The One About The Deck Stairs Betraying Us [No One Was Hurt]

CLOSED FOR REPAIRS… hopefully sometime in the next year, but who knows?

• • •

Our deck is 21 years old and we need to replace it.  To wit the top section of the wooden stairs have fallen apart.

Dramatically, in fact.

You see, the top section of the wooden stairs gave out as Zen-Den started to walk down the stairs to join me on the terrace below.

I saw it happen.

Fortunately Z-D is fast on his feet which is kind of amazing for a chubby older fellow, but there you have it.  He didn’t get hurt.  He used to be athletically-inclined, played team sports, so maybe those experiences helped him in the moment.

Still, unnerving.

  • Did I mention that the deck is 8-9 feet above the ground below?
  • That Mr. Man jumped about 6 feet down to the ground as the stairs gave way underneath him?
  • And that the look of amazement on his face was one for the ages?

Like I said no one was hurt, but now the long tedious process of finding someone reliable to replace the steps, and the deck, has begun.  Spring 2021 seems to be the earliest anyone can get to us.

Of course it is.

Nothing more to say here except stay safe, kids.  When things fall apart may you land securely on your own two feet.

• • •

Questions of the Day: Does anyone have any experience with OR advice about having a deck replaced?  Did you go with wood OR composite?  Did you go with a dark stain/color OR a lighter one?  Did you pick metal posts OR wood or composite?  How did you decide who would build the deck?   

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Ally Bean

Observant. Humorous. Adaptable. Charmingly cynical. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted by choice. Fond of words.

156 thoughts on “The One About The Deck Stairs Betraying Us [No One Was Hurt]”

  1. Yikes! I have had that nightmare thought of a deck railing give away – and it’s a lot further than 8 feet to the ground.

    We had our entire deck replaced about 5 years ago. I wouldn’t say we were entirely happy with the contractor though decks is what they do. The decking and rail tops are composite, medium brown (yes it gets hotter than wood would). That part I like, because it looks better. The rail structure is wood and the contractor told us we didn’t need to treat it – wrong!!! That has been a bit of a pain. We have some metal posts and the rest of the support structure is wood.

    Best wishes on a happy deck future!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eilene, I was wondering about how much heat would come off of dark composite colors. Thanks for the tip. Painting/staining the rails is the worst part of maintaining a deck. I can understand your pain. I love our deck, but without functional stairs it is kind of a goner.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, that could have had an entirely different outcome ending with Z-D in traction or worse! You both must be enormously relieved!

    I’ve hired contractors to replace two or three decks over the years – always went with wood because composite was still too new and expensive. I do like the low-maintenance feature of the composite, though, that said, in some regions, a funky black growth turns up on surfaces – something that bleach doesn’t touch. Air pollution?

    I suppose if I were in your shoes, I’d ask myself how much longer will I be using this deck?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maggie, yes we are both grateful that he didn’t get hurt. The look on his face when he landed was one of complete amazement. He didn’t initially realize what had happened to the stairs.

      Did not know that about black ickiness on composite. THAT is something for me to research. We’ll be using the deck for another 10-20 years so I want it to look nice, but considering this builder grade one lasted 20+ years going with wood again might be ok for us.

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  3. Questions of the Day:
    Does anyone have any experience with OR advice about having a deck replaced? YES
    Did you go with wood OR composite? WOOD ~ it’ll last 20+ years and will be someone else’s problem at that point
    Did you go with a dark stain/color OR a lighter one? Gray stain, as mandated by our HMO
    Did you pick metal posts OR wood or composite? Our posts are deck pilings (like in a marina)
    How did you decide who would build the deck? BFF built it. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nancy, good answers. While I like the idea of composite because I’m lazy, I also like the fact that we can stain the wood different colors when we want to. Our current color is gray, not because of the HOA but because we liked it. Before that it was dark brown.

      I’ve not seen any decks around here with deck piling like a marina, but we are in the middle of the midwest so that makes sense. I can guarantee you that Z-D won’t be building our new deck, but lucky you for having an in-house builder.

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    1. Donna, I’m also glad that Z-D landed on his feet. It was a weird moment. I like having a deck so getting it replaced is a priority. I suspect I’ll be learning A LOT about them in the coming months.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a repair I would tackle myself, but for a deck 8-9′ off the ground, I would make sure the contractor is licensed in your state, fully insured, and I would make sure he (or you) pull a permit. Building codes, as the apply to decks, specifically how they are anchored to the house and supported, are constantly being updated. If the contractor doesn’t want to pull a permit, I would not use him/her. You already have the deck, replacing it won’t affect your taxes.

