Products and Materials we like:

This is where we'll talk about our favorite composite decking and the best aluminum railings and other stuff like that. I do NOT get any kick-backs or benefits of any kind for any of my "favorites" here. The only benefit to using anything I recommend is that I will know you are getting what my skills and experience tells me is the best thing for your deck and/or budget.

You have a lot of questions about composites and cable railings and all kinds of things and this page will be a great resourse for that. But always feel free to email me with any questions whatsoever.

Things below in blue are links.
Click them to find out more about that product.

Trex Composite Decking:

Ok, so we use far more Trex than any other composite decking. Well here's why.....

Trex is a great product. It is chosen by more deck builders than any other composite, and I'm basing this on all of the private and public deck builder and construction groups I'm in on the internet. I see the other guys from around the country talking about it every day. And my distributor (where I order my composites and railings) tells me they sell more Trex than any other brand.

But that's not the reason.

We don't recommend it just because everyone else is using it. We like it because it has performed for us and our clients for over 30 years. In a side-by-side comparison with the other top brands, you, like us, will come to feel that Trex is superior to most and maybe equal to a couple others. So for the ones it may be equal to - even equal in warranty - price breaks the tie. And helping price break the tie is the fact that Trex can be trusted to be there to back up their product because they've been around the longest while every other brand has come & gone. And being around the longest means they've scienced their way out of all the issues and struggles, like fading, warping and more. 

But back to price....
Trex ends up being cheaper than all the other good brands. *If you find a brand cheaper then it's cheaper for a reason and it's probably not qualified to be compared to Trex. 
But Trex is cheaper BECAUSE it's been around so long! The other brands are still young enough that they are still trying to get their initial investors a return and to do that they have to charge more (since they inherently don't sell as much). So they may have a great product, but if it's no better than Trex and it costs more, why would you choose it?

Even if you find that a brand is made right here in Arkansas, that doesn't mean it will be cheaper - or even easier to get! If I can't pick it up right here in Central Arkansas then we'll have to pay shipping AND tax on it. So it's best to just let me order what you want from my distributor. We only have to pay freight that way. And that same argument applies to getting something Special Order from Lowe's, Home Depot, or any local lumber company - My distributor ships it right out, or holds it until the exact moment we want it. The other places take weeks or months (because they "won't run a truck unless it's full") and they destroy your composite with their forklifts by handling it several more times than it has to be handled by adding that unnecessary middleman (not to mention that extra middleman tacks on to the price!). 

But just know this....
I will be glad to use any brand of any material you want on your deck. If it's horrible but you insist (yes, we've had this demand before) then I'll have to amend my contract to reflect that YOU are choosing something we don't recommend. But we'll still get it for you and do a great job installing it for you! 

I periodically research all products in our industry. I've heard of most, but you may find something I haven't heard of yet. But as far as research goes, I'm happy to look into something and make sure it's not an utter failure and is at least worth what they are charging for it. But it is ultimately YOUR decision and YOU are who needs to do enough research to be certain you want it. I will not be researching any product to enough of an extent that I will then have all the knowledge to "sell you on it", much less then be taking the time to talk you in to it. I already know of the things I think are what you should choose and I let you know those up front and give you links to all the resources on them you'll need to feel good about them. But if you find something else, that's fine with me, just do all the research to make sure you're happy with it and then ask me to price it. I'm happy to do it. I'm not on Trex's payroll so I'm free and happy to use what YOU want on your deck.

Composite Framing !!!:

Did you know there is now such a thing as Composite Framing lumber?


It's made by Owens-Corning, it's called WearDeck™ and they have 2x4's, 2x6's, 2x8's and 2x10's.
And get this, they also have the standard 1"x6" decking, but they also have 1"x8" decking!!!
It even claims to be more heat-reflective.

All this framing is quite a bit more expensive than treated pine. But if you are going to stay in the house for years, or if you have a nice stone patio or something underneath, then it may very well be worth it to you. It's already selling well in the Northern states. And it will last SO much longer and look SO much better than pine!
Just the money you spend on joist tape when we put composite decking over a pine frame will go a little ways to helping pay for composite framing. If you want to know more about it just let me know.

There is also steel framing. Has been for a long time. But I think it's even more expensive, not as pretty, and harder to get - not to mention it won't be as easy to work with as composite framing.

I can't wait to get to build a deck that has zero wood! And surely you can't wait to own one! You would never have a worry again!

Deckorators Balusters:

These balusters are the least expensive way to have metal in your railing. At least the Deckorators®  Traditional Balusters are. 

