YIKES! All Decked out!

linda117117July 9, 2009

Can someone sum this up for me? I've been reading so much on this forum, I think I've totally confused myself. We are in the planning stages of a deck. We thought we were going with one of the composites but after reading everything on this site, I think we've pretty much ruled it out. So now, WHAT is the world is Garapa? I think I've figured out that IPE is some sort of Hardwood, but then, why isnt it just called hardwood or mahogony, brazillian cherry etc?

Looking at costs, what is the order of this stuff? PT,Composite, IPE, Garapa?

We're not looking for top of the line, but something better than a PT deck that will splinter in 5 years. What do you deck experts recommend?

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Garapa is another South American hardwood. It has many of the benefits of Ipe but can be a little less expensive. Ipe is a hardwood that has excellent properties for a deck. To confuse you more, there are a couple more of the South American Hardwoods that I cannot spell right now.

My research led me to go with a hardwood and I went with Ipe because it was readily available the not that more expensive than Garapa. Ipe Prices around here (Ca) are about.

4/4 x6 $2.55 lineal ft
5/4x6 $3.39 lineal ft

We used 4/4 on 16" center and it has no bounce at all. I would do it again.

Some composited were cheaper but the better ones such as Timbertech and Azek were more expensive. Be real careful on which composite you select if you go that way. Some companies are going out of business (bankrupt) others have class action lawsuits against them etc...

The disadvantage of Ipe is its harder on saw blades and drill (wears them out a little faster) Its heavy, but so are the composites and it should be screwed down. The other thing with Ipe is the stain does not absorb much so you will either have to stain it more often or let it go silver.

The best thing about the hardwoods is they are the real thing! Composites try to copy that look and to me look plasticy.

All materials will require some maintenance. Some more than others

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 10:41AM
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South American hardwood means Brazilian Rainforest.
There's alot of wood workers on here that couldn't care less about that.
Composites like Trex are recycled #2 bags, won't warp, splinter, crack, or anything else you see wood decks do.It loves the rain, unlike wood. Readily available at lumber yards and the big box stores have staked their reputation on it. Light maintenance, NEVER any sealing, staining, or writing posts about MY DECK TURNED BLACK or I SEALED MY DECK A WEEK AGO AND IT'S STICKY.

Now let's see if the wood workers can be civil, after all these are the people that you might hire.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 4:54PM
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I too installed an Ipe deck last year and went through the same analysis you are going through. If cost is the driving force then Pine is cheapest following probably by Cedar then Garapa then Ipe & Quality Composites are at the upper end of the scale.

The Composite/Hardwood decision is really a matter of preference. Hardwoods take a little work to keep them stained (or you can let them silver if that is the route you choose, but most people stain as it is too pretty to let go silver). Composites also take some work as most of them need to be cleaned annually as well, but my guess is the maintenance of these is minimal to the hardwoods.

The other factor that I considered, and I am not anti-Composite, is the fact that there are numerous complaints/issues with some composites that deal with everything from mildew spots, premature failure, color fading, etc. Some, or maybe all, of these issues may have been worked out by some manufacturers, but the issues are out there. On the flip side of this I know, and have heard of many many people who are very pleased with their composite deck and wouldn't trade it for the world.

In the end I chose Ipe because I wanted wood. If that wasn't a factor I might have chosen a composite and not looked back, but I would of least done so knowing there were some risks involved with that decision.

Hope that helps. Good luck.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 5:34PM
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This fagmonkey is a local troll over here just keep that in mind. There is no being civil with you fool you dont know what your keying in is stupid.Forget the caps there is no reason to shout.

Its not the Loggers that are the problem in S America its the slash burners. If you really want to help out over there sercer,what ever the hell that means, you should go on over there and help out the natives just trying to stay alive. No Guts No Glory Fool, get your routered outass off the comp chair and get over there to see the Real World and what you can to to fix it.

For a quick grin google up trex problems,or just use the search area on this site.

On the flip side there are two manmade products I can recomend>> TimberTech and Moisture Shield Put up or shut up dude. Jon Mon

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 5:51PM
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Now I ask you, Linda, is that what you want on your premises?

At least you received some positive comments about composites from me. No positive wood comments from the wood-worker.

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 4:35AM
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How is it Trex could sell $329 million of decking and railings in 2008 while having an inherant problem with the material?
How is it Home Depot and Lowes (as well as independent lumber yards) place their reputation on the line by carrying Trex?
Instead of depleting the Amazonian Rainforest of hardwoods, Trex recycles 1.3 billion grocery bags to make its material.
The Washington Post reports that the company is "counting on rotting wood decks and a growing interest in green products to help it maintain its growth trend."

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 5:04AM
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I had a Trex deck in former house and much preferred it over the pressure treated we tore down (which was a maintenance nightmare).

Although, the Trex did require us to "stay on it" to prevent it from staining. Perhaps they've fixed the issue, but if you leave anything such as a leaf on it for too long, it stained.

Staying on it for us meant to keep it swept clean. We also had a paver patio and, to be honest, that took less time to maintain than the Trex.

Another family member has a large Trex deck and hates it. Being in a heavily treed area, it's stained beyond stained. Not sure if / how they've tried cleaning it but they don't like it at all and now want a patio.

When we moved, we installed a combo paver & stone patio - no wood / composite of any sort and have loved it ever since. I spend about 30 minutes a year to keep it up. Being in the northeast, we only get about 6 full months on it anyways.

