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You can get the look of wood without the splintering, rotting and discoloring that eventually claim most wood decks if you choose a composite material made from plastic and wood.

The one I like best is Trex. Trex is a wood-polymer lumber made from wood waste from hardwoods mixed with reclaimed plastic from shopping bags and plastic film. Trex is substantially more durable than the 100 percent vinyl or plastic wood products on the market.

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. It makes an excellent deck, although it’s not rated or approved for structural use, so you should not use it for primary structural members, like beams or joists.

There’s no need to stain or seal composite wood. Composites like Trex will age to closely resemble grayed cedar, but it won’t splinter or check like solid wood, and it will require little or no maintenance.

It’s slip-resistant, and it costs about the same as a good wood decking material.

As you plan your backyard deck or walkway, do yourself a favor and look into the environmental and family friendly products made from composites made from wood and plastic. You’ll be grateful for the weekends you will never spend resanding or restaining, and for all of the splinters you’ll never pick up with your bare feet.


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