Green Shoots Blog
If you’re looking for a detailed review of BamDeck® composite decking, you’ve come to the right place. Our customer Jim from San Diego used Caramel 3G BamDeck to build a beautiful backyard patio and was so pleased with the results that he extended the patio with additional BamDeck a year later to accommodate a new hot tub! Read on to hear about Jim’s experience with BamDeck, as well as some great advice on building and caring for your deck.
I have a 160 sf front deck (south side of my house in San Diego) I built some years ago using ipe. It is beautiful and natural but by no means maintenance free. I spend two – four days per year (probably a total of 16 -20 hours) cleaning, scrubbing and oiling it to maintain its beauty and integrity.
So when I began work on 600 sf deck in the back (north side) of my house, I wanted less maintenance with the same beauty and durability. This took me away from natural wood to a composite of some kind. I wanted a product that:
- Does not have a special exterior coating – even if the ends of a plank are factory coated, the interior is exposed when the plank is, by necessity, cut to length.
- Has uniform color throughout so that surface wear does not contribute to color change
- Does not require bleaching and oiling.
- Is resistant to mold, mildew and staining (say by red wine)
- Is tough enough to resist scratching by a large, happy dog.
These criteria eliminated several popular products including Trex (which has a plastic coating and looks like glued together sawdust internally), Fiberon (which has a more uniform through thickness color but still looks like glued together sawdust) and several compressed wood products that looked like high maintenance to me. In the end I chose BamDeck by Cali Bamboo – and it was a great choice.
BamDeck is made with bamboo strands and high density polyethylene (HDPE). HDPE is an incredibly tough material (that I have used in engineering applications in my work) which has uniform density, excellent sunlight resistance, and is impervious to mold, mildew, acids, bases, and other natural enemies of decking. When you cut a piece of BamDeck, the end does not have that sawdust look. It is smooth, solid and impermeable.
My experience with BamDeck also shows that it resists staining by wine (it just wipes up). Grease will initially leave a dark spot – which strangely enough after a few days in the sun disappears. Maintenance for BamDeck is a damp mop with a little 409. Also, rain is the perfect cleaner. Its weak acidity just washes everything off the deck. It’s amazing.
After using my initial BamDeck installation for more than a year, I added on more decking around a new spa. The color for the new material was a perfect match to what was already installed. There was no color change. Now, it looks like it was all built at the same time.
A few thoughts for the DIY folks out there:
- BamDeck is heavy. The 4 8’ pieces in a box weigh more than one person can easily carry. Get plenty of bodies to help unload your delivery.
- Definitely use the hidden ‘Tiger’ clips for fastening down your deck. It takes a little practice to make the spacing uniform (the angle of that screw does matter). But it makes a beautiful installation.
- Definitely use spacers between planks and at the ends. You will need a few. I cut up a large 1/4″ thick paint stirrer.
- You will have to use a few deck screws in tight places such as against your house or around the edge. Get a good screw the can be countersunk.
- Be sure that the tops of the supporting joists are even. A difference of 1/8” can be seen when the decking is installed – unless you do a lot of shimming. Use a planer to make everything even.
- Slope your deck slightly – 1/8” per foot for example. This will cause the water to roll off each deck plank rather than stand there.
- I didn’t use the thin pieces of BamDeck material that Cali Bamboo makes to use around the edges of the deck to hide the holes in hollow planks. I ran an edge plank (on edges perpendicular to the normal plank direction) and butted the main deck planks up to it. (Note that this takes extra framing to provide proper support – but I think it’s worth it.) I also used pressure treated lumber (that was red tinted and matched my deck color) so that it all blended together.
- Wash your new deck with some soapy water to remove the waxy surface left from manufacturing. Once removed, your deck will clean easy with clear water (or light 409 as I use).
- BamDeck gets pretty hot in direct sun. As a result, it expands and contracts every day as a result of thermal changes. (The ¼” spacing at the ends of planks is absolutely necessary.) The tiger clips allow it to move. Screws don’t – so don’t put any more screws in then you need to keep things aligned.
The article was very helpful. I am convinced about the bam decking material. Thanks for the great deck building tips.