More on wood plastic composites vs. PVC decking

Wood plastic composite? Cellular PVC? Or, the new combination product called TimberTech Earthwood Essentials? We can help you make the choice.

Timbertech XLM - Sand Ridge and Mountain Cedar border
Timbertech XLM - Sand Ridge and Mountain Cedar border

One of our most popular blog posts last year was my post about wood plastic composites vs. PVC decking. For most of us, we will likely only have a deck, patio, porch or sunroom built onto the back of our house once or twice. If you’ve started to do any research on decking materials, you know that there are what seems like too many choices. On top of that, no single choice easily stands out as the best.

Well, you are not alone. This is what I do all day long and I feel the same way. The number and types and brands of products on the market are constantly growing and improving. So even my knowledge today is greatly expanded over last year because of the sheer speed of growth and change and product introductions with composite and PVC decking materials.

Azek Harvest Series - Brownstone
Azek Harvest Series - Brownstone Color

When I wrote the last post, you had to decide between composite or PVC. The latest product combines the best of both worlds. There is a new product called a wrapped or capped product that is a wood plastic composite with a PVC wrapped cap. In short, it’s cellular PVC on the outside and wood composite on the inside. Why is this the best of both worlds? Well, PVC has some advantages over straight composites – namely the fain and stain resistance. Although composites have strong protection against fade and stain, they do not compare to cellular PVC. On the other hand, solid PVC products are more expensive but the greatest benefit is having the PVC on the outside. So, a capped product really is the best of both worlds.

TimberTech Earthwood Essentials Deck
The completed TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions deck: A beautiful deck for a beautiful cause

Here’s what’s new on the market. TimberTech is one of the premier composite decking lines on the market – and for good reason. Not only are they based out of Columbus (great place to live) but they are very good at what they do. Their product is durable, strong, scratch resistant, mildew resistant and you do not need to paint, stain or seal it. It’s truly a low maintenance product. TimberTech stands behind their product with a 25 year warranty.

TimberTech has a PVC product line called TimberTech XLM. It’s a great product and I use it in my building quite a bit. As I said above, a solid PVC product is more expensive than a solid wood composite.

In the past, two things were not covered in the warranty of TimberTech’s wood plastic composites – stain and fade protection. Cellular PVC has the ultimate stain and fade resistance so the new TimberTech capped product called TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions has the best of both worlds.

It would be easy if the physical characteristics and warranty were the only factors to consider when choosing a decking material. But, after we make an intellectual decision, we then need to make the aesthetic decision. Every company’s composite or PVC line has different colors. And, from company to company those colors are different. We all know that what one company calls gray or tan is different than what another company calls gray or tan. Have you ever tried to pick out a shade of taupe at Home Depot or Lowes? I did this recently. Once I spent 30 minutes trying desperately to pick the best taupe out of the 39 shades of taupe, then I realized the next company had their 49 shades of taupe.

Columbus paver patio deck and landscaping
Columbus paver patio deck with landscaping customer design drawing

When picking color on composite or PVC decking, it’s a little bit easier. You won’t find 39 or 49 shades of each color. There will be a handful of total colors to choose from. And, yes, one company’s version of a color will be different than another company’s version. To make the decision a little more complex, the composite companies are now getting much more adept at adding the design characteristics that make these materials look more real – things like streaks.

Thinking about making this decision is probably making you tired. But, it’s good time and energy. Your composite or PVC deck is going to last 25 – 30 years or more – warrantied!  And that’s what I’m here to help you with. I have no allegiance to any of the companies. I work with TimberTech, Azek, Fiberon Horizon and other composite and PVC brands. I will bring you samples to touch and feel and compare. After reading this blog and touching and feeling the products, you will likely have a fairly good idea about what you want.

