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TimberTech Info

Timbertech and Azek Deck Building in Michigan

TimberTech products are made exclusively from technologically-advanced materials designed to provide years of low maintenance use and enjoyment. TimberTech decking, railing, and fencing products are covered by a 25-year limited warranty for residential applications and a 10-year limited warranty for commercial applications. The products are guaranteed against termites, checking, splitting, decay, rot and splintering. In addition, Terrain, Tropical, and Legacy Collections are covered by a 25-year fade and stain warranty.

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Made from recycled wood and plastic, composite decking is an environmentally friendly, cost efficient alternative to natural wood, with advantages such as reduced maintenance, color retention and durability. Composite decking does not require painting, staining or weatherproofing. The maintenance that your composite deck will require is periodic washing (1-3 times yearly) to avoid mold and mildew build-up. The added cost of 40%-50% of composite decking over natural wood will pay off in the long run as it eliminates the need of yearly staining, sealing, weatherproofing and the need to replace rotting and splintering boards. Composite decking will never sliver or splinter, which makes it more comfortable for walking on in bare feet and a safe choice for families with small children.

Are you looking for a deck that’s easy to care for? We are proud to offer a full line of Trex and Fiberon low-maintenance materials. Trex provides a full selection of options and the beauty of low maintenance so that you can enjoy more and work less.  Supreme Deck is a certified Timbertech Silver installer.  You can have full peace of mind by working with a professional certified builder. Call today so that we can help you choose from our full line of low maintenance products.

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Michigan homeowners can build in fall and save money!

One of the primary concerns our customers express against fall construction is the effect the weather will have on a new deck and the materials used on the project. We always assure them that the materials are manufactured for this very purpose. Treated lumber, along with composite materials, are conditioned and fabricated to withstand extreme hot and cold temperatures, moisture and humidity, and rainy and dry seasons. 

The transition from summer into autumn is actually an ideal time to begin building your deck. Here’s why: 

1. Shorter wait time

Spring tends to be the busiest season for deck construction. Homeowners are excited to finally end their hibernation indoors and start living outside again. The cold weather yields to the warmer, and everyone starts thinking the same thing – “Let’s move our lives outdoors again!” Our phones at the office start ringing off the hook, which is a wonderful problem to have, but this often results in longer wait times for our customers. The lead time tends to be longer as the schedule fills up quickly. 

In the fall, most homeowners are mentally shifting gears to start spending time indoors once again. One advantage to building your deck in the fall is that you will have your project completed a lot sooner than in the spring or summer. There is a shorter wait time for each project. Plus, once winter passes, your deck will be ready to be used as soon as the first warm spring day arrives. Instead of beginning the project at this point, it’ll already be completed and you’ll be able to focus on landscaping and furnishing your new outdoor area. 

2. Ground conditions 

Another advantage to fall deck construction is that the ground and conditions are more favorable to yards and landscaping. When dealing with the elements, the effects of the entire construction process are often unpredictable as to how much disruption will occur to existing landscaping and turf. Although we always try to be as minimally invasive as possible throughout our construction process, heavier rains lead to muddier soil and turf. Fall weather is typically much drier, and plants and grass tend to be more resilient to a bit of disruption in the fall.

3. Late season specials 

Whether you’re building your own deck or hiring a contractor, you can save some money by building in the fall. Contractors are usually more willing to negotiate on pricing, and it’s not uncommon to find sales on lumber and building materials at this time.

4. Fall weather

Another reason fall is a great time to build is simply because the weather is gorgeous. The cooler, crisp weather is the perfect time to gather around a fire pit on a deck with friends. The comfortable range of temperatures from fifty to seventy-five allows for ample outdoor time. In comparison to the heat of summer and the wetness and rain associated with spring, fall is perfect for outdoor enjoyment. Many of our customers enjoy this time of year to host their gatherings and barbecues. 

There are so many reasons why fall is a favorite season for deck construction. From pricing, to weather conditions, to building process, to having your outdoor area ready to go in the spring … the possibilities are endless.

Best Composite Decking

These are questions we get asked all the time when we meet with clients and for good reasons. There are hundreds choices of alternative decking products and on top of that most manufacturers have several product lines so which one is right for me? When we add to this the fact that some alternative decking products have failed in the early years of the industry, causing companies and products to come and go, this can be a crippling decision.

