TimberTech vs AZEK: Choosing the Best Low Maintenance Materials for Your Deck

Which composite decking is the best? Archadeck brings a comprehensive guide to the low maintenance and composite decking products TimberTech and AZEK offer.

TimberTech vs Azek Composite and Low Maintenance Decking

Are you considering a low maintenance or composite deck?  Low maintenance materials are a great option for those who want a deck but do not want to go through the hassle of sanding and staining frequently.  One quick search on the internet, however, can leave you feeling bombarded with options.  How do you know which companies are the best and which products will be right for your project?   Continue reading “TimberTech vs AZEK: Choosing the Best Low Maintenance Materials for Your Deck”

Decks, still a good investement!

Combine the value that new outdoor living projects retain with the enjoyment that families receive and a new backyard project becomes a very attractive investments.

The 2009 – 2010 Cost vs Value Report by Remodeling Magazine is out.   Again Decks have held strong when considering their return on investment in the Chicago area.   Amongst several common home improvement projects wooden deck additions ranked 3rd highest with an 80.6% return.  This is based upon an average deck price of $10,675 in 2009 dollars.   Composite decks also offer a strong return but do not hold up quite as well, at a 71% return.  The difference is due to the higher initial cost for the project at an average of $15,619.    Check out the full report at Remodeling Magazine.   Combine the value that new outdoor living projects retain with the enjoyment that families receive and a new backyard project becomes a very attractive investments.

How do we begin the design process for our deck or patio?

Outdoor design begins with understanding what you want to do. A great place to start this process is by identifying what furniture groups you plan to use. Form should always follow function!

Creating outdoor living spaces requires outdoor design.  Obviously outdoor furniture will be a central element to enjoy the spaces with your family and friends.  The outdoor furniture you plan to use is a great starting point for planning your outdoor living space(s).   Knowing what type of furniture and activities you plan on using will drive the new spaces design.  Obviously it will affect size but also shapes and transitions. Form should always follow function.

When we begin the design process for a screen room, paver patio, deck or any of our projects we start by asking about use.   I like to understand what rooms they wish to have in the new outdoor spaces.   Most want an area to dine and to cook, some want a family room, many want a space for a fire pit or fireplace, some want spaces for hot tubs, and many have other ideas for outdoor spaces.   Often getting this conversation started is difficult.   Most people have not thought about their backyard in this way.   Asking about the outdoor furniture that they plan to use gets the conversation started.  Most home owners want to include a grill and a table for dinning.  Beyond these two staples each home owner adds those elements that create their unique outdoor space.

The base for creating outdoor design always flows from the functional needs.   Once we know the basic spaces that the homeowner wants to have we begin blocking out the project.   When we apply the aesthetic tastes of the client the design takes a more exact shape and form.

Deck, patio, pergola

Rehabing your deck (replace decking and reuse the structure)

Often we can replace the decking, trim, and/or the rails but keep the existing structure. The top three issues I look at are signs of structural rot, the deck to house connection (especially the flashing), and the soundness of the concrete footings. Redecks are an option that provides significant savings.

Will that deck make it through another summer?    As the snow melts, hopefully soon, thousands of decks throughout the Chicago suburbs will be revealed.   The wear and tear from another season of sun, rain, freeze, and snow will show itself.   What options does a home owner have?   If the deck boards are beyond normal maintenance, pressure washing and staining, it’s time to consider new material.  Does that mean a new deck?  Not necessarily, often we can replace the decking, trim, and/or the rails but keep the existing structure.  Have the structure evaluated by a professional deck builder or qualified contractor to insure the structure is safe and worth saving.  Poor structure with new surface material is a bad investment.  Having said this, it is very common that the structure can offer many more years of support for your deck.  The top three issues I look at are signs of structural rot, the deck to house connection (especially the flashing), and the soundness of the concrete footings.   Of course, we also review the structural plan for the deck. Healthy material won’t compensate for poor design.

Assuming the structure is sound, perhaps with minor structural repairs, there are many options to rehab and reuse your deck space.  The decking can be replaced with new wood, low maintenance deck boards (such as TimberTech or Azek), or even “stone like” tile options.  With in these choices exists a multitude of natural as well as synthetic materials.   The pros and cons of these choices are best left for another blog.  Okay, several blogs.   The key is that a deck rehab, or redeck, is a very viable option.  Redecks are an option that provides significant savings. 

These rehab’s can involve replacement of decking only or any combination of surface components.  We have done many combinations of deck rehab, including several that involved shape changes, adding screen rooms, or integration of a paver patio.  As always we start by asking questions to understand the homeowner’s priorities.  Once we have a clear picture we will offer recommendations.  Ultimately, we will build what the client wants assuming, it’s safe and legal.  However, there are a couple issues that really make sense for most deck rehab’s.  First, if you are planning to replace the decking on the stairs, it’s best to replace all elements of the stairs.   I don’t reuse strangers.  Second, reuse of non structural materials from the old deck is not worth the effort.  Using new material is so much faster for carpenters that it’s less expensive then reusing old materials.  Not to mention that I have never met a carpenter who is happy working with old material.  Remember, the carpenter is a craftsmen and their happiness will directly affect the results of your project.  Happy carpenters equal a successful project; that sounds like another future blog topic.

A deck rehab is often the perfect solution.   Whether you simply need deck boards replaced or wish to recreate your outdoor living space(s), using the existing foundation can give savings.  It can give savings of both money and time for your project.