Do you know how to avoid staining a deck? Build
it from something other than wood. There are a hundred different low-maintenance
decking products on the market, but the two most popular are composite and
cellular PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Both will save you from your summer staining
rituals, but there are differences between the two. And even within these two
categories, there are many different manufacturers and a wide variety of
products, but here are some general characteristics:
Composite decking has been around since the
early '90s. Many popular brands are made from 50 percent wood fibers and 50
percent recycled plastic. Composite decking is a solid color all the way
through, so the ends of boards are not as noticeable. It's stiffer than PVC and
can span greater distances. Its stiffness also makes it easier for one person
to handle and helps hide minor imperfections in the framing. Composite is also
less slippery than PVC when it's wet. You should be able to get at least 20
years of use, depending on the conditions. Expect to pay about $6 per sq. ft.
just for the decking.
PVC decking is the relative new kid on the block
but is quickly gaining popularity. Most PVC decking is made from 100 percent
plastic—and no wood means no mold or mildew. It holds its color, it's easy to
clean and it won't stain if you spill a little suntan oil or hamburger grease
on it. PVC is much harder and more scratch resistant than composite decking,
which is good news if you have a large dog or heavy patio furniture. All these
benefits don't come cheap, however: PVC decking will cost you about $10 per sq.
ft. Some companies offer a limited lifetime warranty.
— Mark Petersen, Contributing Editor
For more information on decking products, ideas
and techniques, search for "decks" at the top of this page.