Q: What is “Trex” decking?
A: “Trex” is a brand name for one of several types of composite decking. Composite deck boards are made up primarily of plastic (often re-cycled) and wood fiber. Some boards are made of PVC and contain no wood or organics.
Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of using composite decking over wood?
A: Probably the biggest advantage to using composite over wood for your deck project is the “low-maintenance” factor. Unlike a wood deck which requires almost yearly maintenance to retain its color and beauty (which also adds to the lifetime cost of the deck), a composite deck requires "very little" to "no" maintenance. Most manufacturers recommend semi-annual cleaning with soap & water.
The disadvantages may be that the initial cost is higher, in some cases as much as double or triple the cost of wood and, although the manufacturers have come a long way in making the boards look more realistic, some folks think the composite boards look “plastic-y”.
Q: What are the benefits of using composite deck boards?
A: Most of the composite deck boards made today are covered by warranties against rotting, splitting, cracking and splintering, all things that may occur over time with wood. Several manufacturer warranties also include coverage against fading and staining. Some will even cover the cost of labor if the boards fail to meet certain specifications! It’s best to check the warranty on the brand you choose at the time of purchase.
Q: If I choose to go with wood, what are the best types of wood to use for building my deck?
A: The most commonly used and readily available types of wood for building decks in Colorado are Redwood and Cedar. Both are durable, beautiful and naturally resistant to decay. Both will silver with exposure and need to be treated with a high-quality stain and/or sealer to maintain their beauty and prolong the life of the deck. Pressure treated lumber can also be used, although special precautions and consideration must be made when building with treated wood (see the article on the products page under "All Weather Wood"). The Brazilian hardwoods are beautiful and durable but are typically double or triple the cost and often have to be brought in by special order from out-of-state, although we have a great local supplier for quality hardwoods. They also silver with exposure and need to be sealed (and sometimes sanded) to maintain their original color and beauty.
Q: Do I need to get a permit to build a deck?
A: In short, yes! According to our local authority, the Pike’s Peak Regional Building Department requires a permit for “Construction, installation and replacement of the following projects: Deck (including use of composite materials), hot tub, pool, basement finish, room addition, exterior siding and stucco, porch, sun room (solarium), patio or deck enclosure and roof covering, gazebo, shed of more than 120 square feet, garage, conversion of a garage to a room, electrical work, lawn sprinkling system’s back-flow prevention device, water heater, boiler, furnace, air conditioning system, fireplace (gas, wood or other fuel source), fireplace conversion to gas, wood stove, roofing, and retaining wall 4 feet high or greater.”
Q: Should I hire a contractor?
A: A licensed, insured contractor is required to build to the standards of the International Residential building Code and the local building department codes. A good contractor can make the process easy. They typically will submit the appropriate drawings and acquire the permit, then build the job according to the approved plan and call for all required inspections. If there are zoning issues or variances needed, your contractor will have to resolve these before construction begins. Many "Deck Contractors" specialize in design/build and experienced contractors should have a portfolio of projects they’ve completed for your review.
If you choose to build the deck yourself or hire family or friends to help you, you assume all liabilities and requirements to build to code.
Q: Can I build a deck myself?
A: With an understanding of the International Residential building Code and local code compliance requirements, perhaps a plan book and a little construction “know-how”, you can pull the permit and build the deck yourself! The homeowner, acting as the contractor in this scenario, is responsible for all aspects of the construction and must obtain the proper inspections in order to close the permit. The PPRBD provides a Deck Handout Package that outlines the specifications for the plot plan, structural framing, approved deck material, foundation, footing & piers, stairs, guardrail & handrail.
Q: Can I pull the permit but have a contractor or handyman do the work?
A: According to our local building department, a home owner should: “Never obtain a permit for a contractor - this is illegal and transfers all liability for injuries and work to you (the homeowner)”. A licensed, insured contractor should never ask you to pull the permit.
Q: Does “Timbers” build decks?
A: No, we are a material supply company. We supply projects for the largest deck contractors in Colorado Springs and can supply you with a referral list of qualified, product-specific contractors.
Q: How much does a composite deck cost?
A: There is no simple answer to this question. It's kind of like asking "How much is a red car"? Of course, size matters when it comes to cost! Complexity of construction is also a consideration. A plain rectangle on the ground will cost much less than an L-shaped deck on an upper level with stairs. The materials used for framing, decking & railing will also make a big difference in the cost. Generally speaking, the composite boards will cost more than wood (some of them are more than triple the cost of a wood board of the same dimension), metal framing may be close to double (or more) the cost of a wood frame, and railings vary in cost from $28 per foot to over $100! While most of us who are in the business can give you a ball park estimate, the best way to price your project is to sit down with your contractor, determine the size and materials to be used, and let them help you put together a budget that works for you.