    The underlying structure should be pressure treated. It should be firmly anchored to the house. Wood or composite to suit your taste. We used composite material on our decks/steps. It doesn’t have to be stained/painted, but it does have to be kept clean, and if you get snow, you have to use plastic shovels to clear it. Keep in mind that it does get hot (specially darker colors) and it holds the heat. Also. make sure you check the manufacturer’s recommendation for joist spacing if you go with composite decking.

    I am very glad Z-D didn’t get hurt. As you rebuild, make sure he won’t have to remain athletically agile for the next 25 years.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dan, THANK YOU! This is all good information. I didn’t know about how building codes change but now that you mention it, of course they do. That is a vital piece of info.

      In theory composite sounds like a good idea, but the more I’m talking with people about it the more I’m wondering. Considering we have a few months to decide I’ll investigate it thoroughly. [Well, even if we didn’t have the months, I’d investigate b/c that’s who I am.]

      Made me smile with your last comment. I think jumping down that far once is a gift, but doubt he’d be that lucky a second time.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been after my other half to replace our deck for years. It’s old, splintering and staining it on my hands and knees every few years is starting to be painful. My advice? Go composite. We did it to our small kitchen landing/porch and live it. Tough, rugged and though much more expensive initially… care free. As for railings, we just did curved metal and love the clean modern line.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Rivergirl, I like the look of the curved metal, too. It’s more inviting than our current wood posts that are reminiscent of an old-fashioned child’s playpen. I’m just starting to research this project and composite is a contender. I hear you about the work involved in staining wood. Been there, done that.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh boy, can I relate to Mr. Man’s fall! Only I didn’t have his agility and broke my ankle in late summer of 2013 when the deck step gave way beneath my weight as I was stepping on it and BLAM! We both crumbled. At the time our deck was 24 years old and the step on just on the ground. After it happened He-Man and I were surprised the step lasted that long! There’s a picture of me in my green cast on IG. 😀

    Our deck was wood, build on foundation blocks, stained in a lovely brown color, but the step was on the ground as I said. We had bids to have it built out and went with the same company that replaced our fence several years prior. Their bid was in the middle and we knew they did great work. He-Man bought some more deck boards and built the new step himself. That was easy for him to do.

    I’m so glad Mr. Man/Zen-Den is quick on feet and didn’t break anything! Good luck getting someone out to repair/replace the deck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deborah, oh no! I’m sorry to read that you broke your ankle stepping off a deck stair. That is awful. You’re better now? No lasting damage?

      Our deck has been through three color changes over the years. First cedar color, then dark brown, and finally medium gray. I like being able to change the color so composite would limit me.

      Finding someone to do this work is not going to be easy. Plus we’ve got winter coming so I figure it may be a year before we get this project finished.

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  7. Your guy must be part cat…what a story!
    😎
    If you do go with composite, do your homework as to the basic types…some are too solid & heavy and actually sag if used as long strips (the original brand did that) others are more brittle…but there’s more choices than when we had our deck done in “Timber Tech” back in 1999/2000. And be sure whoever installs it is skilled in working with composites – they require specific blades for cutting and also framing methods. I think it’s worth the investment – we had no problems with it for the 10+ yrs we lived at that house, and of course, it’s maintenence free! We loved it – and no problems with it being too hot under barefeet, either.
    Good luck – a fun summery thing to think about as winter approaches!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Laura, thank you for the information about your experiences. I don’t know anyone in real life who has a composite deck so this is new ground [so to speak] for us. The blade thing is a fascinating bit of info. You’re right, this will be a good summery project upon which to muse as winter closes in on us.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Whoa. Hope those foot arches and metatarsal bones got some care after that. Whew. Glad he’s got good reactions and strong bones.
    We had a wood deck at our old house – after someone fell through a board, jerked it out. Luckily it was only a foot off the ground. Splinters were always a problem. Replaced with Pavestone which was beautiful – even if a bit hotter than wood in summer – lovely on a sunny day in winter.
    Daughter has a composite deck – no splinters. Brushj with soap and water once in a while. The good part is that they come in colors, but they do get hotter on bare feet. Check all the brands. And everything that Dan said is worth reading twice – great advice and on target.
    More crime tape!!! Makes your blog capture readers HAHA

    Liked by 1 person

    1. philmouse, we both are glad that Z-D landed safely. It. just. happened. It was weird how quickly the steps fell apart. And not weird in a good way either.

