Tampa deck builders discuss which materials work best

Tampa deck builders discuss which materials work best

Wondering about wood or confounded by composites? Three Tampa-area deck builders explain options for a greener way to enjoy the outdoors.

What different types of decking materials do you offer?

James Baron: We offer different grades of pressure treated wood and a variety of brands of composite material.

Doug Jones: We mostly deal with pressure-treated wood or AZEK and Trex brand composite.

Gary DeBaylo: We use pressure-treated wood and a lot of different types of composites. You still have to use a wood frame even if you have composite, though.

Are there environmental considerations to the different types of building methods?

 We’re growing and planting enough trees now that we’re not deforesting if we used the wood products. I think anytime we can recycle something, it’s a good idea.

Jones: In Florida, when we’re building a lake dock or walkway, you elevate it a few feet so the sun can go beneath it and not kill the plants.

DeBaylo: A lot of composites are made with recycled materials. Old pressure-treated wood tends to get burned at the dump, which could be a consideration.

How does the price and longevity compare on wood versus composite/vinyl?

Baron: Composite tends to cost about two-and-a-half times as much as wood. If they’re cared for correctly, they should last about the same length.

Jones: If you get good wood and take care of it, it’ll last 20 years. Composite is usually warrantied for 10 years, but they survive well beyond that. It costs double or triple as much as wood.

DeBaylo: Wood starts to splinter and turn grey after a few years in the sun. Composite costs three or four times as much, but it tends to stay in the same condition over the long term.

What should homeowners consider when choosing decking materials?

 Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Someone might bid a lower price on a deck with lower quality wood, but it might have half the lifespan as one with better wood.

Jones: When you’re using composite, you have to use different methods than with wood. It has to be screwed, not nailed, and you need the framing to be closer together.

DeBaylo: Make sure you’re working with a licensed and insured contractor, and think carefully about what kind of warranty you want.

Our experts

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