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Composite Deck Material Decision

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  • May 18th, 2017 7:51 pm
[OP]
Newbie
Jul 4, 2010
38 posts
4 upvotes
Toronto

Composite Deck Material Decision

Hey all,

I'm close to pulling the trigger on a 16'x22' deck in the GTA and am struggling with my choice for deck material.

A bit of background is that the only reason I am struggling is due to fixed budget from lovely wife, so I can't just buy everything top of the line etc.

Things I have decided on already for budget savings are, forgoing a full transcend railing, and going with just the transcend post sleeves/caps, and then having the contractor sand and stain a cedar top and bottom rail in black with aluminum ballusters. (Still possibly looking into other aluminum rail option, but we don't want something too "skinny" so options at a decent price point are limited.

Skirt the deck entirely in cedar, again sand/stained in black. (Not a fan of lattice at all, and composite fascia is $$$$)

I am 90% leaning towards Trex, and I am very slightly over budget by $1-2k, and it seems that there are only a couple of ways to get around this.

I can either:
  1. Go to a lower tier trex board. ie. From Transcend Island Mist to Select Pebble Grey
  2. Don't have the contractor do the skirt at all and either DIY it when funds are more free flowing, or have contractor come back and do it.
  3. Look at something in the Veranda HP Elite (I believe Fiberon makes this for HD, but hard to find any apples to apples comparison or reviews)

So from the above list, the easiest thing would be to simply go with the Select line from Trex, as I believe the warranty is the same. But I am having trouble finding out if there is anything significantly different between Transcend and Select other than Transcend has a more detailed grain colouring and in general is nicer looking.

I believe Select used to have issues with their older products so it's hard to find any recent accurate comparisons. Trex doesn't really differentiate too much other than "Good, Better, Best" without any reason other than cosmetics.

I anyone else has some insight on the differences between select and transcend i'd appreciate it.

Not really looking for a full ceder deck, definitely not a PT deck, and have looked into and decided against IPE and other exotics so please don't suggest these alternatives.

Thanks!
11 replies
Member
May 7, 2016
458 posts
388 upvotes
No clue about your question, but how much are they quoting you to do the deck? I have a similar sized deck and need to change it, but I have no idea of the cost. Thanks!
Deal Expert
User avatar
May 10, 2005
36249 posts
10404 upvotes
Ottawa
A couple things have learned and in the end, did not use it for my deck. I went to see a bunch of decks with it installed.
If you are going to use composite deck, the spacing between the joists should be a bit closer. Composite is a "plastic" and when it is hot, is droops.
It gets very hot. The decks I saw all had outdoor carpeting where the furniture was.
Cheap stuff does fade.
It is quite expensive. From $8 per sq ft to over $12 per sq ft for the good stuff (not installed as the attachment hardware is also very expensive).....and that is only the decking, not the cost of the deck itself.

http://www.improvenet.com/r/costs-and-p ... -estimator
http://www.trex.com/products/deck-cost-landing/
Member
May 22, 2007
489 posts
257 upvotes
Mississauga, Ontario
If you are sanding/staining the cedar skirt, why not rather use PT and then stain as this will save you at least 50% of the cost of the skirt material. Also, installing and staining the skirt is an easy job, DIY to save even more. This alone would likely save you $1k and you will basically be within your budget.
[OP]
Newbie
Jul 4, 2010
38 posts
4 upvotes
Toronto
Carz, what I have learned is there is no such thing as "ballpark" when it comes to decks, so throw out most of these "per sq/ft" amounts. For me I am probably looking at $13-15k for everything. I'll put some details below and what I think the breakdown was. It looks like railing cost is probably what bites people that haven't built a deck before in the behind. If I wanted a full Trex Transcend railing it would probably push $5k installed!

Pete, I do plan on going 12" OC for the joists, but according to Trex, contractor, everything online this is really only needed if you go diagonal with the boards. I think the problem with this product is it's now in it's 2nd or 3rd iterations but it's tough to distinguish reviews of old composite vs new. In any case, even if 12" isn't needed, it should help negate any potential "deck squeak" down the road. I think the heat factor is highly dependent on the colour you choose. If you paint a PT deck black I am sure you will burn your feet as much as picking a dark grey/brown. But I'll be getting a lighter grey, and am prepared for a bit of heat. Main areas will have umbrella and eventually a gazebo of some kind. I've read other owners state that their deck didn't get any hotter than a previous wood deck with some of the lighter colors. And yeah, there are a few additional costs that jump out at you. Like having to pay almost $500 for hidden fasteners lol.

Mac, I am not an expert in building materials, but my assumption for not using PT, is that it's treated by if you sand it, most of the protection will come off as I don't believe it's as resistant under the surface. Also, not sure how much sanding will get rid of the already coloured wood. I'm guessing sanding the cedar first is just to accept the stain and perhaps get rid of any minor sealant that had been applied. It is essentially raw wood, and is naturally resistant throughout. Of course, I could still do PT, and just leave it a year or two to weather and then paint it, but I don't think I'd like that as much. Again, not 100% on any of the above so take with a grain of salt heh.


