Top 5 in Real Estate Network® Members are dedicated to providing you with the most up-to-date, helpful real estate information. This monthly newsletter, "Real Estate Matters," offers articles on a range of topics that will inform you in your real estate pursuits.

Considering a Composite Deck, or Already Have One?

By John Voket, RISMedia Columnist

On several occasions over the years, I have featured reports promoting the advantages of composite versus wood materials for porches, decks and balconies.

But a recent blog from a New England home inspector offers a few words to the wise – whether you already have composite features, or are considering adding or replacing existing deck or other structures with composite materials,

Jason Horn is one of the lead inspectors at Stonehollow Inc. ( He was recently inspecting a decade-old home, specifically two decks constructed of a composite, maintenance-free materials.

He discovered several issues including boards cracking and splitting along the edges caused by incorrect spacing during installation. He also found deterioration of the wood joists under the composite decking because while wood decking absorbs moisture and releases it, composite does not.

So, moisture trapped under the decking and on top of the joists can keep joists from drying properly - becoming more susceptible to rot and decay. Some other issues to consider according to Horn, are:

Cost: Traditional wood decking goes about $15/ sq. ft., while composite decking material is $30-$36/ sq. ft. And labor cost tends to be higher due to additional steps that are required during composite installation.

Scratching: Composite decking combines wood and plastic, but the material is not indestructible. The surface of the boards can be scratched rather easily, and composite decking can’t be resurfaced.

Stains: One of the most common complaints about composite decking is mold. Horn says composite decking requires special cleaning chemicals to kill the mold and remove some of the finish. But this leaves decking more porous and susceptible to future mold growth.

Color fade: Horn knows wood decking can fade too, but you can re-stain wood. He also says there are products claiming to restore stained composite decking, but did not speak to their effectiveness.

Painting Kids' Rooms: Tips and Tricks to Get It Right

Looking to set up a nursery or revamp the color of your tweens bedroom? Painting is an easy and cost-effective way to create just the right atmosphere. But knowing how to get started can feel overwhelming. These tips will help you choose the best type and color of paint, while keeping the process quick and stress-free.

Sheen Savvy -Sheen determines how shiny your paint looks when it's dry. Choosing the right sheen adds the perfect finishing touch on a room, and it can make a big difference when it comes to cleaning up.

Semi-Gloss - Brings a soft shine to the room without being overpowering. It's good for kids' rooms because it's durable and easy to clean. You can wipe off crayon and pencil marks with common non-abrasive cleaners.

Eggshell/Satin - Has a smooth finish with a subtle sheen, and is washable and scrubbable.
Flat - A beautiful matte coating with no shine. It is ideal for low-traffic areas and hides minor dents or nicks best.

Choosing Colors
For many DIYers, choosing paint colors can be a tricky and time-intensive process. There are so many options and many people worry about making a big color mistake.

Get inspired - Look through magazines, websites such as Pinterest®, an online pinboard, and even at friends' homes to get some ideas.

Try them out - Once you've narrowed down your color choices, try out your top picks to see how they will look in the room with your specific lighting conditions.

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