      I know there are various brands of composite and that there are about a million color combos available. Considering I haven’t gone barefoot on this deck for years [because of splinters] not being able to do so on a new one would seem normal to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I like the slide idea for now – some of my neighbors have done that since they have kids! Glad he wasn’t hurt and the deck can hold up for awhile giving you time to decide!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ellen D, the slide idea is a hoot. However, I think we’ll just avoid the stairs entirely. The deck itself is okay for now, so like you said we have time to decide. But this is not going to be simple, of that I’m sure.

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  10. All the marinas here are replacing wooden piers and walkways with composite, because it holds up so well. They generally use a nice gray, sort of the color of your deck, since it’s marginally cooler in summer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. shoreacres, that’s interesting. If there was ever a place that’d know about making sturdy walkways it’s a marina. I like our gray color. It blends nicely with all four seasons.

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  11. I’ve become something of an expert at walking on questionable wood given that treading on empty wood pallets at work is an unsafe, but often necessary evil to getting things done. That said, I wouldn’t want to walk on one that was 8 feet up in the air and trust my judgement at where the weak points might be… so Z-D gets the prize for agility under pressure. He could be an honorary squirrel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. evilsquirrel13, I bet you do have to walk on some dodgy wood pallets. That’d be weird, but doable obviously. I’ll let Zen-Den know he’s attained the status of honorary squirrel. I know he’ll be thrilled because who wouldn’t be?

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m glad your husband was not hurt. Our deck has no floor at the moment, waiting for son to put new wood on it. I’m keeping a stool in front of the sliding glass door so that I won’t forget and step out at night to see Mars. I’d see stars instead.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I always wanted to have a deck.
    I now realize that having a patio is a much safer option.
    I am glad your husband wasn’t hurt but I have no recommendations about anything of this nature. My brother is very handy and that gene did not pass on to me. He does, however, live only an hour north of you so if you need some help, let me know.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kari, if I had my druthers I’d like a patio, but our house is on a hillside [sort of] so a deck it is. Or isn’t, I guess, right now.

      Honestly as much as I like sitting on the deck as we go into winter I’m in no rush to get on with things. You have a brother, you say…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Lol he built his entire deck by hand. He’s very talented. Jesus would have asked him for carpentry advice. And I’m not really religious. 😉

        Seriously, he’s always open to helping and he has his own home inspection business in Columbus so I’m sure he knows lots of contacts in that range of business. Let me know. I’m happy to be a liaison in the deck world of which I know absolutely nothing. 😘

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you. I’m a bit farther south than your brother but if he knows of anyone in the Cincinnati-Dayton area I’d be grateful for the suggestion. And I am grateful for your liaison help, too. ❤️

          Liked by 1 person

  14. How scary! I hope Zen Den felt no pain the next day either.
    There’s always something to fix when owning a house. $$$
    We’ve only had railings on a deck replaced by a neighbor. He did great work and did not charge much.
    Good luck and I hope you can get it done before spring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beth, Zen-Den was no worse for the experience. It happened so quickly he didn’t tense up as he landed. Neighbors around here don’t fix things, of that I’m sure. We’ll find someone to do the work, but it’ll be next spring or summer before this is all fixed. Nothing is simple or fast. 🤷‍♀️

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  15. My deck is 23 years old so will eventually need replacing also. My repair contractor showed me a composite that looked very nice(like wood) but without the issues that we are all dealing with. It’s probably more expensive but long time will hold up better. (especially in my damp climate) I would choose the color according to your house. I don’t like super dark or light decks, but that’s just me. Mine is a medium reddish brown called Red Cedar. Glad ZD wasn’t hurt and that he still has his residual leaping ability!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margaret, I’ve only seen composite in photos not up close. That, of course, will be something I’ll need to do. I like the idea of no maintenance, but I think around here you have to power wash a composite deck a few times per year. Plus they scratch so shoveling snow off of them might be an issue.

      I agree about coordinating your deck color to your house. That’s how we ended up with the medium gray deck color we have now. It blends with the grayish cast in the bricks.

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  16. So glad to hear no one was hurt, and ZD got to display some rather unexpected superpowers. Yay! While I know nothing about decks, I’m a fan of using Angie’s List when looking for top-rated pros for home repair stuff. Stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deborah, Angie’s List! I’d forgotten all about it. That’s a great idea. In our previous home improvement projects we got a suggestion of who to use from friends/neighbors, but no one we know has had a deck replaced so we’re on our own with this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I have no advice about replacing a wooden deck/stairs because the care and feeding of one section of 6′ fencing put me off having wood ANYTHING to care for. It’s endless IMHO. But.

