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(National) Aug. 30, 2004 - Like a growing number of people, the Perries built their deck out of synthetic boards, even the railings. They chose synthetic decking over wood, because there's no risk of splinters, and it requires a lot less maintenance.
Consumer Reports has tested more than a dozen brands of synthetic boards. They come in a wide variety of colors. Some even have a wood-like grain. The boards are made of recycled plastic or a combination of plastic resin and wood fiber.
John McAloon says after a year-and-a-half out in the weather the synthetic boards look pretty good even without cleaning, "There's no cracking, no splintering, no mildew and almost no dirt."
Compare that to a wooden board nailed right next to them, "You can see here in this pressure-treated pine these cracks that you don't see in the plastic. This is only a year-and-a-half time."
Consumer Reports' tests show even boards that have been coated with a deck treatment don't hold up all that well, "You can see from these pressure-treated samples just how much maintenance is required."
And, deck treatment has to be re-applied often. Clear treatments must be re-applied every six months to a year.
The Perries find maintaining their synthetic deck is much easier. Paul Perry says, "I spent two hours two weeks ago with a rented power washer, and I'm done for the season."
Synthetic decking costs about the same as cedar and around twice as much as pressure-treated pine, the most common type of decking.
Consumer Reports named five brands of synthetic decking Best Buys. They cost between $300 and $450 for 100 square feet. The Best Buys are:
ChoiceDek sold at Lowe's
Eon and Veranda from Home Depot
WeatherBest and Geodeck sold in independent retail stores