In the past, when homeowners wanted an elevated backyard deck, natural redwood or cedar was the material of choice. However, like any natural wood product, these woods tend to splinter and split over time and usually require a periodic re-staining or oiling.
There are new products on the market that eliminate many of the shortcomings of natural wood. Trex is one such product. Trex is a wood-polymer lumber made from reclaimed plastic and wood waste in approximately equal proportions. The reclaimed plastic comes primarily from shopping bags and stretch film; the wood waste is primarily comprised of hardwoods. Trex is substantially more durable than the 100% vinyl or plastic wood products that are also available.
Building a deck with Trex requires no special tools. It cuts, rips, routers, and sands much like natural wood. It contains no toxic preservatives, so it is safe to handle and the waste scraps can be disposed of in the municipal landfills. Trex is a low-maintenance, environmentally responsible product that is also resistant to termites, ants, rot and decay. Trex boards come in 2 x 4, 2 x 6, 2 x 8, and 5/4 x 6 dimensions. Though not rated or approved for structural use, they make an excellent deck.
Once you’ve completed your project, I’d recommend not staining or sealing it. The Trex product will age to closely resemble grayed cedar and will require little or no maintenance. When considering the low maintenance, the cost is competitive with any good wood decking material. The value added features I especially like are the slip resistance and the fact that it won’t splinter.
In planning your backyard deck or walkway, do yourself a favor and look into the environmental and family friendly products made from wood-polymer recycled materials. You’ll be grateful for the weekends you will never spend re-sanding or re-staining and for all of the splinters you’ll never pick up with your bare feet.