    Questions of the Day: Does anyone have any experience with OR advice about having a deck replaced? Asked and answered above.
    Did you go with wood OR composite? I understand composite lasts longer and is easier to maintain.
    Did you go with a dark stain/color OR a lighter one? What’s YOUR preference? If it were me? I’d go with a colorless varnish/stain and leave the natural wood to show through.
    Did you pick metal posts OR wood or composite? For durability, the metal posts are the best choice, but do they blend with the rest of your deck/railings in a pleasing way? Composite.
    How did you decide who would build the deck? Research vigorously. Read the comments and reviews on the potential contractor’s site, and act accordingly. It pays to know if your contractor is a sleazebag and usually the reviews will reflect pretty accurately how reliable a person or business is. Cost would be the overwhelming factor if I were doing such massive re-construction. Decks and stairs (from what I’ve read about them) can be spendy. I know you and your hubs (glad he wasn’t injured) will make good choices!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Melanie, “endless” is a perfect way to describe it!

      I hear you about the benefits of composite. I know there are various companies that make the stuff so that’s another variable to consider. I like the look of metal posts, but only if I can pick the color of the metal.

      You are so right about researching these people and companies before we start the project. Considering we’re going into winter and there’ll be no construction for a few months I feel like we have the time to make our decision at a more leisurely pace. But eventually we will have to make one.

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  18. Sounds like a slap-stick moment that was hilarious despite your worry/relief that hubs was okay. I remember years ago being in the car with my husband and his mother as we waited for his father to arrive. Down the driveway slick with wet leaves he ran — and fell flat on his derrière. We laughed like lunatics while poor Raymond dusted himself off, happily unhurt. Where are you located? Amazed that you would have to wait so long for service — unless in France?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. MELewis, you’re right it was a slapstick moment. I was about as stunned as my husband was, but we did laugh once we realized he was fine. And the deck stairs weren’t.

      We’re in the midwest US and according to what I’ve found out so far, there are few builders who replace entire decks + there is a shortage of materials with which to build the deck. This whole issue isn’t a tragedy, more of another example of how 2020 is the suckiest year ever.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Very apt aphorism for these times. Our deck needs to be redone, too. Charlie repaired the stairs, but he ran out of steam before he got to the deck. Fortunately, he raised handy girls, so they’re going to take care of it. They would have helped while he was still around, but he liked to do things himself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marian, I enjoy the deck but I’m less than thrilled with it at the moment. You can understand why. We won’t be able to do this work ourselves so we’ll have to find someone– and that is never as easy as I hope it’ll be. You’re lucky to have handy kids.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. We have had some seriously rotten luck with contractors. I think composite would be less maintenance. Too bad you didn’t capture the almost fall on video, that sounds insensitive- of course I’m glad no one was hurt. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ernie, we’ve had good and bad luck. This deck situation isn’t an immediate problem, but has forced us to start looking into an area of homeownership that we’ve not dealt with before. Have I mentioned how tired this year is making me?

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  21. So glad to hear he survived so you could tell the story. Whew – I don’t think I would have been that fast on my feet and would have found myself landing on another part of my body. 🙂 Composite will last much longer, look better, and have no upkeep. We did a porch and two entries last year. The color is what I’d call medium, like oak. We used white accents for the stairs and railings. We used a gentleman that my husband knew from golf. It took longer to get him here but it always does, but he did a great job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judy, oh if I’d been walking down the stairs I’d fallen and broken something. No doubt.

      Your experience with composite is encouraging. Your color choices sound pretty, not too extreme. I know there are many colors available which may be a good [or bad?] thing for me, a notorious dither-er when it comes to color decisions. But first we have to find someone to build the darned thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Funny, not funny. He was lucky this time round. I wish I could offer wise words about what is best but I don’t know anything about that kind of thing Ally Bean. A temporary long levelling slide, pretty and green so it’s colour coded with the garden and environs? So you can glide and slide down slowly, maybe using cushions to sit on as you slide? Glad no-one was hurt, but cool cats always land on their feet even if 8 feet below …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Susan, exactly! We laughed after we both realized how lucky he was and how funny the situation was. I tell you, the look on his face. I like your cushion idea should we install a sliding board, which I kind of doubt is going to happen. Try your hardest not to be insufferable. Before this incident the whole new deck issue was theoretical, but now it’s a priority.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Well, it’s too bad you couldn’t take a video of that fall! Sounds like you have your fall and winter booked for research. No advice to add. You have a lot of good stuff here. Back when I had a deck it was wood (way before composite) and I’d never do that again. Too much upkeep for me and the splinters! Yikes! I’m fortunate to have pavers (which I’d never do again. You have to have the sand replaced every few years. My next patio will be stamped concrete.) I’ve seen composite decks (very popular in my neighborhood) and they look great. Good luck and stay off the stairs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kate, you’re right that I’ll be researching this deck topic for a long time before we commit to anything. I’ve never seen a real life composite deck, only photos of them so my first priority is to get some samples of the stuff.

