There are many products on the market today to choose from. The bigger names are Trex and a AZEK. They typically command a higher price, but they have gone through some rigorous evaluation and testing and are proven products. I recommend that you always go with branded names, especially on a deck product that you expect to last. These well-known manufacturers are offering 25 year warranties with the proper installation of the product.
The manufacturer of composites typically have wood by products (sawdust, wood chips and PVC). We can create an extremely strong product that looks just like wood and at the same time use organic materials. This helps to offset heavy weather conditions like sun and rain and gives you a fairly maintenance free product.
With composite boards you do not need to be painting staining or providing any kind of a treatment to your deck. This is a savings on an annual basis for maintenance, such as painting staining that you no longer need to do. High end composites tend to maintain a nice appearance from the day that they are installed.
One of the beauties of composite decks is that you have the ability to combine different colors and design that can make your deck a standout deck. You do not have to worry about the effects of the wood since everything is consistent. There will be no slivers and no nail pops to deal with.
With the composite decking you have various choices on rail systems that are anywhere from composite to metal to full plastic that will give you years of maintenance-free service.
The structure is built with pressure-treated lumber and there are composite trim boards for landings and stairs. They can all be built out of composite material that will cover all of the exposed pressure-treated lumber and give you a beautiful overall look.
The major con is the one that always comes to the top of the list which is the price. Composite products can be anywhere from 50% more than standard treated lumber. Cedar falls somewhere in the middle of those 2 options. The top-of-the-line product is going to be a Brazilian wood.
Installing a good quality deck will increase the value of your home, but it may not necessarily get you the return on your investment. This is more determined by the area that you live in. The Atlanta market has a tendency to get you a better return on your deck investment if you put the proper deck in and if you use a quality deck. Some composites use a greater amount of recycled materials. Keep in mind that this is not an industry standard, but varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.
If you're looking at composite to replace pressure-treated structural wood product, then this would not be the way to go. Composites cannot be used as a structural build out. Composite colors blend throughout the product and these colors cannot be changed. You need to be very cautious as to the color that you choose and make sure that you choose the right color from the beginning. Wood product can be changed in color.
Bear in mind that the darker colored composite materials may fade in time with full exposure to the sun combined with high traffic. If the deck boards are scratched and they have deep gouges, it will be difficult to repair.
It is important that you take the time to evaluate all product that is on the market and all manufacturers to make sure that you choose the right product for your living conditions. It is not recommended that you choose the cheapest product. These tend not to hold up.