Deck Building is a specialty trade and most deck builders will go to great lengths to ensure they have built the best designed and engineered decks possible. Often though, deck builders may overlook the aesthetic details and maintenance requirements of the deck as part of the initial project.
When you are planning on building a new deck or renovating an existing deck for your residential outdoor living space, the maintenance it will require is an important, practical consideration. While that may seem to directly contradict the emotional satisfaction and immediate gratification of your new deck purchase, it is the best way to ensure you enjoy it for as many years as possible.
While the look of a deck protected with a vinyl membrane is very different than that of a deck constructed of wood plank, there are many advantages to choosing a vinyl membrane as your deck finishing material.
When you are barbecuing on a Duradek, spills are easily cleaned off the surface.For starters, Duradek is applied on untreated plywood, which is much cheaper than the cost of both the material and the labour involved in wood or composite board installation (and it is also a Green Option with no chance of chemical of treated wood ever leaching into the environment).
Additionally, when choosing Duradek there is no drying or curing time required. You can use the deck as soon as the membrane is installed. But even more importantly, there is no reapplication required. Once a Duradek vinyl membrane has been installed on your deck, you do not have any additional maintenance (besides cleaning) throughout the product’s lifetime. Duradek is warranted for 15 years but has a life expectancy that far exceeds that (actual life span will vary by environment).
Another consideration is the added amount of usable living space. When you build a deck, the square footage is added outdoor living space. When you chose a vinyl membrane versus drip-through deck systems on a second level deck, you not only protect your deck, but you provide additional dry, usable space below.
Let’s look at why those are important points to weigh when considering deck options.
Home owners that are eager to start enjoying their new deck are sometimes told by deck builders to leave their wood deck untreated so it can be ‘weathered’ for a year first. That advice is a little antiquate in many instances with the majority of today’s deck building products and would require a more costly finishing project than if it were done at the time of the initial deck construction.
Not to mention, the new wood plank deck looks great when the project is first complete, but with use by the home owner and exposure to the elements, the deck quickly loses its ‘newness’ and begins to take on a less than ideal appearance with stains from spills and general greyness from weathering in as little as a few weeks. Even expensive hardwoods like ipe that are naturally resistant to rot will still loose appearance appeal if not treated.
There are some companies that specialize in maintenance of wood finishings and will provide the service of application of finishes on new decks or restoration of an older deck. An article by finishing specialist Scott Burt, “Deck Maintenance Programs” on Professional Deck Builder online discussed this issue in great detail and explained that he frequently gets calls for new, unfinished decks.
Whether it is for a relatively new deck or a very old deck, the steps required in wood finishing are virtually the same. First the deck must be cleaned which usually involves a light pressure washing with some gentle cleaning products and sometimes a mild sanding. Then the deck would be cordoned off to dry for a few days.
The second step would require the application of a finish which would also require the deck to be shut down for a few more days of cure time. All together, the best case scenario for a mini restoration would cost 1 ½ weeks of time on the deck, or more if weather conditions impeded progress.
According to Scott, the cost for the first restoration would be about $2,500 and maintenance every 6 or 12 months would cost about $1,200. The length of time between deck finishing maintenance would depend on climate, exposure and wear patterns; but the bottom line is that if you want to keep your wood deck looking good, it WILL require maintenance.
What Decking Considerations are Most Important to You?
If the look of a wood board deck is something you cannot live without, you may feel tempted to go with a traditional, high maintenance wood deck or risk a potentially disappointing composite deck.
But Duradek vinyl membranes may be your deck finish of choice if you:
- Want to enjoy your deck without the losing the leisure time required for maintenance.
- Want to enjoy an attractive deck without the need to continually invest money in annual or semi-annual maintenance.
- Want to enjoy an attractive deck surface that can blend well with your exterior design scheme (Duradek comes in over 20 colours/patterns).
- Want to take advantage of a deck surface that brings complete waterproof protection providing a dry area below for living space or a covered patio for dry outdoor living space.
- Want to feel comfortable that your decking product has a reliable history and will perform as intended.
If any of the above points resonate with what you desire for your outdoor living space, be sure to talk to a Duradek installer in your area for a free, no-obligation estimate on your decking project.
Duradek has been protecting decks, balconies and patios for 40 years, and with over 125 million square feet of Duradek vinyl installed we are confident we can bring an attractive and functional contribution to your residential outdoor living space that you will enjoy for many years!