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How to choose materials for a new deck
I am planning to build a covered deck. I have recently been introduced to screw piles as an alternative to concrete piers. Is this a logical alternative? Also, could you offer some guidance on choosing composite decking materials? There are just so many varieties. –Jan Vanderheyden, Via Email
Screw-in foundation posts solve a lot of problems that are inherent with traditional poured-concrete footings. Generally, the screw-in posts are easy to install, movable, height-adjustable and even reusable. They do have a downside: if your ground composition is clay or rocky soil, installation can range from difficult to completely impossible. If you have good soil or sand, however, it is a fantastic product that eliminates shovels, tubes, and concrete completely–but make sure that they are approved for use in your municipality. Your best bet is to contact your local building-code department and see if the posts meet code approval for your area.
As for the composite decking, I’m a big fan of the material, as I have things I would much rather do with my summer days than deck maintenance. There seems to be more and more manufacturers of this type of product as of late, and it can be difficult to determine which will be the best value. My best advice would be to stick with the larger companies that have a proven track record for durability and colour fastness. Ask for references and see if you can take a look at some older installations and see how the decking is holding up. It is a sizable investment, and a little homework can pay off.