We build Our Standard Railing and then use these balusters instead of our wood 2x2 balusters.

The "Traditional" style balusters simply screw on to the back of the 2x4 rail stringers. Other styles of aluminum balusters will attach between the rail stringers, some in precise holes that are drilled in the stringers, and are therefore more difficult to install. The other styles also cost more. So the higher cost and the more indepth installation of all other styles means that the Traditional balusters are by far the least expensive way to have any metal in your railings.

The cost it ADDS to your quote will be around $18 per foot of railing you have.

One strange thing about all Deckorators balusters is that Lowe's (and maybe H.D.) seem to carry many (if not all) of the weird and difficult to install styles in their stores, but they don't carry the easy and simple Traditional style. So we can't just run grab them if you decide you want them - we have to order them. So we need to know you want them before the last minute. But where we get them there is no tax and the shipping is free!

*For the record......
when we install these screw-on Traditional balusters we do NOT typically center them in each section of railing (spaced between two posts). The reason we don't do this is because it takes more time to do and most people never notice a small detail like that. What you are more likely to notice is how far away a baluster is on the left side of a post compared to the baluster on the right side of that same post. That is what stands out to your eye. So spacing them 3½" apart, wherever a baluster lands on one side of a post, we continue on the other side of that post the same distance, and then continue on with the 3½" spacing. 

If you were to look at the pictures in our gallery close enough, or any of our decks in person, you would see how we do this. This is how we install our standard wood 2x2 balusters as well. This fact is not hidden, plus we are mentioning it here. And odds are you would have never thought about it if I hadn't mentioned it here.

But if we are installing another style of baluster, an all-aluminum or composite railing, or if you are someone who wants balusters centered in each rail section, then we will certainly do the math for each different section of railing and center the balusters accordingly. Just be aware when wanting them centered that there is always the chance that the posts weren't set perfectly divided along a run, which could make two rail sections different widths, and so the balusters could potentially be spaced slightly differently on either side of a post. And that will stand out to your eye far more than if we do it the other way.

So even though we don't think you'll really like it in the end, if you do want them centered you need to mention it to us BEFORE we install them (and preferably before the contract is signed so I can charge accordingly for our time). If we follow this website and our contract and you want us to back up and redo something a different way, we're happy to but we will charge for the time and/or any materials we have to get new.

Aluminum Railing Products:

Wood -
We can do any style or design of wood railing you like. Your Plan will be priced with Our Standard Railing initally. And if you want another style, send me a photo or link showing what you want and I'll price it out for you. But please be clear and call it rail, not "posts" or "perimeter". If you say "posts" when you send me the photo I'll only be looking at the posts in the picture and we won't be on the same page.

Aluminum -
There are tons of non-wood railing choices on the market. We can install any of them for you, but we don't make any of them so we aren't responsible for their durability or how they perform. We are all at the mercy of how they are manufactured.

Our favorite all-aluminum railing is the DekPro Prestige railing! We love the fact that the rail-to-post connections are simple and as tight to the posts as possible, making it look as close to a one-piece rail as you can get. Many other brands have connections that seem like a skinny "link" or convoluted "attachment point" that makes it too obvious that the rails are separete pieces than the posts and connected with some extra hardware. That also means that as you run your hand over the top of the rail you will get to some uncomfortable junk right before each post. The DekPro Prestige connections seem more like nice "rail trim" than connections. Smooth and simple!

ALSO...... the DekPro Prestige is made in the USA and is the least expensive all-aluminum railing on the market! Normally you wouldn't want the least expensive in a line up because it could equate, in part, to the least in quality. But not in this case! And I think this is because DekPro has a parent company that is actually one of the few companies around today that are still trying to operate with some ethics. I've dealt with them personally on some packaging issues years ago when we first discovered them and they were amazingly receptive to my suggestions and they actually made adjustments to be better. I couldn't believe it. They are really great people with a really great product.

The cost this rail ADDS to your quote can be (in 2023) anywhere from $98 per ft of railing to $120 per ft of railing - depending on several factors like how much rail there is, stairs, angles, drink rail brackets (of you want that), etc. This is just to give you some sort of idea. The only real way to know is for me to price it out at the time with the manufacturers exact current pricing. I know that cost is shocking, but other brands are worse.

Hopefully DekPro won't find out that they are the least expensive because my clients and I have been loving getting the best rail for the least cost! Speaking of which, our customers DO love it! You can see that by how many of the decks in our galleries have it and how few have other brands/styles.

