By Crystal Pieschel

Short days and cold nights make us yearn for the warmer, summer months and spending time outdoors. One of the best places for you to enjoy the spring and summer months on Cape Cod is hanging out on your deck with food on the grill, a glass of wine in hand, surrounded by family. Whether you are building a deck for one of your clients or building it yourself, it is important to understand the best options for decking material.

In general, contractors find that homeowners are torn between wood and composite decking, and are left weighing the pros and cons of each type of material. What we do know is that a wooden deck requires upkeep. Trex and AZEK are alternative materials that require little to no maintenance and last much longer than wood.

What Is Trex?

Trex is a composite material that has the traditional look of natural wood. Some other composite or PVC materials have an extremely uniform look. At first glance, you might think that you prefer the tidy appearance. However, when you put those boards together to build a deck, the result is an artificial-looking area. Trex has a more natural appeal. The design on the boards mimics the subtle imperfections found in real woodgrain.

In addition, its durable outer shell resists scratching, which means that when you push your chair out from under the table or let your dog out onto the deck, the material won’t become damaged. Finally, Trex is environmentally friendly. It is made from 95 percent recycled materials, including recycled sawdust, and claims to be the most eco-friendly decking material on the market.

What Is AZEK?

AZEK is a cellular PVC material that’s made using weather-resistant technology. The core contains no wood fibers. It won’t absorb moisture or be susceptible to rot. It is also resistant to termites. The Alloy Armour shell contains UV protection and is scratch resistant. It won’t fade under the harsh sun or become damaged with use. Trex and AZEK make building easier Both of these types of alternative decking have complementary products so that you can design and build the deck of your dreams. You may opt to keep the current wooden structure and just replace the planks on the deck, or you can build a new deck from scratch, complete with hardware, decorative trim and railings. The materials are easy to cut and assemble. They can be manipulated just like wood.

Why not wood?

Although pressure-treated wood may initially seem like an affordable decking option, you can end up paying for it over time. According to Azek’s website, the approximate cost of upkeep for a wooden deck is more than $20,000 over 20 years. The cost of maintaining a composite or PVC deck over 20 years is less than $10,000. Wood absorbs moisture. Over time, the absorption of water weakens the structure of the wood. It can splinter, becoming a danger to anyone who walks on it. Even high-quality cedar can rot, posing a hazard to your family and guests. Pressure-treated wood comes in a few different varieties. You can expect to pay top dollar for wood that isn’t full of knots and moisture. In addition, it will still twist and warp over time.

Homeowners can delay structural problems by staining and sealing a wooden deck regularly, which will help keep moisture out, however, it’s a lengthy process that can become expensive over time. AZEK and Trex can simply be washed. Pressure washing can eliminate tougher stains. As we start to long for warm summer nights, it is a good reminder that snow can damage a wooden deck. Using a shovel or ice pick can mar any decking material. Because moisture from the snow can’t seep into AZEK or Trex, you don’t have to worry about shoveling (unless you need to clear a path out from the door). Consider alternative products such as AZEK and Trex to build an attractive, long-lasting, and cost-effective deck.