As for what would be included in the price:
  • Teardown and disposal of the old PT deck
  • Cleaning up under the old deck, putting down fabric and clearstone gravel
  • Build Substructure (new ledger and raising deck a few more inches to be level with back door, roughly 4' off the ground)
  • New Footings (think the contractor said only 5 more were needed)
  • Decking
  • Stairs
  • Railings - my current plan to hopefully save a bit, is 4x4 posts with Trex post sleeves, then the cedar rails sanded/stained black, with black aluminum ballusters
  • Full Skirt - Cedar sanded/stained black

The guy was ready to itemize everything down to the lag bolt but basically, all the teardown/site prep/footings and substructure will be just under $3k. The Decking will be $4k with Transcend Island Mist, stairs $650, Hidden Fasteners $450

On a roughly $14k-$15k deck labour was going to be around $3500 which I consider really good. This guy isn't from the city so I am not getting the "GTA Special" rate...just need to get this project to $13k as per directive from boss/wife.

Variables:
I can probably save about $1500-1800 going with Select vs Transcend. I finally called trex and asked the differences, as this is there highest and lowest lines. As far as materials used they are the same, and have the same warranty. The main difference is Transcend and Enhance are .94" thick, vs Select is .82" thick. For installation the only difference I was told was for Select, stair stringers would need to be 9" OC instead of 12" for the top two.
I might be able to save a few hundred if I demo the old deck myself, I just don't want to slow things down too much or damage the house for minimal savings. Plus I don't even have any demo tools lol.
Still waiting for final price for railing and skirting, so skirting I may leave off and have him back or DIY later
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 19, 2008
6812 posts
2356 upvotes
GTA
"I've read other owners state that their deck didn't get any hotter than a previous wood deck with some of the lighter colors."
I find composites a lot hotter when building them, and see owners surprised they can't go barefoot on the deck boards in the sun. Find a light colour Trex deck and judge for yourself, at minimum take a board home and sit it on your existing deck.
"•Full Skirt - Cedar sanded/stained black"
I've seen a lot of failed stains, especially pigmented....and almost always if stain builds a film.
Deal Addict
Dec 17, 2007
2491 posts
1458 upvotes
Alliston, ON
There are alot of good options for composite deck boards other than Trex, that are probably a bit cheaper. Look at Azek, Fiberon, Timberech.... Go to one of the larger deck stores and look at there walls of products.

As for your railing, I'd really look at the Veranda railing that Homedepot carries. I used it on my deck I built last year and I love it, the top rail is fairly wide so it gives the railing a good look. Its MUCH better than a normal PT/Cedar railing but alot cheaper than going with the Trex railing. The Veranda line is made by Deckorators and is the exact same as their CXT Classic railing but at half the cost! HD carries 6ft length railing in stores, but you can order 8ft lengths if needed. You could get a nicer look if you used the square balusters instead of the round.
20170517_065848.jpg
As for your skirting, I wouldn't use PT or Cedar painted, I'd use a composite wood-like Fascia board, the same stuff they use to trim the exterior of houses. I just picked some up for my deck that i'm going to be painting black to match my railings. The product I'm using is called MiraTec, it cost me $60 for a 5/4 x 10 x 16' board. It comes Pre-Primed and you can paint it any colour you want. Or you can buy it pre-finished in Black for about $100/board and you'll never have to worry about repainting. It also doesn't expand and contract like using real wood does. For my 15x29 deck plus a landing i needed about 5 boards, plus a gallon of paint, so about $350 to do all my skirting.
20170516_190313.jpg
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Jan 17, 2002
7462 posts
787 upvotes
Toronto
Assuming it will be in contact with the ground, look into products rated for ground contact for your skirting
[OP]
Newbie
Jul 4, 2010
38 posts
4 upvotes
Toronto
schade wrote: There are alot of good options for composite deck boards other than Trex, that are probably a bit cheaper. Look at Azek, Fiberon, Timberech.... Go to one of the larger deck stores and look at there walls of products.

As for your railing, I'd really look at the Veranda railing that Homedepot carries. I used it on my deck I built last year and I love it, the top rail is fairly wide so it gives the railing a good look. Its MUCH better than a normal PT/Cedar railing but alot cheaper than going with the Trex railing. The Veranda line is made by Deckorators and is the exact same as their CXT Classic railing but at half the cost! HD carries 6ft length railing in stores, but you can order 8ft lengths if needed. You could get a nicer look if you used the square balusters instead of the round.
20170517_065848.jpg

As for your skirting, I wouldn't use PT or Cedar painted, I'd use a composite wood-like Fascia board, the same stuff they use to trim the exterior of houses. I just picked some up for my deck that i'm going to be painting black to match my railings. The product I'm using is called MiraTec, it cost me $60 for a 5/4 x 10 x 16' board. It comes Pre-Primed and you can paint it any colour you want. Or you can buy it pre-finished in Black for about $100/board and you'll never have to worry about repainting. It also doesn't expand and contract like using real wood does. For my 15x29 deck plus a landing i needed about 5 boards, plus a gallon of paint, so about $350 to do all my skirting.
20170516_190313.jpg
Hey Schade, you gave me quite a bit to think about. Right now it's a toss up between a full Veranda rail system, or 6x6 cedar posts, cedar rails and aluminum ballusters. The cedar again would get stained ebony/black. My wife can't handle too many colours.

