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March, 2014

Composite Decking vs. Wood Decking……What is the best Choice?

When it comes to choosing the best deck building materials most people are unsure of the proper choice mostly because they are not aware of the properties of each product.  In this article we will discuss all the pros and cons of each different as well as the cost associated with each.  A good rule of thumb when choosing a brand of products is to stay away from new or unheard of brands as they are just developing their technology and testing their products.

Composite Decking

This composite deck trim is a nice compliment to the natural colors of the western red cedar

Composite materials have become increasingly popular especially with great product improvements over the first generation of to hit the markets.  The first generation was peppered with problems from mold issues to warping boards.  The newer generations are the capped composite products that look amazing and out perform any standard uncapped composite.  A capped composite is always your best choice provided that it’s a reputable manufacturer.  Your reputable manufacturers would be:  TREX, TimberTech & Fiberon

One of the pros of composite decking is that it’s virtually maintenance free.  You don’t have to stain, seal or re-finish your deck every couple years which will save you money or time (it you like to do things yourself) in the long run.  While composite decking is a maintenance free product you still do have to take care of the product.  You should wash it 2-3 times a year with a mild soap to clean forming mold from becoming visible.   It is suggested that uncapped composites should be cleaned more frequently due to the fact that the organic fibers are exposed to the elements.

While composites are mold resistant it doesn’t mean that mold can’t form on them.  Mold can form on any surface if the correct living conditions are met which are a combination of temperature, moisture and food for the spores.  If you wash your deck and remove organic debris from your deck you should have any problems.  Anyone that suggests that composite products are mold free are misleading you and that information is definitely false.

One of the disadvantages that composites have over wood products is that you can’t refinish them.  Take for example you moved your man sized BBQ across the deck gouging the surface.  If it were a wood product you could repair it by sanding out the damaged area and re-staining.  With a composite product you are not able to do that and you would have to replace the damaged area.  Our suggestion is to be cautious when working on your new composite deck.

Another disadvantage to composite decking is the price,  you should expect to pay double the price of a cedar deck in the same style.  However, Angie’s List has reviewed this subject and has determined that on a 14′ x 20′ deck that you would pay $4600 in additional maintenance costs if you used pressure treated wood over the original costs if you had build your deck with a composite product.

 

Wood Decks (Cedar & Pressure Treated)

This cedar fence & deck combo provides an excellent BBQ atmosphere

Wood decks are still a strong competitor in today’s market even though composite is a better product.  Why is that you ask?  Well first of all some people just like the natural look of a wood deck, secondly it’s less expensive (which is usually the deciding factor).

Wood decks do have their advantages as we mentioned above that a wood deck’s surface can be repaired.  Another advantage to using wood (mainly cedar) is that you can stain it to the color that you desire instead of choosing a color that is manufactured into the product.  You could also change the stain color (not very easily mind you) of your deck.

A wood deck is far from maintenance free with repairs, staining & splinters.  Wood when exposed to the elements will twist, cup, warp, crack, splinter and rot…..all of which you would be to tend to every year.  Along with all the regular repairs you will have to re-stain your deck every couple years to try to keep it looking its best.

 

Hopefully this article will help you in you decking material decisions, however you can still contact us to discuss your options or request a quote.

 

What is the Best Way to install a Fence Post?

Installing a Fence Post in Ottawa

 

As the installation of the posts is the most important part of building a fence our customers are very inquisitive on the subject.   In this article we will answer the most common questions we get about fence post installation.

How deep do you dig the holes for the posts?

To set our posts properly we dig down 48 inches which is well below the frost line here in Ottawa.

The frost line in Barrhaven is said to be about 34″, how they have  determined this is not certain.

The display of rocks shows just how difficult digging a post hole can be in Kanata

This was some hard digging conditions in Kanata

 

Do you use sono tubes when setting the posts?

Generally speaking we don’t use sono tubes when installing a fence post. Sono tubes are designed as a removable cylindrical  concrete form.

When end you dig a hole for a fence post the walls of that hole will act as you concrete form holding the concrete. You could use a sono tube however you wouldn’t be gaining anything in doing so. In order to get a sono tube in the hole you would have to make the hole slightly lager. When the tube is inserted there would then be a cavity in between the hole and the tube. If you were to fill that cavity with dirt that dirt would settle which may cause the sono tube to shift. So for it to not settle you would use concrete which then makes the sono tube of no useful value.

On occasion we do use them when it’s appropriate. One example would be if we were also landscaping the yard and were excavating we would use sono tubes to raise the concrete up which would require a form (sono tube). So this way when we do the landscaping later and raise the grade the fence post won’t be so far into the soil.

Hopefully this answers your questions. If you do have any questions on this topic or and other questions related to fencing feel free to comment or give us a call

White cedar fence posts will be ready to install the panels once the concrete sets

Fence posts we installed in 1 day which is usually the case