Re: question about resurfacing decks
From: James Kacki (
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2008 17:34:54 -0700 (PDT)
Trex and similar products are very functional, long-lasting 'fake' wood decking products. Depends on the degree of 'fake' you can tolerate. It does look like real wood (embossed grain etc.) and real wood decking can look bad after a while without maintenance. A word of caution though. Trex and its ilk are individual boards (2x4, 2x6, etc) and so won't provide any waterproofing. They are good when spaced 1/4" or so apart and water can run through to the earth below. But for a second floor balcony deck with living space below, another waterproof membrane is needed. (At least I'm not aware of any Trex products that are larger sheets like plywood. If there are I stand corrected.) To the original questioner, I haven't had experience with products that provide a waterproof 'skin' over plywood, so I can't be of assistance. I'm not sure if your plywood deck is over a habitable area, but if it is , a liquid applied 'skin' over the plywood is not the best way of waterproofing because of the joints in the plywood. A better alternative is a continuous waterproof membrane (with no joints) over the plywood and then a finish walking surface material on top of that.
Many ways to skin a cat -good luck

On 20-Aug-08, at 4:40 PM, Kay Argyle wrote:

Traffic is not the major factor. Weather exposure is - sun, wind, moisture,
salt spray, pollution. Few finishes last more than about two years if
exposed, and, with the exception of only a few tree species, wood
deteriorates without a protective finish. (Unprotected plywood goes downhill

A suggestion of a product for forming groups to look into, to avoid the
question of how and how often to resurface decks from even arising -

About two-thirds of our units have a second floor deck. Due to needed
repairs to the walls below (drainage issues), most were temporarily removed in early '06. We had the choice of having the boards put back or replacing them. After evaluating the condition of the decking, some chose to replace. One or two used "sustainably harvested" tropical wood, but most had Trex
installed, a recycled-material polymer/wood composite (there are other
brands also). It looks like wood, can be sawed like wood, is available in various "wood" colors, or with a matte texture instead of wood grain - and
needs _no_ upkeep.

It's been 2 1/2 years - three summers. If we had gone with wood, we would need to be refinishing again. I don't remember any off-gassing smell (by contrast, most refinishing products are pretty obnoxious). It hasn't faded, doesn't splinter, hasn't warped or cracked or popped the nails like the boards did, doesn't scar as readily, doesn't stain from leaf tannins if we don't get all the leaves swept off before the snow falls (an impossibility), ignores damp plant pots that we forgot to raise on pot feet - it doesn't
even seem as hot under bare feet as the wood got.

It costs more initially than standard decking lumber. The National Park Service is using it for boardwalks in Yellowstone (probably other places as well, but that's the park I've visited most recently) - and given their budget constraints I'm sure they looked into the cost/benefit ratio very

Based on our experience (so far at least), I'd heartily recommend it.

Wasatch Commons
SLC UT - a climate that is hard on wood

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