      Interesting you mention pavers. We have an area where we are considering using them to create a small patio. Not really sure if we’re going to do that but will keep your advice in mind. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not true. We have had our pavers redone twice in the years we have lived here. (Yes with polymeric sand) Eventually, the sand breaks up and weeds grow. The last paver reno was this past spring and it looks wonderful now but it will have to be done in something like 5 years. Maybe our weather is more severe than in your area.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Maybe it’s not old enough. It definitely is much better than regular sand. I think after we had it done, we didn’t have to redo for like 8 years or so. This summer after the reno it was (and still is) gorgeous. I should have taken a picture before with the crop of weeds growing between them! 🙂

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  24. I don’t envy your project of finding someone to redo your deck. It’s an easy business to get into thus a lot of people are doing them that don’t know what they are doing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean R, you’ve nailed the problem. Lots of people claim to build decks, but I don’t trust them. Without a reference from someone I know and trust, I’m lukewarm about hiring a stranger to build this structure so far above ground.

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    1. Marian, really for me the point of this post is that he didn’t get hurt. It was an odd experience. Of course, now we have to deal with figuring out everything about a new deck, so… *yay* I guess.

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  25. I wish you lived nearer – we have a great hardscape guys. Removed and replaced a large deck in less than five days. In the winter! We decided against the composite as it was much more expensive and the deck was about ten feet from the patio below and the composite can sag. We went with a natural redwood color which goes nicely with our grey house. Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jan, you’re the second commenter to mention that composite can sag. INTERESTING. I am torn between doing what has lasted for 20 years [wood] or going with the newer stuff that is easier to maintain [compost]. Luckily we have a winter to figure it out.

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  26. I’m so glad no one was hurt. I like the bit of funny you have here. I’m so sorry you now have to replace the deck. We were interested in building a deck ourselves, to go off our porch, but the cost quoted to us was astronomical. Hopefully your deck people will give you a fair deal but excellent quality work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kate, this was one of those funny experiences when looking back at it. In the moment it was wacko and scary. No one was hurt which was good, of course. I am wondering how astronomical this will be to replace the deck, but we’ll find out. A new adventure in homeownership.

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  27. Ally, Is that yellow tape I see? Chubby, older fellow, fast on his feet, whew! For a second there, I thought it was my husband. Thank goodness all okay. And, yes, there is always a lesson. “When things fall apart…..”. Lots of decisions on the deck. You will likely be pleased with many of the newer options.

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    1. Erica/Erika, I’m sure you’re right. Newer decks are much more stylish than the one we have. Still, to see Z-D jump like he did was a moment in time. His face, the end of the steps– it was something. Ever onward, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

  28. I’m glad to hear ZD is okay. That could have been less good! We’re replacing our deck this year (next?) and using composite because it doesn’t get hot like wood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Katie, another person in the process of getting a new deck! I’ve never seen a composite deck in person nor touched one, obviously. Good to know that it doesn’t get hot like wood. In the photos they are beautiful.

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  29. Yikes! Your poor hubby!!! Glad he is OK. We had our wooden deck replaced with a composite one about 10 years ago. Amish guys did the work. It looks good, but it’s hard to keep clean, and using a power washer on it voids the warranty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laurie, interesting. A couple of other commenters have mentioned that it’s difficult to clean a composite deck. I didn’t know about the power washer warranty issue. That’s really something for us to think about. Thanks for the heads up.

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  30. Glad to hear Zen-Den landed well on his feet. It could have gone badly but for good reflexes and a solid landing.

    Our deck was also over 20 years old and I’d had concerns for a few years that there would one day be an ‘incident’. I promised Husband I would divorce him if I went through the deck one day. Luckily it didn’t come to that 😉

    We replaced our deck this summer. Our deck is 20’x16′ and we went with a composite in a light colour with a dark border. The railing is tempered glass with light-coloured posts. I had heard about composite getting really hot in the summer heat which was my major concern. Our backyard has a south exposure and gets very hot. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the composite hasn’t in fact been hot so that was one unnecessary worry. Maybe it was the choice of light coloured boards.

