Wood vs. Synthetic for new deck

I am new to this group, but have been in the aviation groups for years. First let me apologize if this has been discussed before, but I am needing some information fast.
We are in the north TX area and will be putting in a new deck. I have had a couple of the wood and pressurized treated decks but they require (too much) maintenance. The new synthetic decks are appealing, but I know nothing about them and what to expect. I have been looking at the manufacturer's websites, but they don't give me the real answer. Have these materials been out long enough to know how they will really be in 15 or 20 years? Are they really maintenance free? What does have to be done to them besides some periodic cleaning? When I talk to contractors what should I ask and which material is better? One contractor we have talked to does not like to install it because of the unknowns. He likes real wood. And, if I go with wood, suggestions please.
Lots of questions...
Who has installed the synthetic decks and are you happy?
Thanks in advance.
Ross
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I think the choices are wood, plastic, and composite [basically sawdust and plastic resins]. I don't have a lot of experience with synthetics.
Wood is cheapest but requires much maintenance. It's also subject to warping, splitting, splintering.
The other two will be more expensive up front but the maintenance is much almost nil -- and they won't warp, split, or splinter. I think the lifespan is longer than wood and there's really nothing needed besides period cleaning.
One thing I've heard about the plastic is that it retains heat more than wood or composite -- not good for bare feet.
I can't speak authoritatively on brands. When talking to contractors it always seems best to start from square one, what are the options. A good contractor will take the time to go through everything.
I don't know how much help this has been, but it's all I got. :)
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This is sort of out in left field, but I can recall previous discussions about the synthetics which said some tend to be "springy" and that the "on-center" distance needs to be reduced. Having raised the issue, I'm sure someone will have a more authoritative source than my memory
On Tue, 29 Mar 2005 20:02:01 -0600, Ross and Paula Richardson

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SOME wood is cheaper, other woods are 50% more Depends on what you want. PT pine, cypress, cedar, mahogany, ipe, etc.
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Ross Go with the synthetic. I insalled this 8 years ago. On west side, Much hot sun. Can walk on it barefoot, smooth no splinters. I feed lots of birds. If they poop on it, rain washes it clean. I did the rails and uprights with same material. I did not want to do costly,messy, sealing on deck every year. Deck is 12 feet above a cement patio and is 13 x 42 feet in size. This would have been a difficult job to seal. I used Choice Deck but I think there are nicer looking products out now. Google for all brands. Warren
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This is what I'll be using on the deck at my home. Of course I'll have to get a second job to pay for it, but it lasts a long damn time from everyting I have read...............and it has a great appearance too.
http://advantagelumber.com/decking2.htm
Might just use some different fasteners than their "special" ones though...............Haven;t decided just yet.
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The fasteners are not cheap, but not to have screws showing is certainly worth something extra. I've not priced it this year, but my local lumber yard had it a bit cheaper last year. Prices of wood have gone up quite a bit though.
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This is a multi-part message in MIME format. --------------010004050802040702040201 Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Guys, I appreciate all the comments. The ipe intrigues me. I will have to see how the contractors/landscapers cost one against the synthetic products. My wife is wanting a low maintainence deck. I have had the pressure treated deck and it did not last long at all. Boards warped, shrunk, split, and really looked bad.
Ross
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Regards,

Ross
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On Tue, 29 Mar 2005 20:02:01 -0600, Ross and Paula Richardson

I've heard of people buying synthetic and loving it till it failed the mayonnaise test. The story goes, the orginal manufactures tested the product against years of UV, bugs, walking traffic, but never tested it gainst bbq food. The mayonnaise fell on the deck, and the product sucked it up, and stained.
Now this was told to me third hand, but now that I've heard it, I would find out how synthetic stands up to food.
BTW, I like the idea of synthetic wood. Not the price.
later,
tom