Michael Reeder, Archadeck of Columbus
Michael Reeder, Archadeck of Columbus

Give me a ring to talk about your next outdoor project. My consultation is free and you can tell I love what I do and discussing the merits of the various materials as well as discussing the pros and cons of the different structure choices. I can help you with deciding whether a screened porch, deck, patio, or sunroom is the best fit for you. I can give you guidance for making your choice on the materials. And Archadeck stands behind what we do with our own warranty. When you work with me, you get a design rendering of exactly what your project will look like. I like no surprises and a consultative selling approach so that’s what I give my customers.

A Deck/Patio Combo in Columbus turns out to be just what the Doctor Ordered

Archadeck of Columbus pairs together a deck and patio combination that suits these Columbus, Ohio homeowners to a “T”.

Columbus paver patio deck and landscaping
Columbus paver patio deck and landscaping

Here at Archadeck of Columbus, we recently completed a deck for this homeowner in Gahanna which is located in Columbus, Ohio. This customer decided to install a deck and patio combination because they liked the idea of having two different living areas and having adjoining seating areas to enjoy throughout the season.

Patios can be installed in the Columbus area from about March 15th until the first freeze which is usually around mid-December. The ideal is to wait to begin a patio until March or early April to make sure the ground is not frozen, or in some cases muddy from melting snow or ice.

We constructed the deck using TimberTech XLM in beautiful “river rock” gray and used a cedar rail for a wonderful contrast. We completed the deck prior to the stairs because we wanted to make sure the stairs are all the same height.

Design rendering in detail

The upcoming patio will be oval on one corner and the other corner will be a straight rectangle to accommodate a small retaining wall. Due to the excavation that is necessary for the patio’s installation there will be excess soil that needs to be removed. In most cases we can use excavated soil as topsoil to create planting beds or an upgrade at a later date around the perimeter of a structure such as this patio. In the case of this customer, they wanted to add planting beds that they could go ahead and plant in now. This worked out perfectly for this customer. We will also be adding a spading edge to the planting beds and mulch.

Umbriano "Winter marvel"
Archadeck Columbus paver patio architectural Rendering
Archadeck Columbus paver patio architectural Rendering

The patio itself will be finished using Uni-lock Umbriano pavers. These are concrete pavers but are made to look contemporary, the end effect resembles slabs with a larger pattern. This type of paver has been quite popular in the Columbus area. The color these homeowners chose is “winter marvel” for the field area and the soldier course ( perimeter/border) is “midnight sky”. We anticipate this combination will be breathtaking when completed.

The choice to include a patio with the deck area is clearly a design that can be integrated into any landscape whether it is single or multi-level. Having multiple living areas is a growing trend. The two structures harmonize together beautifully.

If you are considering a deck, a patio or both, give Archadeck of Columbus a call and we can meet with you to discuss placement, design and materials. We can give your backyard that same harmony. Give us a ring for a free consultation (740) 879 – 3730
or email us at westcolumbus@archadeck.net.

Michael Reeder, Archadeck of Columbus
Michael Reeder, Archadeck of Columbus

Archadeck of Columbus and TimberTech Evolutions help pay it forward and get a lot back in return

Archadeck of Columbus donates to re-deck for Recreation Unlimited. A very rewarding experience for all who participated.

It is always a special opportunity when we are asked to give back to the community by helping a charitable organization. We really enjoy paying it forward by assisting our time and materials to help an organization like the one we recently helped on for Recreation Unlimited. Recreation Unlimited is a charity started by Dick Ruff in 1958 to provide recreational activities for people like himself with disabilities. Following the death of Dick Ruff in 1974 many community leaders such as Jimmy Crumm, local sportscaster and well-known face in the community with the local NBC station for many years, took the reins to make sure Dick’s dream would live on. Recreation Unlimited is located near Delaware and provides activities for developmentally and physically disabled individuals and those with health concerns. 

Busy at work on the re-decking for Recreation Unlimited

Paul Huttlin is the director of the  Recreation Unlimited facility. The facility had a 25-year-old deck adjacent to Lake Crumm. The deck itself overhangs  the lake for fishing at the facility. There is a shelter adjacent to the deck and an open gazebo. The deck encompassed roughly 1,200 square feet. Archadeck of Columbus’ volunteers were in charge of the re-decking. Two crews donated their time and labor to complete this job. Seth Micheal and Josh Kempf both did a phenomenal job on this deck. We also couldn’t have did it without the help of our wonderful guys at TimberTech, Craig Hyatt and Tony Groh. It took us about two days to finish the job and it was a very rewarding experience.

