Boston remodelers offer deck alternative
by Rachel Pfennig
Adding a deck can enhance a home’s asthetics, space and even value. But between staining, structural upkeep and rough New England weather, decks can often require continued care to keep the wood looking new. That has many Boston area remodelers, like Chris Matey, helping homeowners find an alternative: composite woods.
“Most of the decks we use have composite decking,” Matey, the president of Red Apple Renovations, says. “Homeowners are very attracted to the idea of low maintenance.”
Composite or “plastic” woods are made to look like traditional wood, but are resistant to insect, sun and water damage, as well as rot and splintering. The decreased damage is designed to eliminate the need to stain each spring. Composite wood is made from recycled plastic bags, saw dust, wood scraps, and other plastic materials. It can also be used for railing, fencing and trim.
Jesus Soler, owner of Renova Fine Remodeling, says this wood is soft to the touch while also being slip and splinter resistant. However, Soler says that at $9 per square, these alternatives tend to be at least twice as expensive foot as standard decking wood, though they're often comparable with tropical or high-grade woods.
Soler says homeowners are increasingly looking for elaborate deck designs. He says diagonal cuts and picture frame borders are very popular.
“Expect details like this to add four to five hours to a project,” Soler says. “However, it does make a deck look nice.”
He says he also suggests if homeowners can afford it, to look into specialized screws made for plastic woods. Soler says these screws will work better with the plastics, and often can match the deck color so hardware becomes invisible.
Matey says his average estimate for installing a composite deck is about two weeks, though he says this will vary greatly depending on design and materials.
Soler of Renova Fine Remodeling warns that the plastic, while durable, is still susceptible to scratches, which are usually often not covered under warranty.