All other brands & types of railings:

We are happy to price out and install any brand or type of rail for you. But I can tell you right now that they will all be more expensive than the DekPro Prestige. 
We have done several Trex aluminum rails. And even though Trex composites are our favorite boards, the rails are not. Sorry Trex, I'm just being honest.

We've installed the Peak Aluminum Railing that Home Depot sells a couple of times. And we did it so good that Home Depot AND Peak are using our photos in their marketing materials. That's great, but it still costs more and is one of the worst when it comes to how awful and insect-leg-like the connections are. The only positive I'll put with it is that if we, or you, needed another part or section we could likely just go pick it up at one of the local H.D. Stores instead of having to order it and wait a few days like we do for the DekPro Prestige.

Composite Railings -
We've installed composite railings a few times (Trex and a brand that is now discontinued). And I can tell you that composite railings will be the most expensive railing you will ever get (maybe even worse than having a fabricator come weld an ornamential iron rail on-site). For some reason they cost far more per foot (or per anything) than the decking costs and some of them are a nightmare to install (drivnig the cost up more). But if you want it we'll be as fair as we can be on the labor portion on it.

As for cost..... Look back up at the approximate cost for the DekPro Prestige railings and know that composite railings can easily be triple that.

Cable Railings -
We have priced out countless cable rails for people and only ONE, in 27 years, decided it was affordable enough to let us do it. And that one wasn't even a standard cable rail, it was a new concept of a vertical cable rail. And I guess since it was new and they we're trying to get people to try it, the price was actually not bad. But.... because the cables were vertical there were tensioning issues.
On one job the guy decided he could afford cable railing if he installed it himself. So we were there to watch and assist during part of that. But so far no one has had us do it. And I've really priced the labor terrifyingly low on some just so we'd have a photo to put in our gallery! But the cost of the rail was still just too high (even higher than composite railings).

There are new brands coming in to the market all the time, or aluminum rail brands deciding to venture into the cable rail world. And it's so far between each time that I price it for someone that costs change and I can't even post an approximate cost here. I'll just have to price it out specifically for your project if you want me to. But just know that it won't be cheap. There is a LOT to a cable rail. Some might say "it's just a cable and end connections!" But there's far more to it than that. There are at least 10 cables & 20 connectors in every section of rail. There are the specialty tools used to ge the cables tight. There are all the holes to drill in all the posts. There is figuring out making them go down stairs properly. There is the making sure the rail posts are 4-5 times sturdier than they would ever have to be for anything else, which sometimes means planning how the posts (or blocks for the posts) are in the deck frame differently and the size/type of bolts used. Cables and other hardware are stainless steel which is around 5 times more expensive than other types of steel.

Special Order Items:

Composite lumber, Aluminum Railing, or anything that we have to order for you from out of state (that must be shipped or that I can't just go pick up from a location myself) are all considered Special Order.

I'm sorry for all of the reading on this site. No other deck builder or home improvement contractor makes you read this much stuff. But that's why you'll end up hating him and wanting to sue him - because you had no idea how he operated. Please read it all. I'm too old to have problems with anyone.


If you have me order ANY special order materials or items, they are NOT returnable.

Due to the cost of freight shipping, the only way it would be worth it to send any decking back is if the vendor sent the wrong thing or it was damaged in shipping (because that will not be our fault). And if so, I'll take care of that and work it out with the vendor. But there can be no "Buyers Remorse" returns. YOU have to feel comfortable and be certain in your decision before you have me order something for you. I am happy to research products and report my findings to you, but it is ultimatley YOUR responsibility to click on any links I send you, look at and test any samples I lend you, or to do your own independant research on any and every special order product you have me order.

Most of the places we order from have a policy that things have to be unopened and unused in order to be returned. So if we install something (which we have to for you to consider the job complete and pay us) then it is considered used. And we can't save the boxes or crates for every item for every customer that gets special order items. Many vendors have a "No boxes = No returns" policy (but the "installed/used" factor means no returns anyway). So if the product performs, but just not as well as you think it should, or you weren't aware of the exact color/texture/etc. then it can't be returned.

We are just passing on the policies of the vendors.

So to keep it simple since there are so many vendors with varying policies that change regularly and we can't keep up with, we have no choice but to have a NO RETURN policy as well on anything that we have to order online or from outside of Central Arkansas.
We are trying to be in the DECK BUILDING business, and that inherently includes handling some products. But we are not trying to be in the time-consuming business of re-handling products over and over. We are a 4-person company that includes me and 3 installers. We do not have a Returns Department or a Shipping & Receiving team.

