All Hands On Deck

decking 0519
A Trex “Havana Gold” sample on the Evergrain catalogue.

Nothing — and I mean nothing — about having a house built is simple. Even things that sound and seem innocuous. Don’t believe me? (Or maybe you do. Play along anyway.) Examples abound.

Flooring. When I spoke with Cynthia from Green Building Supply, the oak hardwood she assured me was sustainable was supposed to be in their warehouse, and shipping would commence no later than a day after ordering, provided the day after wasn’t a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday. (Okay, that’s a fair number of caveats out of seven options.)

Dusty ordered on a Friday, so flooring should have gone out the following Monday, and I’m thinking that was two Mondays ago. This company is in Iowa; our flooring should have arrived a week ago Friday and been sitting open for acclimatization purposes this entire week, ready for installation next week.

Is that what happened? No. As of yesterday, the first of four shipments was sitting in Grand Junction, where FedEx Freight will grab it, but only on Fridays. This is what happened with Lynn’s shower, which toured the entire country before arriving weeks after it launched. No word on where the other three shipments might be. Dusty is thinking/hoping the package in Grand Junction is the hardwood, which has to go down before anything else, and is the one item that needs to sit for a week.

So even if it arrives this Friday (it’s not clear to me that FedEx Freight arrives every week — maybe just when there’s enough freight to make the trip worthwhile), it has to sit for a week, just in time for Dusty to take another week of vacation.

“End of June” is starting to feel like “end of July” for a move-in date.

So ship happens, and maybe we get floors. Then there’s the gas fireplace, which needs a top and a bottom. Dusty asked us about top options a couple of weeks ago, and we looked at some things, and I told him what things we had looked at, and he said he would put together a proposal for us. The e-mail I got this morning asked, “Have you thought about what you want to do with the fireplace?” While I generally am a fan of circles, some of them just give me a headache.

But here is today’s bigger headache: decking.

The deck, which is planned for the south end of the house, has been held out since early in the budget process as a place to cut costs. We could leave a rail off, or just put foundation stuff in place and finish it sometime down the road if we were going over budget in too many other places.

Dusty has decided, looking at the budget, to move forward with the deck. This may be because every other project has to wait on something else, and the deck sounded simple: pick a color from Evergrain and go.

Decking, it turns out after today’s rather extensive research effort (which will make me late to work yet again — I might just as well make 10:30 my scheduled arrival time), comes in many forms: composites — such as Evergrain — wood, PVC, plastic (not sure of the difference, but websites keep making a distinction). And every article has an opinion about which is the best option. Every person’s “best” is of course different.

Dusty hadn’t given us options: he just said Evergrain, and asked what color. He brought us a sample kit that was supposed to have all the colors but only had seven of 16, and a catalogue, where it turned out that Evergrain comes in four options: basic, good, better and luxury. My research has provided one difference: basic means “uncapped,” while the other three are “capped,” or coated with a plastic finish. Dusty recommended looking at basic, and since the color options were small and mostly missing from the kit, suggested we look at larger samples at Western Lumber. That was his mistake.

Western Lumber used to be owned and operated by Dale and Donna Garrett, who impressed their two daughters into service as well. Now the Garretts have retired, and daughter Roxie has impressed her two sons into service. I think son Preston looks like a pirate (that’s a compliment), while son Chris is more reserved. [I should mention that up until recently, Dusty was a Blue Mesa Lumber shopper. But Roy retired and sold to Alpine Lumber, a chain, so now Dusty is feeling his way through a new relationship.]

Poor Chris came over to see if he could help us, just after I had wiped a serious layer of dust off the samples of three of the five basic Evergrain colors. Chris did not help. Okay, actually he offered a lot of information, but he moved us thaaat much further from a decision.

No, don’t look at Evergrain basic was his first recommendation, because the cap makes for a better product. His next recommendation was Trex composite decking over Evergrain. Cheaper by about $1 per square foot, he said, and the sample he sent home with us was a nicer color than any of the Evergrain samples in their showroom.

Then he told us we’d need to decided whether we wanted top-in screws or side fasteners that are hidden from view. Then he recommended redwood over any composite.

I reported all this to Dusty, who first said he prefers cedar over redwood, and then assured me we wouldn’t want real wood due to the maintenance. Lynn seems to be in agreement with him, but I’m not so sure after my morning research project.

Dusty said he hadn’t recommended Trex because of a 20-year grudge against a product that didn’t work well, but he allowed that improvements may have been made since then. While I can find people who like Trex, I found several detractors, including a forum stretching from 2016 or so to the present. While people had gripes with the product itself, they were infuriated with an unresponsive company. Apparently the 20-year warranty isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

Chris did tell us yesterday that most of a composite deck isn’t covered by a warranty, not the cost of disposal, nor the labor, nor any of the underdecking. So caveat emptor.

Everything I read this morning suggested maintenance is required on composite decks as well. They need to be washed or power-scrubbed to fend off mold and mildew, and the color is going to fade. I did find one post from 2014 by a Crested Butte builder who liked the Evergrain he installed as his own deck, but also photos from a deck dealer who had pictures of stained Trex stored alongside other brands that didn’t stain. (That entire thread was devolving due to a troll who bad-mouthed anyone who dared bad-mouth his beloved Trex, so I gave it up.)

Trex. Evergrain. Cedar. Colors. Railing, or not. (If we’re 18 inches above the ground, we need a railing. But Dusty could pile more dirt along the deck to get us to 17 inches.) Embedded railing, which is sturdier, or along the outside.

This all seemed so simple yesterday morning.

One thought on “All Hands On Deck

  1. I’ve had both. Wood is better but only if you put in the significant amount of work to keep it better. Seriously. A significant amount of work – every season. I have no opinion on Evergrain vs. Trek – I think our previous one was something else. But it looked nice, only required washing (we used a power washer, a hose would work) and held up nicely. We now have a composite deck and it’s also holding up just fine – three years in. And it’s the builder grade so I’m sure it’s some form of “basic…”


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