    The contractor we used was the same guy who did our son’s bathroom and kitchen renovation. He had been recommended by a friend of our son’s and we were completely happy with him and his work.. In fact we’ve rehired him for our bathroom renovation which is scheduled to start at the end of the month. That renovation I’m not looking forward to quite as much. It’s going to get messy 😏

    I love our new deck and I’m sure you will love yours too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, I’m glad you didn’t have to file for divorce. So much easier to have someone build a new deck for you.

      I like our current medium gray color so if we go with composite that’d be my first choice I think. It’d be a light [lightish] color. I like the dark trim idea, have never seen a deck with tempered glass. That is intriguing. We have a southern exposure too, so we’re concerned about how the summer heat will impact whatever we put there.

      The company who did our kitchen and bathroom renovations doesn’t do any outside work which is sad for us. Like you we were happy with them and would instantly hire them to do the deck. I look forward to reading about your bathroom remodel. Ours was worth it. We enjoy it every day.

      Thanks for the information. We don’t know anyone in real life who has replaced a deck, so I thought I’d ask the blogosphere for some insights. And my oh my, have I got some!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s too bad I can’t attach a photo to my comment – I’d send you a photo or two … although I’m sure there are tons on the webs.

        We also had LED lights installed in the risers of the steps. I love them. At first I thought they were just another techie kind of thing that was going to make my husband happy, but they look great at night … and you can see the stairs! What a novelty!!

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        1. I’ve seen photos of composite decks and I’ve seen those lights. I wondered about them, of course. Seeing the stairs you say? I like that idea. Another thing to keep in mind as we plan this. Thanks for the idea.

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  31. We are the idiots who do the work ourselves. We (and, by “we” I mean mostly my husband) built our deck about 20 years ago. We used composite then and are close to replacing it with composite again. They have come a long way with colors and durability. Another reason I prefer composite (besides the low-maintenance and no splinters) is that you don’t see nail holes. I saw, unless you can afford Epi wood, go with composite (and share the pictures when you are done).

    I’m glad Zen-Den is fine… too bad you didn’t have your camera 🙂

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    1. Janis, I hadn’t thought about the nail holes. We have about five gazillion of them on our wood deck. Would be nice to not see them. I’ll share photos but this won’t happen until sometime next spring or summer. We are having a difficult time getting someone to look at/quote the project, let alone do it.

      You’re right. A photo of his face would have been classic. I mean, he just didn’t have a clue about what had happened, but knew we were safe.

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  32. Wow – the possibilities are endless what might have happened had Zen-Den been daydreaming. Very scary. I don’t have a deck, so I can’t contribute any insight, but my good friend who lives in NY noticed the integrity of her wood deck failing fast with loose boards and the like and they got a composite deck about a year ago. Her and her husband are in their mid-60s and it was recommended by the salesman as no maintenance is needed and she lives in an area with whopper snow totals and bad Winters, so a composite deck will better weather those conditions. The photos of the finished work showed a beautiful job and it looked better than real wood. I’m not surprised they are booked up – people wanted pools and decks for staycations this year (and likely well into 2021 as well).

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    1. Linda, interesting to know about your friend’s experience. I wondered how the composite would work during heavy snowfalls and apparently quite well. I like the look of composite that I’ve seen in photos, but have never seen it at anyone’s house. You’re right about how these decking companies are in high demand now that we all are staying home more. This deck is a problem we knew was coming, just didn’t expect it to present itself so dramatically.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ally – if you’d like I’ll put you in touch with Carol to pick her brain. I did that once for Joni (“Homeplace Web”) because she was getting a new dishwasher and asked me questions – I’ve never had a dishwasher, but Carol is a foodie and uses hers constantly and had just bought a new one at the time, so I funneled Joni’s concerns to Carol who gave her some info and pointers. Also Kate Crimmons, when Mollie was sick, I asked Carol a question Kate posed about procedures. Carol had three cats, lost two of them within a year … devastating. They were both older cats – the one she took to every specialist in the Rochester, NY area trying to find a cure, so I knew Carol was up on current ultrasound procedures/meds.

        As to the deck, they were pleased with the job – I know she posted pics, maybe while the work was taking place.

