If you’re fortunate enough to own a home that already has a deck, make sure you don’t make the mistake of neglecting it. Not only does a deck improve your quality of life, but it’s also a foolproof way to increase your home value.
If your deck is looking a little worse for wear these days, it’s time to get to work.
Many homeowners struggle with the question of how to tackle an older deck. Is the best method to paint, repair, or replace it with composite material?
The answer depends heavily on the condition your deck is in. In this composite material guide, you’ll find the answers you need to make the right decision when it comes to your home’s outdoor deck.
When Is It a Good Idea to Repair a Deck?
If your home has an old deck, but you aren’t ready to replace it, you might be able to get a few more years out of the deck by making repairs. Keep in mind that this is only true if the deck is still in good condition.
Most wood decks have a longevity of 20 years if you take good care of them. Taking good care of your wood deck means treating it to monthly maintenance and yearly repairs. This is especially true with our harsh New England winters.
If your deck shows signs of age and it’s also 20 years old or older, it’s time to focus on replacement rather than restoration.
Should I Try Painting Over an Old Deck?
Painting an old deck is another option if you’re not quite ready to replace it. Adding a coat of paint to your old deck is one way to incorporate a layer of protection from the elements.
Painting can also give an old deck a welcome facelift. A coat of paint can cover up old stains, cracks, and other signs of wear and tear. It can also tack on several more good years of outdoor enjoyment.
However, painting over an old deck comes with potential risks as well. So you need to be careful in assessing the condition of your old deck.
Thoroughly inspect the condition of your deck. Keep an eye out for rotten and warped wood boards, insect infestations, and unstable structural supports.
If your structural supports show any sign of rot, you should replace the structural supports to prevent damage to your home and injury to yourself and others.
Costs of Repairing vs. Replacing a Deck
When you’re trying to determine whether to replace or repair your deck, it is important to think about the cost.
On average, a homeowner can expect to spend between $10 and $50 per square foot to repair a deck. Keep in mind, that the more extensive the repairs needed the higher the cost.
In contrast, composite material for decks costs an average of $4 to $13 per square foot before installation. If you include the cost of installation and substructure, composite material costs between $30 and $60 a square foot.
Keep in mind that it can be nearly impossible to find replacement deck boards that will match your current deck. If you’re not okay with having some mismatched boards, you might be happier with a replacement.
On the other hand, if the substructure of your deck is in good shape, it might be most cost-effective to replace your old decking boards with composite material that lasts much longer than wood boards.
If the substructure, or framing, or your deck is in disrepair, this is a major safety concern.
In this case, you need to be thinking replacement rather than repair. Always follow your city’s regulations regarding deck substructures.
What Is Composite Material?
While a natural wood deck offers a natural look, it requires a lot of work to maintain. Wood is susceptible to weather damage, so a natural wood deck requires treatment (painting, staining, weather-proofing) for protection.
Composite decking material is an excellent alternative to natural wood decking that has gained significant popularity among homeowners.
Composite material is typically constructed from a mixture of recycled plastic thread and sustainable wood materials like bamboo. This combination creates a durable decking material that is more stable than plastic decking.
Composite decking materials have been around for decades, but modern technology has enabled great innovations in decking. Today, composite decking materials are easy to work with and come in many varieties.
Composite Material Uses
In addition to being one of the most preferred decking materials, the composite material has lots of other building purposes. Composite materials are used to build bridges, buildings, storage tanks, and swimming pool panels.
Composite materials are also useful for interior design including bathtubs and shower stalls. It’s even an integral component in the creation of imitation granite countertops and marble sinks.
You might be surprised to learn that there is composite material in race car bodies and boat hulls as well.
Composite Material Benefits for Homeowners
In addition to its versatility and cost-effectiveness, composite material offers many other benefits to homeowners. Check out these seven ways composite materials can improve your outdoor deck experience.
Composite material is far superior to natural wood when it comes to durability. This high-performance material is resistant to scratching, fading, and mold. Composite material won’t warp, rot, splinter, or crack with age.
Go ahead and spill all the food, drop your greasy grilling tools, and let the dogs run free. There’s no need to worry about any of this causing damage to your composite deck.
Unlike natural wood decking, composite decking material doesn’t require additional treatments to protect it from damage from the elements. Because it contains plastic, composite decking has a natural seal that repels water.
With composite decking materials, you don’t need to factor in the added costs of painting, staining, or sealing. Wood decks require a new coat of paint or a sealant every few years.
In contrast to wood decks, composite material is essentially maintenance-free. A wood deck, on the other hand, requires fairly extensive yearly maintenance and regular upkeep.
With a wood deck, you might spend several days a year washing, staining, and sealing to prevent damage. But composite materials last for decades without much effort at all.
All you need to do to clean your composite deck is gently scrub it with water and soap.
You can do this type of cleaning as little as once or twice a year (barring any major spills). And you don’t have to add any protection because the composite material protects itself.
If your goal is to spend the majority of your time enjoying your deck and a very minimal amount of time maintaining it, composite decking might be the right choice.
Low-maintenance longevity is one of the greatest benefits homeowners experience from using composite decking. On average, composite decking material has a lifespan of between 25 and 30 years.
A wood deck can last between 20 and 40 years. But when you factor in the amount of time and cost you put into maintenance, composite is most often the better deal.
Those concerned about the impact of human behavior on the environment will be glad to know that composite materials don’t contribute to deforestation the way wood decking material does.
With composite material, you can have the same beautiful look and feel of wood without any of the guilt.
Of course, not all composite decking is created with sustainable intentions in mind. It’s important to do your research to find out what kinds of materials your composite decking supplier uses.
Plastic materials like polyethylene and wood scraps are the most common recycled materials you will find in composite decking.
One beneficial aspect the whole family will enjoy about composite material decking is its inability to splinter. Because the composite material gets fused together like a woven garment, there is no chance of the material splintering.
Everyone, including the family pet, can roam barefoot and free across the deck without worrying about painful splinters.
It used to be that if you decided to go with composite material decking your choice of color palette was quite limited. Many people preferred wood to composite material because you could paint wood any color you want.
These days, composite material decks come in every color you could want. The best part is you’ll never have to worry about fading or trying to match paint colors. Composite materials retain their hues and are fade-resistant.
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We hope you enjoyed this composite material guide to deck repair and replacement. For all of your Massachusetts home improvement needs, trust Ulta Home Improvements. Contact us for a convenient, free consultation.