A few of our wonderful volunteers

We chose to use the incredible TimberTech product called Evolutions. Evolutions is a beautiful composite deck that represents a new age in decking. The Evolutions material has a 25 year no stain and no fade warranty. TimberTech is the first ever to offer this full 25 year warranty on a decking product and we were really excited about using it on this structure. The Evolutions is not as expensive as pure PVC decking boards. It also has a PVC cap that extends around the perimeter of the board. Evolutions comes in many earthwood colors. We chose to use the Pacific Rosewood for this deck and Pacific Walnut and Radiance for the rail. The material has black veining/streaking through it to make it look more exotic, with breathtaking results. We also used hidden fasteners on the new deck to continue that endless vision of beauty without seeing the “stuff that holds it together”.

Anytime we donate our time or materials to help an organization such as this we always come back getting a lot more out of it than we could ever put in it. Having the opportunity to work on a job with this much significance to the community just makes you feel good. It is on a different level than doing jobs on a day-to-day. We encourage everyone to donate their time and whatever they have to a worthy cause such as this and help “pay it forward” in your community it is always an experience you will remember for the rest of your lives.

The completed Evolutions deck: A beautiful deck for a beautiful cause

From Recreation Unlimited…

The Recreation Unlimited deck by the lake is a major focal point for camp activities.  The campers fish from the dock, do outdoor arts and crafts by the lake and use the deck for a picnic spot during the summer months. The original deck was very worn and needed repair or replacement.  The Timbertech donation of materials was perfect for the type of application needed, a quality surface and maintenance free.  If it wasn’t for Mike Reeder and Archadeck, the project would never have been completed.  Mike and his crew’s expertise helped a bunch of weekend volunteers construct a beautiful deck in two days in a fantastic location.  What a treat for our campers with disabilities and health concerns to use now and many years into the future.  Thank you Archadeck and Timbertech.

Best regards!
Paul L. Huttlin
Executive Director and CEO
Recreation Unlimited Foundation
Recreation Unlimited Farm and Fun
7700 Piper Road
Ashley, OH  43003

Can parts of your old deck be salvaged to reduce cost in replacing your deck?

A qualified deck professional will be glad to inspect your existing deck to determine if you can replace the top layer but keep your existing sub-structure for a reduced cost in replacing your deck.

If you have an existing deck that is badly in need of replacement, there’s a chance you don’t have to scrap the entire thing. If the foundation is fit, you may be able to “re-deck” it which means utilizing the existing under structure but replacing the decking boards, railing and stairs or thing top part of the structure.

Before re-deck

For these Hilliard, Ohio homeowners, this is exactly what we did. The existing deck was originally multi leveled and contained a hot tub. The original deck had a hot tub which took up a considerable amount of the usable living space. The owners wanted to remove the hot tub which had previously necessitated a minor step-up that further restricted the usable living space. In removing the hot tub, we were able to level out the deck which increased the usable living space by 100 more feet. How do you know if your existing deck under structure is sound enough to support re-decking? Call a qualified, reputable decking company for an estimate. They will be able to evaluate your deck to see if it is a candidate for re-decking.

We used TimberTech XLM which is an extremely low maintenance PVC decking board. We also used TimberTech XLM for the rail cap. TimberTech XLM is a non-wood, non-porous material that you can easily keep clean just by hosing off. We used vinyl railings with vinyl risers on the stairs. The skirting was done out of vinyl lattice. All of which are also structurally appealing and very low maintenance.

The boards for the deck were run on a diagonal . We also used parting boards in the middle of this uniquely shaped deck. This is a design element within decking that not only looks great it also eliminates having to splice decking boards together. Hidden fasteners were used throughout so there would be no signs of screws anywhere.