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  33. About a year ago our “deck” (more of a mini landing and stairs that lead from the 3-season porch to the backyard) started having floorboards come loose, as in you step on one side of a plank and the other side pops up. Not safe! This led to us finally doing that long-wished-for construction project. Ergo, in a week or two (after months of working with the construction company) the 3-season porch will be torn down down, replaced with a mudroom, and we’re adding a small sunroom where the deck-that’s-really-a-landing used to be. Off of that will come a very small deck (again, more of a landing) and it will be composite, composite, composite! We had a wooden fence at our old house and we learned that we are very good at blowing off the annual maintenance of anything wooden. When we bought this house and it was time to replace the falling-down wooden fence, we went with composite. Love it. Glad to hear Den-Zen wasn’t injured!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Travel Architect, your enthusiasm about composite is encouraging. I’ve never seen the stuff in real life which is making this decision more difficult. We, also, are not the most attentive to maintaining outdoor wooden items which is why we started looking at photos of/talking about composite. Your remodeling plans sound wonderful btw. I bet you’ll thoroughly enjoy your new configuration of rooms. And how exciting that it is about to begin this month. Fingers crossed all goes smoothly for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. That is so very scary and the outcome could have been very bad if not for an athletically inclined and fast on his feet Zen Den.
    We don’t have decks here, so I have not a clue. I do know that we put in a fence a few years ago that is a composite material and it is amazing and will hold up long after we’re gone.
    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Suz, yes, Mr. Man was fast and lucky. It was one of the strangest moments of my year– and that’s saying something in 2020. I’m reading good things about composite so it is definitely still a contender. If we could have had a patio I’d have preferred that, but around here with the hills to sit outside you have a deck.

      Liked by 1 person

  35. WHOA! What a jump down your fella did! I am totally impressed. That must have been quite a show to watch–once you knew everything would turn out OK. Our first deck kinda rotted off the house and we replaced it. We bought greenish wood that oozed out sap, and that hasn’t been fun, but the second deck has lasted longer than the first. You had better not ask too many questions of me. Barry keeps all the deck stats in his head and I just tell him when it needs staining–or he recruits me. Decks! They’re worse than kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kathy, laughing here. You’re right, decks are worse than kids. It’s always something with them. I like them in theory but when it comes down to maintenance I get irritated with them. Still we’ll have to do something with ours.

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  36. Glad Zen-Den was okay. Ally, I used Veka brand composite decking when I built my new deck, in gray, with white vinyl railing. I researched it extensively and some of those other composites have wood in them and don’t hold up. I interviewed quite a few deck companies too, (5 or 6?) and chose the one with the cheapest price, as by then I knew what the price should be and he underquoted it by about $6000. The sales rep ended up getting fired a few months later, as he had misquoted quite a few jobs, but the company held to ther quote and I got a great no maintenance deck for a great price, basically what it would have cost me to have a wooden one done. Good luck with your search.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joni, I’m glad you got your deck at a better than expected price, but what a story. I’ve not gone so far as to research composite brands yet so thanks for the heads up. I also didn’t know that some of the brands had wood in them and I find that very interesting. This deck topic will be THE research project of my winter. I wish we could ignore the issue of replacing the deck, but we can’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This was about 8 years ago. I remember there being a class action lawsuit against one of the other composite makers because their product had not held up and seeing pictures of mold and mildew etc, which is why I went with the Veka brand…..lots of colors too, but a bit more expensive. I’ve done a lot of renovating and always do lots of research and get at least 3 quotes as being female you can get taken advantage of pricewise as they figure you don’t know any different, something they are less likely to try with a man.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Some commenters have mentioned the issue of mold/mildew on their composite decks. That’s worrying to me. I’ll make sure to determine if the brand we pick is a good one.

          We also get more than one quote for anything we do around the house. I’ve no doubt that being a woman means some contractors try to take advantage. I mean they do that we us, husband & wife. Some people are crooked no matter what they do or who they are doing it for. 😒

          Liked by 1 person

  37. So glad Zen-Den wasn’t hurt. It’s amazing how muscle memory kicks in during times like that. I’m a former gymnast and whenever I fall, I do it well (spectacularly at times) and without injury (knock on wood, or composite). We went with Genovations decking when we had to rebuild our deck here. We used it in Ohio, too, when we built a deck there years ago. The deck in Ohio has held up amazingly well, still looking almost new, in spite of the fact that we’re renting the house to our youngest son and his family (they are not known for taking good care of things although, to give them credit, they try).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Robin, you’re right, it was muscle memory in action. I didn’t know you were a gymnast. I’ve no doubt your falls are a delight to behold.

      Thanks for the info about your decks, especially the one in Ohio. I’ll take a look at the brand you recommend. This project will be a major one so I’m going to look carefully into all things deck. Not exactly because I want to, but because I need to. 🙄

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  38. You won’t be sorry if you spend the money now and go with a good composite. It will be the last deck you put on.

