What decking/floor material is on your deck/porch?

dorry2June 3, 2012

Please share your opinions about your choice in flooring for your screened porch and/or deck. Need to get some input, opinions so I can make the right decision.

Adding a screened porch to summer home, humid environment, hot, wooded lot, north and east facing exposure of the porch..typical mid-atlantic summers! I would like to know how your flooring has held up in these conditions, if it splinters, stains, needs as much maintenance as pressure-treated wood, which was promoted years ago as "maintenance-free," which we all know, nothing is maintenance free. I do want something that is LOW maintenance. I realize all options have pros and cons, but would love to hear from you GWebbers.

Thank you so much. Hoping this post gets some replies. Previous post has not been answered.

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Bought houses with Pressure treated and cedar decks. Recently changed current deck to IPE.

Summary of experience & research:
1) Cedar is soft and subject to mildew. Poor deck choice. Will have short life. Eventually stepping through deck boards convinced me to replace!
2) Pressure treated: The old standard. Cheap to put in, relatively cheap to replace if needed. Vulnerable to carpenter bees(a real problem here). Being porous PT wood, accepts stain well. Can use without stain, but life shorter, greys and develops surface cracks
3) straight plastics. Best spill & stain resistance. No splinters. Get soft in high heat, high expansion/contraction with temperature can lead to sag/wavy. Need joists 12" apart or less to avoid excess sponginess. Minimum maintenance required. Like everything, color fades with sun exposure over time. Unlike wood products, can not renew color by restaining.
4) plastic+sawdust products(e.g.Trex). Stronger and stiffer than straight plastic. Originally claimed low maintenance. After class action lawsuits by deck owners, manufacturers have backed off claim. Mildew eats out sawdust leaving spongy plastic which disintegrates. Most of these products now recommend regular cleaning to prevent mildew growth. Newer versions have external solid plastic wrap to try to prevent mildew. Would not buy until at least 5 year track record of these newer products surviving without mildew or other disintegration problems.

5) IPE. Tough, strong, fire resistant, resist carpenter bees. Difficult to cut, screw(need to predrill and use stainless steel screws) increases installation work. Theoretically, very long life. Can be left unstained (like everything else, sun will turn it grey eventually). In order to keep attractive wood color, regular staining is required. Does not take stain well. Need special tropical hardwood stains. Need to restain more frequently than PT wood.
Subject to discoloration by spills/stain if finish wears off or leave unfinished.
6) Other tropical hardwoods. Generally either same as or inferior to IPE in function. Worth considering if want different look than IPE.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 10:47AM
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My deck is on a roof top in NYC - very exposed to sun and weather. The original decking was made from 2x4 cedar (unsealed), carefully nailed (no dimples, please) and lasted 15 years. PT structure underneath is 20 years old..
Replaced decking 6 years ago with Luan Mahogany secured with ribbed stainless steel nails, predrilled; some SS screws. Did not seal it and it still looks great - grey silver. Very little movement in the wood and very solid.

IPE would be nice but very expensive to buy and install.

There are three other decks on the same building. One was stained and sealed cheap HD cedar - 8 years old and still blotchy. One with good cedar which was coated (awful - peeled right off); this was subsequently sanded and seasoned fine after that. The last was also Luan Mahogany which was sealed but after one year looks just like my deck. Don't get sealing, staining, or coating.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 9:48PM
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Thanks to all! I am gravitating toward using the Azek. The porch will back up to woods, will receive some sun (faces NE). One priority is I want a decking that allows a tight fit with no gaps (or very minimal) between the slats (hope using the correct terminology)! I have seen some new porches in the area and many of the composites appear to have a slight space between the boards/slats. Also, do most builders put screen or a dense fabric under the decking? A must for us since we will be near (actually, literally, five feet from the woods) and I would expect lots of bugs, spiders, etc.

Do you prefer the wood-plastic composites better than the all composite, like Azek?

What about ceilings? Do you prefer the beaded vinyl soffit like ceilings vs. wood? This is what most of the contractors are using in this neighborhood.

Thanks for your input.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 12:29PM
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