Few things feel as rewarding as completing your outdoor living project and settling in to enjoy years of backyard meals, lounging with a good book, or sipping a lemonade with loved ones. But few things are as disappointing as when, after as little as three years, you look around to find your deck has gone from outdoor oasis to seriously faded. Deck damage includes weathering, warping, shearing, buckling, and erosion — and, if you build with traditional wood, it’s not a matter of “if” your deck will experience damage, but when.
At TimberTech, we’re committed to preventing deck damage — and the costly expenses that come with it — through our premium-performance composite decking. Continue reading to learn how our engineered decking protects stay enduringly beautiful, year after year.
What Contributes to Deck Damage?
First, let’s talk about the main source of deck damage: moisture. Traditional wood, including pressure-treated lumber, is cellular, or porous. That means that, no matter how many “protective” chemicals you use to treat the wood, eventually, moisture will get in. And once moisture makes its way into your deck boards, it’s a matter of time before you will have to replace them. Some of the symptoms of wet boards include:
- Mold and mildew growth.
- Warping, buckling, and/or cupping.
- Uneven spacing between deck boards.
- The breaking down of structural integrity (think a springy or bowing feeling underfoot).
What will this look like in terms of the appearance of your deck? Consider this sample below.
Moisture got into these boards, then evaporated when exposed to direct sunlight, causing the wood to crack. Given its porous nature, the interaction of UV rays and moisture will always wreak havoc on traditional wood.
Moisture in wood deck boards can also cause the boards to bow, cup, and otherwise warp. When this happens, there’s no going back — the boards will have to be replaced. The longer you wait, the more structural security is lost.
Every day that passes, the pigment-holding stain of your wood deck boards interacts with powerful UV rays. UV light will both bleach the deck boards and weaken the bonds between the wood and the stain, accelerating fading as time goes on.
Which Material Best Protects Against Deck Damage?
The short answer is: the boards with the least amount of organic material, so capped polymer decking. That said, multiple elements including cost, variety, and design will factor into determining which product line is right for you.
Let’s take a closer look at how each type of deck board defends against moisture — and therefore, subsequent deck damage.
Traditional Wood Boards vs. Deck Damage
Traditional wood boards come in a variety of investment levels — from the more entry-level cedar to exotic hardwoods like Brazilian Ipe — but they all have one thing in common: vulnerability. High-pressure treatments of “protective” chemicals eventually wear off, leaving residue in the soil and your deck boards exposed to moisture, wind, UV rays, and other weathering agents.
The worst part? With regular exposure, it doesn’t take years or even months for moisture to take its toll on wood — see what happened to this cedar point after less than a month.
Cedar board after test applied constant moisture exposure to the bottom of the product for 26 days.
Capped Composite Boards vs. Deck Damage
Capped composite deck boards such as those available in the TimberTech® PRO® and TimberTech EDGE™ lines boast high-performance synthetic capping and a composite core. The core is made from a blend of 100% recycled wood and post-consumer plastic, while the cap is made of a proprietary polymer blend of plastics and high-performance additives. The result is a deck board made from up to 80% recycled material that protects against moisture, mold, and mildew for long-lasting beauty.
Our premium TimberTech PRO line:
- Boasts premium moisture resistance thanks to four-sided capping that encapsulates the board, including into the grooves.
- Protects against mold growth thanks to Mold Guard™ Technology in the cap.
- Leaves no material for erosion-causing agents thanks to no wood in the cap.
TimberTech PRO board after test applied constant moisture exposure to the bottom of the product for 26 days.
Capped Polymer Boards vs. Deck Damage
Our capped polymer boards in the TimberTech AZEK® line feature a 100% polymer cap and core. They include no wood in the core or cap for protection that is unrivaled in the decking industry.
The TimberTech AZEK line:
- Boasts superior moisture resistance thanks to advanced polymer technology and is free of organic materials.
- Protects against mold and mildew growth, along with fading, staining, and weathering thanks to Alloy Armour Technology®.
- Offers all the color blending, grain variation, and complex beauty of traditional wood without the susceptibility to erosion.
TimberTech AZEK board after test applied constant moisture exposure to the bottom of the product for 26 days. Note that the darker coloring on the right is the water gathering on the surface of the composite core — but not penetrating the board.
The fact is, whether you opt for TimberTech capped polymer or capped composite boards, you can expect a weathering-free appearance that lasts for decades to come. Deck damage no more.
When Should You Replace Your Deck?
Not surprisingly, the answer depends on the type of deck materials you’ve built with. Also not surprisingly, wood deck boards will need to be replaced much more frequently than their composite counterparts.
Pressure-treated wood decks only last 15 to 20 years – and need to be sanded and stained every two years. If your wood deck is 15 years old or older, its natural aging process may have made it structurally unsound and unsafe. The older your wood deck, the more frequently you should check for damage.
If you have a wood deck, look for these signs of deck damage at the following four sites:
- Noticeable fading, cracking, or softness on the deck surface.
- Water, moisture, or signs of rot (blackening of the wood) along the base of the deck posts.
- Rot where the beams and joists touch the wooden substructure.
- Discoloration of your deck boards around the deck perimeter or fascia.
And while pressure-treated wood decks only tend to have, at max, 20-year lifespans — even when properly maintained — the TimberTech composite decking portolio includes warranties more than twice as long. We’re so confident in our capped composite and capped polymer deck boards, we’ve backed them up with these industry-leading warranties.
Backed by an industry-best Lifetime Limited Product Warranty and our 50-Year Limited Fade & Stain Warranty.
Backed by a 30-Year Limited Product Warranty and our 30-Year Fade & Stain Warranty.
Backed by a 25-Year Limited Product Warranty and our 25-Year Fade & Stain Warranty.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for an outdoor living space free of deck damage and rich in beauty, our composite decking provides the durability you seek.