Project Type: Replace old lumber decking with Trex Composite Decking

Project Cost: @ $13,000

Trex is a brand of composite decking, and it’s really good stuff. It doesn’t rot, is impervious to termites and other insects and lasts pretty much forever. It’s also SHOCKINGLY EXPENSIVE at around $32 per 16’ board, and in some cases, a real pain in the rump to install. However, if you are considering composite decking, keep this in mind: The engineered composite decking itself is immune to rot and insects…but the wooden joists that make up a deck structure are not. It’s a trade-off.

Fortunately, for this client, a well-known business icon living in Country Club Hills, the joists underneath the old lumber deck were in decent shape, and didn’t need replacing. It wasn’t a huge deck, so the labor was roughly $4,500; the Trex was the big expense.

We got the deposit, ordered the materials and the dumpster rental and went to work a week later, pulling up the old deck.

Before pics below:

Also, luckily for us, the client was totally cool with having us just screw the decking boards directly into the joists below. This was fortunate, and saved time (and labor money), because the decking is designed to also be installed with hidden clips that attach to the joists and each other. They make it look great in the ads and promotional materials—but is a major pain to actually install in this manner. (The clips are very cheaply made, extremely flimsy, often crooked—requiring manually straitening out the wonky clips with pliers—and a decent-sized deck requires a dozen boxes of these cheap-o clips, adding to the cost of the deck. And the Trex boards are expensive enough already, without having to buy those crappy ”fastening” clips!)

Again, luckily, the client had absolutely no problem with us using special screws for composite decking (also not cheap) to attach the boards to the joists below. Big win, and made the deck an actual pleasure to install (relatively).

We also replaced all of the deck skirting boards with some hardy, new, treated 2x10s, paying close attention to the edges where they meet. (We chose NOT to mitre the edges together; mitered edges on decks like this tend to separate with age and the elements, so we just lapped them together perfectly.)

(Our friend with the paint crew was planned to come after we were finished, to paint the skirting boards a nice gray color to match the decking.)

That’s pretty much the gist. The client had been traveling for most of the 7 days that we were there, but came back on our last day and raved about the decking and the install job. He might be having us back to give a larger deck out front the same treatment!

*** Side note: This was THE LAST time we worked on, or will work on, a deck in the Summer…we sweated buckets and quaffed gallons of water…and still had to rest in the shade about every half hour or so. We will not be working on any decks going forward in the sweltering, humid N.C. Summers. (But we’d be happy to work on your deck in the Fall or Winter!)