The common denominator in wood decking, whether it's treated pine, redwood or cedar, is the need for regular care and maintenance. Sanding, staining and resealing are an annual chore for some, but others might go two or three years between treatments.
In recent years some sharp entrepreneurs, recognizing that many homeowners might appreciate a lower-maintenance option, came up with some alternatives. In addition to vinyl and aluminum, there's even plastic decking available now. But the segment of the decking industry that's seen the biggest change is what's called composite decking.
Composite decking is typically made from a combination of different materials (namely, wood and plastic), which are processed to give the appearance of wood. Both the wood (which consists of lumber industry byproducts like sawdust, chips and wood fiber) and the plastic can be made from virgin or recycled material.
Manufacturers mix the components, often adding a pigment and preservative. The mixture is heated, formed into board-shaped lengths and then cooled. The resulting board of composite decking is usually heavier than wood but not as strong. But composite decking is resistant to rot, doesn't warp, won't give people splinters, and doesn't need to be painted, stained or sealed.
The color of most composite decking will fade somewhat after the initial installation. Homeowners are encouraged to keep their composite decking swept clean, attend to any stains as soon as possible, and hose it down twice a year, finishing with a soap and water scrub.
“Picture-framing” refers to putting a border around the edge of a deck or porch. On a composite deck or porch, picture frames are constructed using square-edge boards and mitered corners to ensure a clean, finished look.
Among the reasons to consider a picture frame:
One final tip: Be sure that the width of the picture frame is in correct proportion to the size of the overall deck. If you're working with a large space, you may want to create a wider, two-board-width picture frame. If the deck is smaller, stick to one board width.
The best thing for removing ice and snow is a calcium chloride-based "ice-melt" or rock salt. If you're unsure about what type of ice-melt you're looking for, search for a product that has the phrases, "safe for concrete", "safe for flagstone", and "will not kill grass" in its description. Do not use ice melt with an added colorant. The dyes can stain your composite decking. Never use sand on Fiberon Decking. Sand abrasion can grind into the decking and permanently damage the surface.
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