    We just replaced the wooden deck on the lakehouse and never hesitated to choose composite. My husband is a carpenter/builder. We also have a composite deck at home, one of the first composites ever offered almost 30 years ago. That one does get frightfully hot, but its boards are solid, made from mostly ground wood and plastic (Trex). It still looks fantastic, however, and we’ve never had an issue.

    Our new deck is not that stuff. It’s heavy duty plastic, but has a hollow core. This allows it to stay cooler. Sagging doesn’t happen if you have proper framing. Our rails are cable and posts topped by a slim composite handrail. We wanted to be able to have a largely unbroken view of the lake. We also used it for our boat dock. We power wash it as well as just use a soapy broom. Of course, I can’t remember the name of the product we used for the decking (my husband built the deck), but I can find out if you would like.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nance, THANK YOU FOR THIS INFORMATION. You’ve real life experience with composite which is something I/we know nothing about. We’ve looked at the Trex website and the decks all look great [but of course they would there]. Oddly enough we don’t know anyone with a composite deck so I’ve not seen one in person.

      Our current problem is getting someone to build the darned thing. There are only a few companies I know of that rebuild decks [many just repair]– and they’re very busy. Because our deck is high off the ground I want the best company to build it, having seen what happens when a part of the deck gives out underfoot. 😳

      If you think of it I’d love to know what brand of composite you have. There are many more brands from which to choose than I ever realized before I started researching this project.

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  39. Well, I’m late to this party and have no useful information. (I don’t even know what composite means in this context.) But, I learned a lot about this topic just from all the comments. It won’t really come in handy for me (I have a cement patio, which is just what I wanted because I am TIRED of taking care of decks), but it’s always good to be reminded of how many things you have to think of to really do things right when it comes to house projects. (I tend not to realize this until half-way into them, which is always a source of regret.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rita, if we could have had a cement patio I would have picked that. But our house is on a hillside and it has to have a deck if we’re to sit outside out back of the house. I’m grateful that so many commenters shared their deck stories because it gives me good info about what to do. Just wish I didn’t have to deal with the deck, but you own home & this is what happens.

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    1. L. Marie, no one was hurt but it was a surprise. I’m not thrilled about needing to have the deck replaced [who would be?] but it will be done. Probably next spring, maybe next summer. In the meantime, I’m learning about decks.

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  40. I would have probably broken my neck. Glad he landed ok. My other half is a significantly good carpenter and so we build all our own stuff. I personally love wood and with an older house we felt composite didn’t look right so have done cedar. We’ve finished the planning in a high quality stain that supposedly last years but seems we are only 2 years out I can’t say for sure. All of our railings are cedar that he milled down and I have painted with a good quality cedar recommended paint. Yes it’s work but it gives us the control and the look we wanted.
    I also echo someone else’s suggestion to check at your local home builders store to find out about local contractors. They know who is good or at least they do in my small city. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bernieLynne, you raise a good point about how with wood/cedar we’ll have more control over the color of the deck. Considering the builder grade wood deck on this house has lasted over 20 years [with our care of course] it’s difficult to dismiss using wood again.

      And yes, I am so glad that Z-D wasn’t hurt when the steps gave way. It was a moment, one that we could have done without but did bring home the fact that it’s time to get a new deck.

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  41. I’m glad he wasn’t hurt!! Our decks have always been wood, except one we lived in briefly when we moved to Virginia. We recently purchased a little condo that needs its porch redone. The railing is coming loose. We will replace that with wood to keep in alignment with all the other units, but we did hear that we can use composite for the floor part and will probably do that from a maintenance standpoint. We completely rebuilt our front deck on our current house a few years ago (sometime since I’ve had the blog because I shared it there). Our home is gray and so I went with a whitewashed gray, but it does tend to show more dirt, which given that it’s the north side of the house was probably a mistake. The back deck was already a darker reddish/orange tone so we’ve repainted it that way. My preference for new decks is stain over paint, but I don’t always have a choice. lol. I design and my husband builds, so I have nothing to offer around that. For the front deck, we used wood railings that we did horizontally. The back deck has vertical metal rods between the wood pillars because we purchased the house that way.
    Best of luck and I hope you are able to find someone sooner!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amy, thanks for all the information about your deck experiences. I find your details about colors and stain/paint interesting. On the one hand, considering we’ve had the current wood deck for 20+ years and it’s held together until now, I’m leaning toward wood. But we’re getting older and maintenance will be less *fun* so composite sounds good. I like the idea of metal rods between wood posts, just to add a bit of pizzazz to the deck. We look into the woods so anything that allows us to see more nature would be great.

      Liked by 1 person

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