Check over the results of virtually any home improvement survey, and you will see that adding a deck consistently ranks at or near the top of the list in terms of both desirability and payback on investment. If a deck is high on your wish list, one of the primary decisions you are no doubt struggling with is what type of decking material to use -- natural wood, or one of the new plastic composite materials that have been getting so much attention lately. The relative advantages and disadvantages of natural wood are pretty well known. On the plus side, there is the pure, natural beauty of wood, something the composites have been striving with mixed results to emulate. In the eyes of many homeowners and builders alike, nothing can ever replace the subtle grain variations and smooth glow of a piece of redwood or cedar, or one of the hardwoods such as teak or Ipe. Then there are the obvious drawbacks to wood, which include splintering, cracking, insect and water damage, and the...
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