So please research carefully to be sure you want an item before having us order you any expensive items. 
Even if you wanted to order the Special Order items yourself (which could cause you to pay more), changing your mind after they are on their way (shipped) or after they have arrived (much less after they are installed) will still cause me and my crew great headaches and scheduling issues. It won't just affect you and your project; it will affect many of the projects after yours and those innocent home owners.

Small things like lighting, post caps, or hardware or any accessory that we don't have to have as part of the actual build are probably fine to be ordered by you anyway. Things that we may install for you, but can be installed after the fact and won't hold up any phase of the actual build, should be ordered by you from any vendor you can find (online or in person). You, as a consumer and not a contractor, will have much more pull in being able to return something than we will. Vendors are more scared of you than they are of us and will often override their policies for you. They know we will not leave them negative reviews since we have to use them for other jobs. Plus, small boxes are easier for you to save in the event you want to return something.

We always set out to design these decks, with you, many months in advance of when the build date would be. So that gives you plenty of time to do research and be sure of your choices. If your project might start very soon after the initial meeting or initial design is presented (due to an opeing in our schedule or any other factor) then it is up to YOU to tell us to slow down and hold off until you are sure of your material choices. We present options to you but we follow YOUR lead. You are paying for this project and it is being built at your house, so YOU are responsible for knowing what you are getting and for not being rushed into any decisions. We only rush if you tell us we can!

So to sum up, if we order it for you then you own it forever (unless you can sell it to someone of your own efforts). We will NOT be giving refunds on special order items and we will not be attempting to facilitate, broker, or help with getting you a refund from any vendor. These statements say "we" this and "we" that. But Chris is the entire office staff at this company and therefore, due to time constraints, has no choice but to decline to process any special order returns.

Also, if you have been presented with and signed a Two-Phase contract, this might mean that your special order item(s) are paid for but not yet sent from the distributor. Or it could mean that the items were sent, but I'm holding them here at my local location. It depends on what the distributor dictates at the time of ordering. *If they are waiting at my location for your project to start then they are covered by my insurance.
But either way, as soon as I place the order the distributor gathers it all up, crates it for shipping, and goes ahead and prepays for the shipping with the freight company to lock in the price they quoted me for freight. So if you thought that since it hasn't shipped yet that you could just get all your money back, that is not the case. The distributor would, in many cases, issue a refund but:
1) It would not be done in a hurry.
2) It would be minus their time and materials crating it (which is not cheap) and storing it (both of which you/we don't pay for unless their time is wasted and we cancel the order).
3) The entire shipping cost would be lost because they claim the freight company has a No Refund policy on pre-paid freight quotes, and I can't find out if that's correct since I'm personally not a "volume shipper" and don't have an account with any freight company. 
4) Depending on how long we wait to cancel, they could also deduct a Market Decrease fee from our refund for the amount they lost by not being able to sell it sooner (this could be due to their liability on excess inventory, the prices going down while they held it (not too likely), or worse, if the brand or series got discontinued while they were holding it for us they may decline to refund ANY amount since they would likely not be able to sell it to anyone else.

And is their "Market Decrease" fee BS? I can only tell you what they've told me. I don't work there. I do not have the time or money to fight with some big distributor or vendor in the event you change your mind about what you ordered. Imagine if just a few of my customers wanted me, a deck builder, to try to go fight some big dog and their lawyers about a policy that may or may not be BS. I'd never get anything else done and I'd go out of business. Furthermore, taking them to task and making them lose money would be shooting myself in the foot because they wouldn't want to work with me anymore and that would make me go out of business!

So for me - and for you - it's better to just be 100% sure you want any product before you have me order it. Think of all the possibilites and consider yourself informed and prepared before you sign a contract.

The contract you sign with us and the signature/footer of any email we send you will have a link pointing you to this section of this website and advising you to read it before you sign anything or hand us any money for anything.

By signing a contract you also agree that we don't have to provide you with any information about our vendors (which could give our competition the upper hand if the info ever got out) and we don't have to provide you with any invoices showing our costs on the materials we order. We provide our customers a turn-key total price, not a breakdown. If the total is acceptable for the scope of the work, then how it all breaks down for us shouldn't matter to the customer. Same as when you buy something at any retailer - you don't know their costs for that item, the shipping they paid to get it, or the labor they pay to put it on the shelf; you only know the total.

*This policy does not include anything we buy locally at Lowe's, H.D., or any local lumber company - which is all of the pine we use and standard hardware.

More to come soon !