Please Read this Personal Story All
the Way to the End
It will come as a shock to many who have never had a composite deck or porch made from one of the new, high tech so-called "low maintenance" composite decking materials: Most composites fade and some fade very badly. Now there may be some that do not fit into this category (I know of only one: GeoDeck™)... but it is true. Most composite deck materials fade and some fade very, very badly. Some composite decks can also stain horribly in some cases. For example, a few years ago I replaced the deck railing cap on my own deck with a rather well known composite decking. It was advertised and promoted to me as "cedar". I must admit, when it was first installed, it did look much like cedar and it was very, very attractive. Frankly, I loved it so much I talked a close friend of mine into using it on his whole deck floor and deck railing cap and fascia trim. He loved it! But as time went by it turned more and more to the color of sickly flesh. Actually, more like leprous flesh. This is not good. (For a rather chilling example, read about the national Class Action Suit against Trex for allegations that Trex decking is "defective" and will "rot, splinter and degrade")
To add insult to injury, it seems to be a magnet for stains. What is more, everything I have tried so far has not removed the stains. I used straight Clorox and pressure washed up close... nothing happened. I was sick. My friend? Bless his heart, he has not complained to me one time. Today I carry a piece of this (well known) composite decking with me whenever I do On Site Design work to show my clients what NOT to buy and why. Click on the link to see photos. Please do not be fooled by advertising claims. If it contains WOOD, it is subject to extreme fading, staining, water absorption and decay... regardless of what their ads say. Experience is the best teacher.
A friend of the family and an excellent carpenter (who used to help build my decks) asked me to design a deck for him and his wife. He has a large, beautiful and well thought out house he built himself and I quickly agreed. I worked with Bill and Kim and drew up both the Preliminary Plan and even the full set of Building Plans for him. In the process, I showed him new samples of the composite I had used on my own deck and (still at that point) thought so much of. I recommended he use it. Bill and Kim fell in love with the samples. They were going to use it. I just knew they would be thrilled with their new deck and I left their house feeling pretty self-satisfied about my good deed. Some time later I got a call from Bill. He said, "Hey Mike, I finished my deck. You gotta come over and see it. I didn't use that composite decking you showed us, though. I found something a lot better." I said, "Really?" (But I honestly didn't think he had found anything better.) He said, "Yeah. It doesn't seem to have the drawbacks of the other composites and it has a matching railing, too... and it's really, really pretty. Come on over." I said I would and hung up. Well, I got busy and didn't make it over to Bill and Kim's for maybe a year or so.
In the mean time I began hearing more and more about a certain composite decking that doesn't fade and doesn't stain like the other composites made of wood, and then one day it clicked: "I think THAT was the composite that Bill used on his new deck!" I was almost sure it was. I called him and asked. Bill told me, "Yes sir, I used GeoDeck decking and railings and boy am I glad I did. Hey, you never came over to see it! When you coming?" I told him I would be out that week. I went and saw not only a beautiful deck done in GeoDeck™ "mahagony" but a gorgeous matching railing and a deck that Bill claimed did not fade from the samples he had. Neither he nor I could tell the difference. He had not cleaned the deck in 6 months and I noted some stains from leaves and dirt from what appeared to be our wonderful Virginia red clay. He said, "Oh that is nothing. I just pressure wash it with nothing but water and the stains come right up. I once had a tough hamburger grease stain under my grill. That didn't entirely come up with pressure washing but by using a wire brush and detergent like they tell you to use it all came up." Bill told me to be sure and come back after he had pressure washed the deck and take some pictures. I plan on doing that.
