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Question DetailsAsked on 6/10/2018

we are considering Azek decking, any thoughts or recommendations? Looking for pros and cons.

Very sunny deck area. We have 2 dogs and a granddaughter who lives with us. Concerned about how hot it will be and also in winter with slippery surface. Live in the Northeast. Currently have pressure treated deck, about 32 years old so need to replace.

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As I recall Azek is a plastic-coated sawdust-derived core material - so has the bad characteristics of plastic (composite) decking and paasticle board - not a good idea in my mind.

High sunshine exposure areas typically cause those materials to split and splinter quickly, which then lets water in to start expanding and deteriorating the core. In my opinion - if you are going to go with a synthetic decking material (not something I ever recommend) go with the solid ones - where the entire thickness is plastic-infused- though most of them have a LOT of complaints and class action suits about fuzzing up, splitting, etc.

"Rug burns" are a concern with the composite materials - they tend to "fuzz up" and get very scratchy quickly (in a year to few) - also very bad for rug burns when a kid slides on them - can be about as bad as asphalt about that. Plus some people are allergic to the fibers which come off and get imdedded in the skin during on-deck play, so in my opinion not a good choice for a youngster.

Heat burns are a consideration too - especially for kids under about 5-6, because they can get HOTTTT in the sun - too hot for safety.

Course, good ground-contact rated wood - the green stuff, not brown "Wolmanized" or such (though I retreat it before installation to bring it up to something closer to the "old school" 0.5cca treated wood which typically lasts 40+ years instead of the 10-20 with the current dumbed-down products) lasts well, is easy to refinish if you use an oil based penetrating material from day one (once it has cured out after initial installation) - but you are limited in color to that brightish green or deep brown unless you dye the material if using treatment chemical. There are other penetrating colored stains which can be used, but you have to experiement as to how they look on treated wood.

And treated wood does have splintering issues, and the splinters REALLY hurt because of the chemicals in them.

Other options for long life - though the softer woods have the same splinter risk, and the more exotic hard ones are expensive - are heart cedar or heart redwood (lasts about twice as long as non-heart wood), or disease and rot resistant tropical dense woods like ipay, tigerwood or ironwood.

Also - WHY does your existing deck need replacement - lack of good cleaning to remove dirt and tree droppings every year to three, no retreatment with the chemical (typically every 20 or so years), or maybe rotting through at the contact with the joists because of the prolonged wetness there ? The reason for that will give you an idea to what you might want to use for replacement (or maybe even same thing since it lasted 32 years), depending on how often you want/intend to do maintenance/refinishing.

Note - if deck board contact area is the source of the rotting out, there are strips designed to protect the joist from rot/water and also minimize the decking board contact area on the joist, so it dries out quicker. Of course, hosing it down periodically to remove dust and leaf material sitting on the joists and between the deck boards can help reduce that a lot.

One other consideration for the kid - especially if smallish still - is laying out a play area with eily rolled up light weight porous astroturf type material - one that is not water retaining. You have to hang it over the railing to dry or roll it up out of the rain most of the time to prevent it causing premature deck rot (unless using solid composite decking) - basically putting out a "play mat" or "play rug" when the kid goes out to play, and knocking the toys off and rolling it up against the house during non-play rainy or nighttime. Size of course depends on age of kid.

Cost of course comes into it too - you are typically talking $5-10/SF or less (sometimes down to $2-3/SF for simple large deck) for normally available woods or treated wood redecking (assuming the deck/porch frame is fine) - synthetics/composites rarely under $10/SF and commonly $15/SF range - and on up to $20-30/SF for some.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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