Synthetic Decking Reveals Real Benefits

Forget about staining, painting, or intense cleaning, low-maintenance synthetic decking makes outdoor living a breeze.

When the owners of this new deck decided to replace its redwood predecessor, they chose a composite material for the deck surfaces. Their decision was based on a variety of factors, but especially the low maintenance of synthetic decking compared to wood.

The deck's sweeping curves were inspired by an existing stone-veneer retaining wall at the foot of the hillside site. A similar treatment was used in place of the more usual lattice deck skirting. As a result, the new deck looks like it was conceived and built at the same time as the rest of the home. A further bonus: the prefinished decking was a good match for the color of the house.

The main dining area overlooks a pool. Because the composite decking won't warp or split, it makes a good surface for table and chairs. However, composites can stain, so it is important to clean up spills promptly. It is also important to hose down the decking periodically to remove dirt, pollen, and other mold-harboring materials.

The homeowners like to entertain, and wanted to ensure that their new deck could handle a variety of situations. That's why they chose free-standing seating over built-ins. This curved bench matches the curve of the deck's dining area, but can be moved elsewhere to free up more floor space.

Another concession to flexibility is the absence of built-in planters. Instead, easily moved potted plants add color and leafy texture to the deck. Brightly colored accessories, like the pink throw pillow, also provide eye-catching contrast.

The balusters set into the deck's railing are powder-coated aluminum. The metal echoes the look of the home's wrought iron fixtures, but without the danger of rust stains on the new deck.

The flexibility of the composite decking -- in this case Trex brand boards -- made it seem like a natural for creating curved shapes. The reality, however, was a lot of work. Because the curve of the stairs was so tight, the builder had to rip 2x4s and 2x6s into thinner boards, then assemble the curved steps in laminate fashion. Assembling the stairs took two full days and lots of broken boards. But the result is a work of art that will look great for a long time to come.

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