keeping composites clean and mold free requires a lot of chemical maintenance,not to mention the water/energy/oil/transportation/ raw material ( there are not enough plistic bags to make this stuff,most of the material used in composite now days is virgin ) waste disposal just to get it to the store and of course composite is not real quick to break down at the landfill so lets add that in.

If half what that poster had to say about cleaning composite is true we are all in violation using most anything thats sold.

Just my opinion of course. J

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 8:55PM
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shinobu

Thanks of the info guys. I've pretty much ruled out composites, since I met another local who had a horrible experience with Trex - I think a composite deck would require just as much maintenance as a wood deck in this area. If I can't go with Ipe, for cost reasons, what would be the next best material? I know it won't last as long, but since my house is basically cedar, I'm starting to think cedar decks would be more in my budget. But I can dream of Ipe...

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 5:31PM
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john_hyatt

Dont be so quick to pull the triger on ipe,even the second growth cedar/redwood we are using now is not all that less $ than ipe,the instlation takes a little more time but the material itself might suprise you.

Like the Steve says>> do it right one time and cry one time or do it wrong and cry forever

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 6:38PM
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powdergrrl

Inquiring minds want to know ... did you opt for the ipe and how does it look now ~5 years later? What maintenance are you doing regularly on it? We're going through the same research for our decks in Tahoe so would love to hear your experience.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 8:33PM
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