The good news is that along with the bad experiences there are a lot of success stories that never get published. One of the best ways you can make sure that yours will be a success story is to educate yourself on the product you are considering and understand the pros and cons of the particular product. I stress again the pros and cons. There is not a perfect product that will be the best choice for all consumers and all applications, it just simply does not exist. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. Much like buying a car, one model does not fulfill everyone’s needs. Some people need more space some less. Some need better gas mileage and some prefer more power. The point is the right decision lies in your personal desires, needs, and criteria. If someone tries to convince you that there is a perfect product chances are that they are selling to you instead of educating you.

We can group these alternative products into two broad categories. When we use the term alternative we are talking alternatives to the standard pressure treated Southern Yellow Pine (pressure treated lumber).

Alternative wood decking products

Cedar, Ipe, Thermally modified wood, Bamboo, Redwood, Cumaru, Massaranduba… These are all wood products that are either a different species or they are modified in some way. People that love real wood products will gravitate to these, I call them purist.

Cedar and Redwood are the main softwood players in this category and are rich in naturally occurring tannins which resist decay and termites. Today’s widely sold cedar is not the same as it was 30 years ago. Most of it is fast grown/farmed with very little heartwood so the richness of the tannin is not there, which has jeopardized its performance in horizontal applications such as decking where you have sitting water. On vertical applications it’s still widely used and does fine with a pre-application of stain on all sides.

Ipe, Cumaru, Massaranduba are hardwoods that are harvested in rainforest and are very dense and hard, so hard that Ipe has a class B fire rating and does not float in water. Due to its hardness and natural properties it’s widely touted as being a 50 year lifespan product. These woods have a very rich look that will need maintenance to retain their natural beauty, otherwise they will turn to a weathered silvery grey.

Synthetic decking products

Composite decking, Capstock, PVC, cellular PVC, Wood plastic composites, aluminum decking …etc. All these products that are man-made. I will focus on the ones that are most popular in the Northeast Ohio area, which would be the capped composites (Trex and TimberTech) and capped PVC (Azek Deck) products. Although the exact make up of each product is a closely guarded recipe, they break down into two categories: products contains some real wood content and products with all synthetic materials.

The advantages of adding wood (wood capped composites) to the decking is that it creates a firmer feel and more realistic look, these boards are quite dense and heavy.

The advantages the cellular PVC capped products have is the have less heat retention, no wood or organic materials, much lighter in weight.

Trex Transcends is a capped composite (has wood filler) with the cap on 3 sides. Trex did this so the product can breathe and that the moisture has a way of escape from the bottom (think of weep holes in window approach). It’s available in solid and variegated colors and has a matching railing system for solid colors. Another characteristic of this deck board is that the scratch resistance is really good and the Transcends line is made of 95% recycled materials.

TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions Terrain is a capped composite (has wood filler) with the cap completely surrounding the decking board on 4 sides. Their approach is to seal out moisture completely. This is not their high end line but a very good board for the money. It’s available in solid and variegated colors. TimberTech has a wide selection of railings to go with it including a newly launched Impression aluminum rail.

Azek Deck is a cellular PVC capped board (no wood fillers). This product is capped on all 4 sides and does not have any wood content in it. It’s a lighter weight board and not as dense as the composites. They also have solid and variegated colors available, with the solid colors have a matching railing system. A wide selection of colors and this product is ground contact approved.

There are many more options available and this is only to serve as an overview of some of the popular products in our area. I would recommend asking and ranking in the order of importance the following parameters:

Scratch resistance: How important is this to you? Do you have a dog? Are you the type that is going to notice every little scratch and will this keep you from enjoying your investment? If so go for a product with good scratch resistance and a product where the scratches will not be very visible. They will happen, it’s a floor surface that you wear. Take your keys and scratch a sample piece of decking you are considering using.

Traction: Will this be used year around as the main point of egress? The deeper grain patterns will give more traction in wet conditions. Test out a sample by laying it out and dragging your foot on it, or ask your deck builder to visit a deck with the same product so you can walk on it.

Maintenance: How much effort are you comfortable with? There is no such thing as no maintenance. Everything will require some. The alternative synthetic products are made so all you have to do is clean them, no staining necessary. With woods you will need to apply some sort of deck stain/sealer to prolong the life of it.

Fade and stain resistance: A lot of new synthetic products have a fade and stain warranty (check the fine print most are pro-rated). With a wood deck you can always re-stain, so it is not as much of a concern. The way to test this is take sample pieces of decking and spill different things on them.

Longevity: What is the time projection of your deck project? If you are planning on re-working something or moving shortly, you might limit the level of investment. If you planning on staying a few years the low-maintenance decking products will appeal since they are made to stay nice for a long time. A wood deck, even with superb maintance, will have splinters, grain lifting and cupping years down the road. That’s when these alternative materials shine.