No experience or advice on real hardwood but I can only imagine they look great and, with anything, requires some sort of maintenance.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 7:15AM
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Thank you to all who replied.

Salmon you answered my OP exactly how I asked for it to be answered and I got some good clarification. I will check into IPE also if its not that much more expensive. I'm going to add another post asking for deck pictures all in one place, please post yours.

Riles, I'm pretty much in agreement with you. Im also not Anti composite, but have heard enough negative publicity about it. That coupled with the fact that it isnt anything that I love the look of, it was easy to look for something else.

Srercrcr, my only experience with composite decking is my sisters deck who put it on when trex was fairly new around here. (Maybe 10 years ago). She isnt totally happy with it. I'm sure they have improved their initial problems, I simply don't like the look of it, my husband wanted it because he thought it was maintaince free. Since I am the one who does the staining and cleaning of it anyway, he looses that argument :)

John Hyatt, you seem to be the resident deck builder on this board. I would have gotten more out of your post if you actually answered my questions instead of insulting another poster. I dont know the history of you two and I dont care. You have alot of information, there are people here who would love to hear what you have to say without the name calling.

Don't know, the deck is a 2nd story deck and cannot be concrete or pavers, but the bottom level will be. Please post your pictures in the new thread.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 8:43AM
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I tell you Linda...all the facts can be completley in view with a very short little click on t=junk. All the facts you need on S American lumber have also been posted.

Far as name calling goes take your choice Girl. JonMon

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 7:37PM
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John took the bait. I laughed when I saw the post and "said here we go"

Bottom line, If you want to go with a composite, avoid trex. Most contractors I know like Timbertech, occasionally Correctdeck ? I think. I do oot know anything about "Moisture shield" as they do not have a big distribution here in CA. Here's the deck I have just about finished. It was built with Ipe

From deck

Here is a link with the before and after: In progress

Hint: Pay attention to John (when he has not been baited - John - I think that guy does it for fun) and the pros - they help quite a few people (including your truly)

Here is a link that might be useful: In progress

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 11:14PM
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Thanks Man,I needed that reality slap, I will just ignore the fool from now on. J.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 9:48AM
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salmon slayer (great name by the way) I LOVE LOVE LOVE your decking. What stain did you use? And is there only one type of IPE? I'm not sure if this is the same deck that was posted with the woman staining on her hands and knees, but I loved that color too. This is exactly what I am looking for. This color decking and the iron railing. (that is iron isnt it?)

Did you brush the stain on or do it with a rag or sponge?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 10:22AM
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Linda, we used Messners UV natural color stain. We live in CA so we probably get a version that's not as good as the rest of the world. To apply, I bought a staining pad at HD and put it on a pole. After it sat for a little bit, i went back over it with a rag to make sure no puddles etc. It went pretty quick. This was applied a week ago so I have no personnel experience on how it will hold up. I have a coworker who has uses it on his Ipe deck and said he puts on a new coat every year or two and it looks fine. I have not seen his deck.

The railing is powder coated aluminum. It will not rust. The house is ~1 mile from the ocean. Iron lasts 6 months to a year around here before rust takes over

You have a few choices when you get Ipe. You can buy 4" or 6" widths and either 4/4 or 5/4 thickness. For 4/4 thickness you want the joists 16" apart unless you are laying the wood on a diagonal, then its 12" For the thicker 5/4 material, I think you can go up to 24" for laying the material staight over the joist and 16" on the diagonal (I am not 100% sure on the 5/4) We put in the 4/4 x 6" on the deck and it is solid.

You will also find many options to fasten down the material. We opted to use the stainless steel screws and "face" screw based upon the recommendation of the pros here. We used a size 8 screw but understand now we could have used a size 7 (a little smaller diameter and length) The screws come with a small head that is painted the color of the Ipe. It works out nicely and mitigates some of the other issues that people have found with alternative fasteners.

I found the material takes a bit more time to work with than other options, but you get a beautiful product in the end. One that has proven itself to stand the test of time. I have used redwood in the past on decks and while nice, they were not nearly as "finished" as the Ipe.

Make sure you buy a few extra drill bits as the material does dull the bits and my "helpers" all managed to break a few (including yours truly)

One last thing, we "plugged" the handrails to hide the screws. That worked out perfect and I would recommend that to everyone. For me, plugging the entire deck would have taken way too much time for the benefit.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 11:15AM
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Wow, salmon slayer, awesome deck!

Any experience out there w/some of the other Brazilian hardwoods? When I mention "IPE" to contractors that have come out, they start mentioning "very expensive", more maintenance, etc.

They all have used it extensively b/c I've seen their photos of previous projects. Not sure if it's because my budget is too small or b/c I tell them I don't want too much maintenance. (Staining/sealing every 2-3 yrs max). So far, people are pointing me towards stained/sealed PT or composites.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 11:46PM
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thanks, I'm not sure why Ipe would be more expensive than composites. In my area, its comparably priced. You do have to predrill the hardwoods which makes it take a bit longer to install. I am not sure if you have to with the composites.
I would go with a composite before pressure treated. I just can't see going through all the work to frame a deck and then use PT as the main surface. If you can, spend the extra money, it is going to (or should if properly built with good materials) last a long time.....

I would look into garapa if Ipe is too expensive. Or build it yourself!


    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 12:07AM
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