There are many different brands, and grades within those brands, of composite.
Designing a composite deck can be a complex undertaking.
There are so many things to consider: Shell or no shell, hidden fasteners or face-screwed, two-toned or mono-toned?
Some manufacturers have boards that others don't - like fascia and handrail parts.
But if you are patient and diligent, it is well worth it in the end!
We all know that
composite decks take away most of the maintenence headache of owning a deck. The quality brands only have to be washed once a year.
You also avoid splinters, rotting, and the general drying-out, twisting, warping and separating you get with wood.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE COST?
A good composite deck costs at least twice as much as a pine deck, sometimes more!
The pricing between brands can vary widely. There are a few brands
that we like to use that are on the lower end of the price spectrum BUT are in the high end of the quality spectrum. When the price difference between two brands can be thousands of dollars, but there is really no difference in quality, the choice is simple.
But be advised - there are several brands
that we won't even be discussing with you because they are so low in quality, while still expensive, that it would just be a waste of your money.
One of those brands is carried by the local homestores. Long story short about why we ignore that brand, and why you should to:
We've had two clients insist that we use that brand before and both times they paid us again to come tear it back out! It's that bad.
There are NO distributors for composite decking in Arkansas.
This means that it has to get ordered. And "Special Ordered" at that, which means there are no returns.
Ordering from out-of-state means there are freight cost involved. Depending on the size of the deck, those freight costs can range from $700 to $1,500 - or more!
Sure, we can order it from the salesman at any of our local Lumber Companies, and sometimes that may reduce the freight charges. But that lumber company is then a "middle man" that makes money on the deal when all they do is essentially make a phone call to order the boards. And it ends up being the same or worse than paying freight. Plus, it adds another person into the mix which complicates matters and causes more delays.
I currently have one
resource left where I can order your composite directly and avoid middle-men that just take more of your money unnecessarily and are too busy stay on top of the order.
Sometimes you will want me to quote your deck using pine and give you another quote for using composite. I'm happy to do it!
But please keep this in mind:
Certain factors about the design have to change when we use composite. not to mention that we get in to all of those "choices" we talked about.
Do we put a pattern in the flooring?
Are we covering the entire frame and stair structure with composite?
Do you want a composite railing (if the brand you choose has it)?
Or to save money, do you want a wood railing that you will stain?
When using composite, you either go all out and cover everything, or you find a stopping spot.
*Most people find a stopping spot due to the even higher cost of the railing parts or the fact that some of the railing looks cheap or isn't very structurally sound.
The reason I mention all of this is......
When I draw your first plan I will include the exact total for using treated pine. If you asked for a composite quote as well, it will be a "Ballpark" quote due to the things I just mentioned and to help you decide if its worth pursuing further.
I recently presented a plan with a treated pine total and a composite ballpark to a client. I informed them of the many choices still left to be made if they wanted composite and that it would affect the price. They decided to go with the composite. They were sure!
By the time we got done picking the exact brand, colors (some colors cost more than others), changing the floor design to include a different color border instead of letting the flooring hang off the frame like it would if it were pine, deciding about the railing, and talking about
what all would and would not be covered with composite, the exact total came out about $6,000 higher than the ballpark!
Now, there were some other things that caused that as well.
Freight charges fluctuate with the stock market.
Some of these composite manufacturers raise their prices on a regular basis no matter what!
The distributor can also raise prices.
But PLEASE know this:
I spend about triple the time figuring a composite bid as I do figuring a pine bid.
It is NOT in my interest at all to get you on the hook with a "ballpark quote" and then come back with a final cost that is out of the park!
I do NOT charge you more for labor when you choose composite - unless there is a feature that really requires more time, and that has never amounted to more than a couple-hundred dollars. And.... I inform you if this is the case.
So........ no matter what my first email says to you, if the pine quote is 8k and the composite ballpark is only 13k, that means I obviously missed something since I wasn't taking the time required to fine-tune it; time you asked me NOT to spend since you weren't sure if it would be in your ballpark anyway. Just expect the pine quote to at least double
if you change it to composite.
And just know that any amount higher the final cost is from the ballpark that it is ALL due to things beyond my control.
On composite decks our profit is literally the same as it would be if we used pine. And at an average of $70 for a single composite board, there is no way I can absorb any differences between quotes.
We LOVE to build with composite! Our clients LOVE their composite decks!
But they are very expensive.
Due to things beyond our control, the cost could literally go up overnight.
This is why we stress to our clients that once they agree to the final plan & price that we need to sign the contract quickly and get the materials ordered!