azek decking

Low Maintenance Exterior Upgrades, Part 1

Today’s trends: 1st in a series of 3

It’s here. That time of year… when hopefully, we all get to enjoy more of the “good life” on Cape Cod. And without question, that goodness includes spending more time outdoors.

As such, the focus of our home improvement business turns to exterior work. Exterior painting is a big part of it, of course. But more and more, our clients are interested exterior upgrades that look great, require little to no maintenance, and are made to stand the test of time.


Trend #1: Decking

If you are fortunate enough to have a deck (or the space to build one), you know that a great deck is a quintessential symbol of summer leisure. One drawback, however, is the yearly maintenance that needs to be done in order to get your deck in tip top shape each season. If sanding, painting and sealing is on the to do list, then you might not be able to open up your deck as soon as summer really hits. It’s most definitely a weather-dependent project, so rainy days and iffy conditions could result in a long lead time.

The answer? Synthetic (composite) decking, or certain hardwoods that will naturally resist rot and decay. The upfront costs of a low maintenance deck are higher than if you were to simply apply new stain or paint, but once you’ve made the investment, it’s pretty much wash and go.


Synthetic / Composite Decking

Azek and Trex are two popular composite decking manufacturers, but certainly not the only players.

This type of decking material is made up of a mixture of wood fiber and plastic, combined with U/V inhibitors, preservatives and pigments. The key benefits are a long life span (and long warranty), and very low maintenance. All you really need to do to care for a synthetic deck is scrub it periodically with soapy water and give it a rinse.

Another plus to going the composite deck route is that all of the “accessories’ – railing, posts, treads, etc – are available to coordinate with whichever decking configuration you choose. And one final thought: don’t let the word “synthetic” worry you. Most companies fabricate their boards with highly recycled content.

azek decking
Composite decking. Photo:


Low Maintenance Hardwood Decking

Although composite decking can be truly beautiful, some people think it just doesn’t have the look or feel of real wood. If this is you, you’ll be happy to know that there are low maintenance hardwood options, too.

Ipé (pronounced ee-pay) wood is one such option. It is naturally resistant to fungus, rot and termites – and it is extremely hard, so it will resist scratches and stand up to rough use. In fact, the famous Atlantic City boardwalk in New Jersey has been re-built using ipé as one of the two primary species of wood.

Sustainably harvested from Brazilian rainforests. ipé is a natural wood similar in appearance to mahogany. It’s become popular not just for decking, but also for patio furniture. It can last outdoors more than 25 years, and it is so hard and dense that it has the same fire rating as steel and concrete. Similar to teak, it can be left untreated and will gradually turn to a muted silvery color over time. Some people choose to apply a stain to preserve the wood’s natural warm color.

NJ boardwalk
Ipé wood on the NJ boardwalk. Photo: NY Patch


Considering a low maintenance deck? You can start by checking out different decking and railing options locally at MidCape Home Centers and Shepley Wood Products. Pinterest is always a great source of inspiration, too. Then contact us to schedule a no-obligation estimate for a new, no fuss deck.


Next up: Trend #2: No-Fuss Exterior Trim






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