Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A few thoughts on decking products and warranties

COMPOSITE DECKING Hello ... We met recently with the new sales rep from GAF/ELK. GAF has just recently purchased Correct Deck CX, which has been one of our favorite composite decking choices. Correct Deck was the innovator in the cap layer composite. Which Fiberon and Trex have recently come out with similar cap layer composites. Timber Tech is also going to come out with a cap layer composite product. The Correct Deck CX is a co-extrusion cap layer composite which covers over the first generation composite (inside the cap layer), which is a wood 60%/plastic 40% mixture. FIRST GENERATION COMPOSITES First generation composite products promised allot "less maintenance" then the treated / cedar wood decking, that was the standard choice for deck materials. The main promise was that the first generation composite products did not need to be stained. The staining process of a wood deck can be allot of work and time consuming. So the composite products started to catch on, Trex was the first composite on the decking market. There was problems though, the wood fiber / plastic mixture weathered still , Severe fading from sun exposure , mold became a big problem, and scratching, and staining became issues also. So for having the promise of - not having to stain the deck, you gained a bunch more bad side effects. Keep in mind that in different climates of the country and even different areas of a site where a deck is built can increase or decrease the issues with the first generation composites. We have done some first generation composite decks that still look pretty good after 10 years or more and some that do not look as good. In Michigan where we are, the sun exposure time, the height of the deck, and the moisture that is in the area of the deck, can be the main factors in problem issues with the first generation composites. If the deck is in full sun 24/7 generally western or southern exposure you will get allot of fading of the color on first generation composites, But this will help with moisture/mold growth problems. The height of the deck is also a big factor, generally you do not want a deck built, wood/composite/PVC any lower than twelve inches in height, to the finish floor. The decking needs to dry out and breath. If your patio, porch or deck area is lower than twelve inches, I would recommend going with a hardscape material. Stamped concrete or brick pavers. The moisture issue, is the last of the three problem areas we see, sprinkler system add allot of water to a patio, porch or deck area. They also add allot of water to the water table in the ground which will become an issue in the winter time with frost heave. Also allot of overhanging trees can keep the deck from drying out which will promote mold growth. Mold growth generally comes from wet wood products that stay wet for long periods of time and start to rot, which breeds mold. HEIGHT, SUN EXPOSURE, MOISTURE If you keep those three main factors in mind you can still have good success with a first generation composite product. If you have a deck or patio area that would fall into one of those problem areas. I would recommend the second generation composites or PVC decking choices. SECOND GENERATION COMPOSITES - CAP LAYER/PVC This get us back to the Correct Deck CX product which again was bought out by GAF/ELK GAF/ELK is one of the largest roofing material manufactures in the world and they have been in business for over a hundred years. So they have allot of stability which is always nice. They have come out with very unique contractor certifications and warranty programs based off of there roofing products. Which everyone knows about all the issues that can challenge a roofing product, yet they still offer these lifetime warranties on their roofing systems. Lifetime labor and material warranty The new Correct Deck CX GAF/ELK product will offer a lifetime warranty with both labor and materials covered. I have never heard of the labor being covered, which is a strong security to a homeowner. Trex had some issues awhile back with defective materials that decayed in a year or two and they covered the materials but the homeowner was stuck with paying the contractor to remove and replace the defective product. With the cost to upgrade to a composite or pvc product in the first place, a life time labor and material warranty is a peace of mind. Thank You, for reading .. We will get more into the second generation composites/pvc and the new products in decks for the 2010 season coming up in the next few days.

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