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Homeowners turning to synthetic decking

June 17, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
It takes work to keep wood decks looking nice. If you don't stain them every few years, they're likely to crack and fade.Now, one out of five homeowners are putting in synthetic decking in the hopes of cutting down on maintenance.

Consumer Specialist Ric Romero teamed up with Consumer Reports to see if these decks are worth the investment.

Abbott Fleur put in his deck six years ago. The wood looks nice, but that's because he just restained it. "I think it's going to last a couple of years, and then I'll have to do another coat," said Fleur.

Consumer Reports tested 17 different types of synthetic decking, which do not need staining. However, they cost two to three times the price of pressure-treated wood.

Some planks were left on the deck behind Consumer Reports' New York headquarters for almost two years. Other boards were left out for a year in Arizona and Florida. Bernie Deitrick says not all the boards are in good shape.

"It faded quite a bit in Arizona. And in Florida we got a lot of mildew growth," said Deitrick.

Removing the mildew will take some work. Other drawbacks are over time some of the synthetic boards can sag. That can be a problem, even when the supports are close together.

Some older synthetic decking has been on the test deck for five years. Some of it doesn't look very good. One actually disintegrated and has been recalled.

But Consumer Reports finds some of today's synthetic decking wears well and requires far less maintenance than wood.

Among plastic decking, Consumer Reports says Eon Classic is a good choice. It comes in a variety of colors.

If you prefer the look of a composite, which is plastic mixed with wood fibers, Consumer Reports top-rated Symmatrix. It is especially good at resisting mildew.

Eon classic costs $600 per 100 square feet. The Symmatrix goes for about $75 less.

Want help choosing a synthetic deck?

 

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