He went on and explained how easy the material was to install, how strong it apparently was, and how truly easy the railing was to install (not typically the case with man made rails)... and how he loved the fact that the warranty was twice as long as most the others he'd researched. But he also told me the things he didn't care for. He said he installed the railing on the outside of his deck floor (manufacturer calls for railing installation on inside of deck floor) and therefore had to rig crush blocks to support the middle sections of each rail. "Not a big deal, just one slight drawback that really isn't GeoDeck's fault." He also said that a bracket on the railing had to be trimmed back in a couple of situations. Again he admitted that no one else probably would notice it... but he was a perfectionist and so he felt compelled to point it out. I have got to tell you: Bill and Kim are absolutely thrilled with the GeoDeck™ composite decking and railing. Frankly, I am glad Bill did NOT take my initial advice about the composite that I was recommending at that time. I think he found a better one and I'm glad for him.
That was my introduction to GeoDeck™ decking and railings.
Since then I have done more research into this fine composite. It is my humble opinion that it is currently the best available for several reasons. The biggest reason is that the stuff just doesn't fade turn color hardly at all. I have not only seen it with my own eyes on Bill and Kim's deck but I have also seen five (5) year photos of decking compared to new decking in all the colors they make. Results? It would take a keen eye to discern any difference. See for yourself...
But here is the kicker:
You and I know that if other composites did not fade, they would be bragging about it in all their advertisements... because their competitors DO fade. Well, just for fun I went through the latest copy of Professional Deck Builder magazine (Sept/Oct 2003) and carefully read all the large, expensive ads for composite decking. There were nine (9) ads for nine (9) different composite decking products in this issue... most claiming they were the best by the way. Know how many said anything about being fade resistant? None of them. Not one.
Evergrain® didn't mention fading at all (page 3).
Why do you suppose? I think the reason is obvious (and for liability reasons) does not need to be stated here.
On the other hand, whereas GeoDeck™ did not have an ad in this issue... here is what the manufacturer states in their brochure:
Under the manufacturer's FAQs you will find the following question and answer:
Question: "Will GEODECK™ fade over time?"
Answer: "GEODECK™ boards are highly fade resistant and will exhibit minimal weathering over a period of years." [emphasis mine]
The following photos compare new GeoDeck with 5 year old "weathered" GeoDeck. You tell me how much color GeoDeck loses.
So why am I making such a big deal over this issue of fading composites? Because I am sick over my own deck and because I do not want you to make the same mistake I made. Who wants to spend all that money only to find that the composite turns to a different and funky looking color? I don't. Do you? Who wants to spend all that money only to find their composite deck rots, splinters and degrades? Be sure to read the Trex Class Action Suit article for what this suit alleges about this typical "wood flour" composite.
Do yourself a huge favor and get GeoDeck™ decking. I have every reason to believe you will be glad you did. It is made not from wood flour but from a byproduct of rice stalks and is not subject to the same problems. [Click to visit the Online Deck Cost Calculator and compare the prices of a deck built with GeoDeck, pressure treated wood or Ipe. It also spells out the cost of GeoDeck railings, Fairway Vinyl Railings and Ipe railings per linear foot.]
One more thing: You can mix and match GeoDeck™ railing colors (decking and railings come in "cedar", "mahogany" or "driftwood") with your deck. Or what really is striking is a GeoDeck™ floor with a white high gloss (no/low maintenance) Fairway® Vinyl Railing. You can get free samples and literature of all of these products and even get a discount by mentioning my name (its OK to be a name dropper in this case). Just click on the links above and email or call the Wholesaler/Retailer. He mails free samples and literature and delivers all of these products worldwide. That's right... anywhere in the world... to home owner or to contractor.
Just more information on excellent products and excellent services from Mike and your friends at Virginia Decking & Remodeling.
-- Mike French/owner
Independent 3rd party testing for water absorption... more science to show that GeoDeck is the best overall composite decking solution in the industry. Read it for yourself.
Latest Trex® Horror Story
I would like to request some free samples of your geodeck deck material in any colors you have available. I put trex on my deck three years ago and now it is staining, and breaking down almost to crumble and looks awful. Trex is offering to "make me happy without claiming responsibility" so they will give me credit to replace my deck. I am looking for other composite products as I am afraid to buy trex again even if they say it is improved.
Virginia Decking & Remodeling LLC