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That would happen with real wood also. If you look on the Trex web page, they give some cleaning instructions and mention that some things may leave a stain.
http://www.trex.com/Universal/product_info/workingwithtrex/careandcleaning.asp
Like wood, it is also possible to paint the deck at any time.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Interesting about the mold cleaning. I thought that these materials didn't support mold. I guess it is the media on the deck that grows the mold? I suspect that you would have all the same problems with natural wood.
Ross
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Ross
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I would view this mostly as a trade off of asthetics versus maintenance and durability. Properly maintained natural wood will always look better. The Trex type material doesn't look as good, but doesn't require maintenance and will last a lot longer. It has been used here at the NJ shore boardwalks in spots for a decade and has held up very well in that tough environment. Cost is also a factor, but that can vary widely too depending on what kind of wood you happen to like, and of course how long you expect it to last.
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<previous discussion snipped>
I saw this "wood" at the last Homebuilders Show in Las Vegas. They made huge decks of it. They made some in sections.
My job is fork lift operator. I had to slide some of these together for assembly. Upon close, I had to pull some apart for disassembly. BTW, they threw away TONS of the stuff, but I was too low on the food chain to get any of it.
Point is, a 3,500# capacity Toyota forklift had to strain to lift a couple of the sections. The stuff is awesome, and looks great.
I would buy it in a heartbeat for a deck, even at its cost. You build it, and it is there. You don't have to do much, except, I would imagine, pressure wash it occasionally.
I would think, though, because of the weight, one would have to pay strict attention to the supports in the ground so they wouldn't settle, and perhaps build some type of ability to readjust it to allow for settling. That wouldn't be too hard, just hydraulic jack it up, and reshim.
We are in the throes of remodeling, and may still use some of it for a couple of projects.
Steve
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"Ross Richardson" <Interesting about the mold cleaning. I thought that these materials didn't support mold. I guess it is the media on the deck that grows the mold? I suspect that you would have all the same problems with natural wood.
Ross
I guess they won't contribute to it, but if the spores happen to land on the deck along with whatever they need for life, it will grow on it.
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I have used the synthetic wood to build a "porch" for My Uncle. He had a cheapy metal stairway to his door and wanted a landing of sorts. He bought the stuff so I have no idea what cost was involved.
Building was pretty simple and cutting was as easy as with any wood decking would have been. I drilled and countersunk everything on it so it would stay together and not stick up and catch his shoes as he walked on it. ( He's mostly blind) Anyway, In my estimation the product is simply plastic with wood filler or something that mimics sawdust anyway.....................Very sturdy stuff , fairly thin. I don;t care for the look. As far as solid,.............it's pretty decent. The porch was over engineered so there was no chance of it being weak in any way at all.
Gotta watch it. A drill with too much power will drive right through extremely easy. I did just that with my first shot. After that I tuned my skills to match the product and was very careful not to do it again
All in all I give it a thumbs up, but would not choose it over wood products of any kind. It just didn;t "feel" as good as wood............for lack of any other real description.
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As I am reading some of the literature from the manufacturers, I believe they say this stuff is only for the decking and not the supports and substructure, is that correct? What do you use in this case?
From the feedback I get the feeling that the material is better that wood for maintenance, but not for looks or "feel".
Again, thanks for your inputs.
Ross
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You're right, And I should have mentioned that only the decking part was of the Synthetic material. I used treat 4x4's and 2x4's for the frame. Like I said, it was over engineered big time. The porch was only a little over 4' square top, and about 40" high. His house is a trailer house, so it's pretty high up and he was having trouble with opening the door into himself and his dogs as he tried to enter. hence the need for the landing/porch.
I used "DECKMATE" brand coated screws and I think they were all 4" screws. The whole thing took about 4 hours to build and install. I installed the porch, then two sets of steps to either side, and a railing so he wouldn;t just step off the outside edge without knowing he was too close. He was Just ecstatic about having the sybthetic lumber. I think he had in mind that it was safer than plain wood. It had a pretty rough surface, kinda like it had sand in the mix on the surface............like I said, he's pretty much blind, so this was important to him.
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This is true. I was speaking from experience, where home owners want miracles worked after 5+ years of neglect.
I should've been clearer -- the run-of-the-mill deck wood is cheap and doesn't stand up to the elements over time.
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