Budget: Here is the reality check, what are you willing to invest? These alternative materials are nice and have great features but they can cost 2 to 3 times the price of a standard pressure treated deck.

Heat retention: Different products will hold a varying amounts of heat, with color being a factor in thermal retention. Decks near pools have this as one of their primary concerns. Take a few samples and set it out in the sun and feel the difference and if you want to be technical measure them with a thermometer.

Color: Does your desired deck board come in the color you are looking for? Does it have a matching railing system? Oftentimes I have seen clients spend much time in doing research only to find out that they do not like the colors the decking comes in. For example, if you want a matching railing system only the solid colors will offer that. If you are going for a black or white rail, any decking color will work with that. Don’t just focus on the decking but consider your whole color scheme. Right or wrong aesthetic is usually what will make the final decision.

Even though there are hundreds of choices, this does not have to be an overwhelming decision making process.

  • Do your own research and consider the different parameter and make a mental list of what will be the most important. This can cut down on your time considerably.
  • Find a deck builder who is will to listen to your needs, share with him your goals and let him help. A good deck builder that you can build a relationship with is a great resource to you since they work with these products every day. This might not be a onetime event. Your deck might need some service work in the future, or you might want to add some features later. Look at this as a long time relationship into which both sides are willing to invest.
  • Ask to walk a deck that was built with the materials you are considering.
  • Establish realistic expectations with the decking product of choice, remember all products will require some maintenance.
  • Look at 3-D design. There are also many programs and visualizers to help you get a concept of how your deck will look.
  • Don’t just focus on one thing like decking materials. A lot of things play into effect to make a successful deck, like design, layout, railings, and location to the sun, house and yard. Consider privacy form your neighbors and existing, or future landscape.
  • Make sure you are comfortable with your decision of product manufacturer. Warranties have a lot of fine print and can be a hassle to navigate through. Most of the time the warranties apply only to the manufacturers own product and are pro-rated.
  • A beautiful and functional deck is one that will take all these different aspects into consideration and takes advantage of them.


Skirting a deck 

A beautifully built deck can be enhanced by a single feature that will add appeal and function by enclosing the underside of a deck with decking material or custom screening. This particular detail I am talking about is called skirting.  While many homeowners prefer having skirting around their deck, others like to leave it open.  This will all depend on your personal preference and your own project.  When considering adding skirting to your newly-built structure, there are several points to consider.

1.       Height of the deck

Most commonly, we will add skirting to decks whose elevations are between 1’ and 4’ off grade. We have gone up to 8’ high on the skirting when the elevation sits higher, but keep in mind that this will often result in a “solid- wall” look.  The skirting will be a very visible part of your deck, so the higher your deck, the more visible the skirting material will be to yourself and to your neighbors. On the other hand, if you intend to landscape around your deck, the landscaping itself might serve as a privacy screen for the underside of the deck.  Again, this will depend on the elevation of your deck. 

2.       Purpose of the skirting

Skirting will enclose the underside of the deck which will hide the not-so-pretty structural members.  In addition for aesthetic appeal, it will allow you to keep miscellaneous outdoor objects under the deck and out of sight.  This includes ladders, outdoor furniture, tools, flower pots, etc… objects that can withstand some exposure to the elements.  Finally, many homeowners are concerned about keeping critters out from under their decks.  While this may be effective to some extent, there will still be some animals that will find a way to burrow tunnels through the ground to make their home under your deck.  The advantage of having skirting is that it will be more obvious by the tunnels you may find giving you clues to these critters’ presence. 

3.       Material of skirting

The most common skirting material used to complete the deck will most oftentimes be the decking material itself.  For example, on a wood deck we would continue with wood decking on the vertical surfaces, and on a Trex deck we would do Trex skirting. This allows for a look of continuity between horizontal and vertical surfaces.  Another option is to use custom-built treated lumber or cedar lattice screens.  This is also a beautiful option providing a closed-off look but allowing for air ventilation.  Lattice skirting tends to be more fragile than its composite or solid wood decking counterparts.  If choosing this route, the wood will have to be treated every few years to withstand the abuse of the elements.  That is also a point to consider- how much time to you want to devote to the maintenance of your skirting material?  One last thought on material options is how your family will use your yard.  If you have little kids that love to play soccer or slug a baseball, a more durable option for skirting that can withstand the abuse might be beneficial.

There are so many options to finishing off the look of your deck.  For some, solid skirting would be the more visually appealing and most functional option.  For others, a custom lattice choice will complete the look.  Finally, plants and shrubs can accomplish the job while omitting a skirting completely.  In conclusion, there is no wrong answer.