Archadeck’s Design Rendering of Re-deck

The addition of the outdoor lighting made a dramatic impact with the homeowner on this deck. All the stair risers have recessed lighting for safety and for a tranquil, soothing effect in the evenings. We also used lights on the posts. The post lights were done out of low voltage TimberTech accent lights, these lights give you capability of hiding the wiring inside the posts themselves. Larger rail posts were chosen by the homeowner to compliment the lighting. By using a 6×6 post as opposed to the normal 4×4 used on decks such as this, we were able to accentuate the post lights so they weren’t as snug.

TimberTech in Desert Bronze w/ Bronze Post Lights

The colors on this deck harmonized together beautifully. It was important to the customer to use contrasting colors so we used desert bronze by TimberTech on the rail cap  and used bronze colored riser lights that really brought out the color of the desert bronze decking.

This particular job came together beautifully. The worry-free, low-maintenance materials, the deck lighting and all the details made a big impact on the finished project. If a new deck is in your sights, or you are considering re-decking your existing deck give Archadeck of Columbus a call. From the planning stages all the way to the finished project, we are there to make your visions a reality.

Michael Reeder, Archadeck of Columbus
Michael Reeder, Archadeck of Columbus

Give us a call for a free consultation or to discuss your next outdoor project. (740) 879 – 3730
westcolumbus@archadeck.net.

We look forward to talking to you.

Home Show Display Features Low Maintenance Decking

Your guide to Central Ohio Home and Garden Show

Archadeck Home/Garden Show - 2008

Yes, spring will be here soon enough!  A great way to taste the eventual break from winter is to join Archadeck of Columbus at the Central Ohio Home and Garden Show beginning Saturday, February 27th – March 7th, 2010.  Our new display will feature a double level curved deck using Timbertech wood/plastic composites as well as XLM (PVC decking).  We will also be showing Azek PVC decking as well as Fiberon products.

If you have not attended this Home Show and you are considering any home improvement, you should not miss this.  You can find most anything related to home improvement from decks, landscaping, windows, glass block to seminars on gardening and cooking tips. 

This show has been one of our biggest generators of leads throughout the year.  We get to meet folks whom are interested in our services but it also gives us a chance to assist homeowners with their questions.  The best part is the energetic atmosphere that spring is just around the corner!

2010 Home and Garden Show Display

Some tips if you are truly interested in using your time wisely:

  • Go on weeknights (the schedule can be found on the link below)
  • Avoid weekends!  We would love to see you but I must say it is packed until about 5pm.
  • Plan ahead and look for vendors whose products and services interest you.  The link (below) will help you as well as the free program which is provided upon arrival
  • Be sure to talk to the vendors.  Most spend a tremendous amount of time setting up their respective displays and are eager and appreciative when people come by.
  • If you are a DIY (do it yourself), be respectful that most vendors are interested in speaking with potential clients.  Please advise them early that you are going to do something by yourself, but are interested in their experience.  Most vendors will help you if their time permits
  • Don’t forget there are two separate buildings conducting the show.  The Multi-Purpose Building is where most home improvement companies reside and the Celeste Building is where the Garden Showcase is located as well as other home improvement booths.  There is an enclosed walkway between both buildings.  By the way,  Archadeck of Columbus is located in the Celeste Building near the showcase
  • Don’t miss the Garden Showcase.  The themes and displays are unique and change each year and the flowers give you a true sense of spring
  • Senior Day is Wednesday, March 3rd.  Discounted tickets are available and hours are from 12 noon – 9pm

http://www.dispatchevents.com/home_garden.php

Carol, Seth and I will be there throughout the week.  Please feel free to come by should you require our assistance. Happy Hunting!

Michael

Wood Plastic Composites vs. PVC Decking

What are the differences between composites and pvc decking and how to keep composites clean?

Timbertech XLM Desert Bronze, Columbus, Ohio

When we began designing and building decks and screen porches, the majority of customers were interested in wood with a small percentage intrigued about composites, or low maintenance decking.  In the last 10 years, we have seen exponential growth in the low maintenance decking class in brands, color choices and styles.

