Composite Decking by TimberTech – Low Maintenance Alternative to Wood Decks

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composite-deckingComposite decking is fast becoming the only choice for many people who no longer want to deal with the constant maintenance of wood. Though there are many manufacturers of composite decking out there, we’ve used TimberTech products and have had good results overall. We also found the TimberTech dealers we used to be responsive to any issues that have arisen. So, if you’ve had it with your wood deck, pulled one too many splinters out of your kid’s foot, refuse to replace another rotted board and think murder every time you’re forced to pick up the paintbrush and wood stain again — it may be time for TimberTech.  

All composite decking is made of some type of plastic, often with wood products blended into it. And, all manufacturers offer grades of product, from an economical (TimberTech’s packages start with the “Reliaboard” deck planking) to a high end option (read not so economical.) As you step up from one decking package to another, it’s not so much the look of the material that changes (although some do look a bit more polished — hard to put a finger on), but the “fancy stuff” that goes with it — more dynamic applications. For instance, we recently used two different products of varying cost. When cleaning the debris from around the work area and the build up in the saw, there was no discernible difference between the two materials and both looked similar in place. (The “grain” was slightly rougher on the lower cost material.)

It’s the hidden extras that justify the higher cost, like pre-drilled rails which cut way down on layout time and hidden fasteners, (TimberTech’s brand name for its hidden fasteners is “CONCEALoc” ), that are designed to install into the tongue and groove of the decking boards, meaning  no (or very few) visible screws. A nice perk when you’re running across the deck with bare feet and prefer not to have a toe ripped off.

These are hidden fasteners (NOT made by TimberTech). You can see how they're designed to slide into the tongue and groove.

A Helpful Note to DIYers:

(Composite decking generally needs to be installed at 16″ on center, although a few products are designed for a max of 24″ on center. Many older decks are 24″ on center, so a quick way to get them ready for composite decking is to insert boards in between, creating a 12″ on center platform. It saves a tear out anyway.)

Some Things to Watch Out For:

TimberTech's economical grade decking. Looks pretty good and no splinters!

1) Though low maintenance, composite decking doesn’t necessarily mean no maintenance. Problems can occur. Pool areas can be tough because of the chlorine and composite products can and do fade or change color over time, just like real wood. The decking located directly in front of glass doors can also be affected (amplified reflection of UV rays) so it pays to look closely into each product and what it offers. (For answers to some common questions about TimberTech composite decking, see their FAQ page.) As an example, a couple years ago, we saw what can only be described as a “burnt” effect on the decking in front of a set of French doors. The TimberTech supplier was great about addressing the issue and replacing the damaged deck boards. Their warranty is 25 years for residential applications.

2) Composite decking is HEAVY. All manufacturers offer boards in 12′, 16′ and 20′ lengths. The 16 and 20 footers take two people to maneuver, not necessarily because of the weight (for all you he-men out there), but because they can snap.

3) All composite decking is priced per linear foot, which can really add up especially if your deck is a large one. A 25 cent per foot difference can mean a couple extra grand so be careful.

4) As green as these products are supposed to be (and I know that’s debatable for a lot of people), potential issues can arise requiring a remedy that may not be all that green. If composite decking is not installed properly, you can end up with some problems, for example mold and mildew. The product is designed to be resistant, but that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible scenario and the end-result is that some type of chemical might be necessary to alleviate the problem.

TimberTech Composite Decking is only available through licensed dealers and contractors. Find a dealer near you to obtain prices and a full list of products.

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About Liz

Liz is a professional, custom picture framer based in Central New York. She and her contractor husband are currently renovating their second home together. At the time of this writing, they are not on speaking terms. Her love of making stuff with wood and DIY home projects began by watching her Dad. (It was also around this time Liz's incessant use of "colorful language" took root.) She's an avid gardener, stellar cook and doesn't throw like a girl: an all-around rad chick.

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2 thoughts on “Composite Decking by TimberTech – Low Maintenance Alternative to Wood Decks”

  1. My four-year-old TimberTech Earthwood deck has mildew and the company will not stand behind it. The deck is in a full-sun location. I do not recommend TimberTech. VERY disappointed in the product and their customer service!

    • I am in Perth Australia and I concur with ch11960, although I have not contacted the mnfrs yet, after buying it from a small company in 2007 which since folded,
      It has been cleaned and maintained regularly, and mildew has been a huge problem from the second year. Mine is 55m2 and is in full sunlight. Be WARY of this product and the mnfrs claims


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