More and more people are realizing the joy of creating beautiful outdoor living spaces – not only for the benefit of adding to the value of your home, but to allow them to enjoy their own back yards! In North America alone there will be 6.5 million decks built this year. Plastic composite decking is expected to see the fastest growth of all decking materials increasing 4.5% a year through 2020. So, a Stone Deck Vs a Composite deck – how do they compare?
Composite decking boards are made of wood and plastic. The wood particles can be anything from sawdust, wood chips, or wood fiber pieces. The plastic components can be either virgin or recycled plastic materials. A stone deck paver is used widely in building and landscaping as it is highly prized for beauty, strength, and durability. Stone pavers are made of many materials including limestone, bluestone, basalt, sandstone, and granite.
Besides the obvious difference in materials when comparing a stone deck vs a composite deck there are some similarities.
The build concept and techniques for both a stone deck and a composite deck are similar. The framing structure for both can be either floated or with footings, depending on the soil conditions. The footings can either be mechanical screw piles or concrete footings. The structure is then framed using pressure-treated lumber. The framing of a stone deck vs a composite deck can be slightly different. According to both manufacturers, using StoneDeks Silca Grate or Evolutiondeck’s Tiledeck you can use a standard 16” on center frame. Some composite boards need to be supported by 12” on center frame to prevent the boards from sagging in hot temperatures. Stone is not affected by heat and thanks to the supportive nature of the stone deck products, it will not shift. Stone will also remain cooler than composite decking boards, but both products will heat up more if darker colours are selected.
From a routine maintenance perspective, a stone deck vs a composite deck, both are considered maintenance-free and will last you a long time. A stone deck simply needs a quick pressure wash to get rid of the grime from winter or when needed. Composite manufacturers, however, do not recommend the use of a pressure washer as this could damage the decking surface and will void the warranty should any condition caused by the pressure washing occur.
Another factor to consider for Canadians is winter maintenance. With snow and ice build-up keeping your deck clear may be a bit of a challenge. So how does a stone deck vs composite deck compare for winter maintenance? Some stone products and most composite products may be affected by salt, so the best option for removing snow and ice is a calcium chloride-based “ice melt” or rock salt. Look for the phrases “safe for concrete”, “safe for flagstone” and “will not kill grass”. Using plastic or metal shovels will not affect a stone deck and any non-slip grit that is applied will easily wash off in the spring. Ice melts with a colorant added, while convenient to see how much are where you’ve spread it – can stain the stone or composite decking. Sand or grit, while it offers traction on slippery surfaces, should be avoided on composite decking as it can damage the surface. Metal shovels or sharp-edge tools are also not recommended for use on composite decking.
When comparing the cost of a stone deck vs a composite deck the pricing is fairly similar. Since both builds, in essence, are the same from the footings to the framing, the difference in pricing will be the cladding materials. The price for composite decking and stone can vary greatly depending on the vendor. Most big box stores can offer some great pricing on weekend or flyer specials – but be cautious! These great deals are usually limited in stock or are based on truckload specials, so if you run out or need more later in the season you may not be able to get the same colour or dye lots. If we look at regularly stocked and available items whether from a big box store, deck store or stone yard you will find that composite decking will run you between $10-25 per square foot, while stone will run $5-20 per square foot.
Whether you decide on a stone deck or composite deck, make sure to consider the advantages and disadvantages of both options before deciding which one is right for you.
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