Over the past 5 years, we have built approximately 70% of our projects in composites or with the newest technological advancement….PVC decking.  If you are not familiar with wood/plastic composites or PVC decking options, here are some differences to consider including a couple recommendations on products and cleaning solutions.

Wood/Plastic Composites

Composite decking is nothing more than wood flour mixed with plastics and extruded into a “low maintenance” decking board.  Please note I did not say “no maintenance”.    Most composites contain 50% wood and 50% plastic.  Natural products such as wood are affected by the elements.  This equates to fading, scratching and contending with dirt, snow, rain, etc. which necessitates some cleaning.  This may sound somewhat counterproductive, but it surely is easier than stripping and staining a wood deck every year.

My wife and I have 2 young boys, so we are constantly in man to man defense and they still spill drinks all the time!  The simple answer is when it gets dirty, or you or someone else spills something, hose it off.   Most soap and water solutions will remove the grime.  You can use a power washer, but it is not recommended (have you seen what a power washer can do to concrete?).  Should a “stain” go unclean for a longer period, it may need more “elbow grease”.    Some recommended cleaners are:

  • CorteClean
  • OxiClean
  • Cabot’s Composite Deck Cleaner
  • Jomax

Mold and mildew is a different issue.  Mold can grow on anything.  The quality composites contain mold inhibitors which hinder mold spores from feeding.   For more information on mold and how to remove it refer to this article written by the North American Deck and Railing Association. http://www.nadra.org/consumers/understanding_mold.html

Our most requested wood plastic composite is Timbertech.  We have used many composites around the country and by far Timbertech is the top of the class in the category of wood/plastic composites.  Their three products in this series are:

  • Reliaboard is their newest product to enter the market.  Colors are Cedar and Grey.
  • Twinfinish is the standard and comes in 3 colors, Cedar, Gray and Redwood. 
  • Earthwood series is beautiful and includes black streaking within the product to give a look of exotic hardwoods.  Colors include Teak, Walnut and Rosewood. 
Timbertech Twinfinish - Cedar
Timbertech Deck Columbus, Ohio
Timbertech Earthwood Deck Columbus, Ohio

The products are listed according to price point, Reliaboard being the least expensive.  Feel free to read their user-friendly website (link above).

PVC Decking

This category of decking entered the market about 5 years ago and has grown in popularity.  The main difference is there is no wood mix.  They are solid core cellular pvc, or in other words, pure plastic.  The advantages of this is they are more stain and scratch resistant than wood/plastic composites.  With the lack of wood in the products, they are denser and less porous which means lower maintenance; simply clean periodically with a soap and water solution.  Another advantage is they will fade less compared to composites (no wood in them).

The disadvantages of this type of decking is cost and, to some, appearance.  They do have the look and feel of plastic.  In addition, color choices are limited but lately we have seen additional darker colors choices including streaking to enhance the appearance.

Timbertech XLM (extreme low maintenance) entered the market 3 years ago.  They have the most beautiful board, Desert Bronze (streaking included) but it is the most expensive.  Other colors available in XLM are Sand Ridge, Mountain Cedar, and River Rock.

Timbertech XLM Deck, Powell, Ohio

   Azek is another option to consider.  The Harvest Collection series offers basic colors, but in my opinion, are a little bland.  They introduced two new series, the Terra Collection (2009) and the new Arbor Collection (2010) with darker colors.  The least expensive is the Harvest Collection up to the Arbor series.  Check out their website for more information.

Azek Brownstone
Azek Brownstone with White Vinyl Rail, Columbus, Ohio
Azek Brownstone with Cedar Rail, Powell, Ohio

There are many more choices to consider, such as Evergrain, Fiberon and Trex.  We at Archadeck are the largest conglomerate of design and build services in the Decking and Screen Porch industry.  The recommendations of Timbertech and Azek are Archadeck’s definitive favorites, especially Timbertech.  Feel free to contact us should you have any questions!

Michael