For the Veranda I am seeing it for just under $27/linear foot, I believe this includes the post sleeve in the calculation yes? The only thing not factored in is the cap which is nominal. Just trying to confirm but the contractor is pricing it out.

Regarding the Miratec, I'm assuming the "10" in your 5/4x10x16' is inches yes? If so, I'm assuming if you only used 5 boards you must be almost at ground level? My deck will sit almost 40" above grade, so if I did these vertically, I'd get 4 pieces from each board covering 40". My deck perimeter is in the 60-65' range so I'd be looking at probably 18-20 boards, which is still over $1k. It would actually be cheaper to use cedar deck boards, not to mention it would be much sturdier using solid wood. The downside would be maintenance, but vertical boards won't weather like horizontal, so hopefully will get 4-5 years out of the skirt before any significant touch-ups are needed. Just out of curiosity, where did you get the Miratec from? I see Lowes carries, it but other than that just some independent lumber yards I think.

Really appreciate the ideas though, you've got me seriously considering the veranda system if it comes back around the same price. Have a feeling it will be more though, since the current plan involves all wood.

At least I got the wife to up the budget a bit so am for sure going with the Transcend Island Mist now unless the final quote somehow comes back with a major surprise or two...

Thanks again!
Deal Addict
Dec 17, 2007
2491 posts
1458 upvotes
Alliston, ON
elpietro wrote: Hey Schade, you gave me quite a bit to think about. Right now it's a toss up between a full Veranda rail system, or 6x6 cedar posts, cedar rails and aluminum ballusters. The cedar again would get stained ebony/black. My wife can't handle too many colours.

For the Veranda I am seeing it for just under $27/linear foot, I believe this includes the post sleeve in the calculation yes? The only thing not factored in is the cap which is nominal. Just trying to confirm but the contractor is pricing it out.

Regarding the Miratec, I'm assuming the "10" in your 5/4x10x16' is inches yes? If so, I'm assuming if you only used 5 boards you must be almost at ground level? My deck will sit almost 40" above grade, so if I did these vertically, I'd get 4 pieces from each board covering 40". My deck perimeter is in the 60-65' range so I'd be looking at probably 18-20 boards, which is still over $1k. It would actually be cheaper to use cedar deck boards, not to mention it would be much sturdier using solid wood. The downside would be maintenance, but vertical boards won't weather like horizontal, so hopefully will get 4-5 years out of the skirt before any significant touch-ups are needed. Just out of curiosity, where did you get the Miratec from? I see Lowes carries, it but other than that just some independent lumber yards I think.

Really appreciate the ideas though, you've got me seriously considering the veranda system if it comes back around the same price. Have a feeling it will be more though, since the current plan involves all wood.

At least I got the wife to up the budget a bit so am for sure going with the Transcend Island Mist now unless the final quote somehow comes back with a major surprise or two...

Thanks again!
Disregard my comments about the skirting, I was confusing myself with skirt and fascia. My deck is 9ft from the ground so I don't have any skirting. I'm using the MiraTec as my fascia boards and yes, the 10 is inches wide.
Lowes doesn't actually carry the MiraTec anymore, it's just a phantom listing on their site. I ordered mine either from Home Hardware Building Centers, but you can get it at TimberMart, some Rona stores and other lumber yards

I think the Veranda railing was cheaper than 27/ft if you go with the round balusters.
6ft top and bottom railing = $36
4x4 post cover = $30
For a pack of 10 36" balusters I paid $20 on sale
Post cap and trim were like $4 each I think
So for each 6ft section your about $17/ft (top bottom rail, 1.5 posts, balusters)
Deal Guru
Jan 25, 2007
10388 posts
5604 upvotes
Paris
I am 100% against the stained railing idea. Stains fade and will need re-doing in 3-5 years and how in the world are you going to re-sand an installed upper and lower rail with all the aluminum balusters in the way?

I did my deck in PT and never again! The amount of screwing around I have had to do since then is non-sensicle. Replacing boards, deck protection every other year. I wanted to do all of my deck at once (16x24 on 2 levels, 4' apart) so couldn't afford to go composite. I should have done the upper in composite and then the lower a few years later.

My suggestion would to save things like skirting for another year and just get the deck itself done to fit the budget committee.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 19, 2008
6812 posts
2356 upvotes
GTA
The Veranda railing system is good quality.
There is composite lattice available, not my fav look but its inexpensive and maintenance free.
If you do go with composite fascia boards they will need a solid framing system, supported every few feet or one will bulge and the board above go in...look terrible with the heat. The boards will move in length with the sun on them so can't be mitered at corners-and there is no trim piece to cover butt joints last I looked.

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