Although our Vermont spring stillfeels a bit chilly, it won't be long before we are all barbecuing on the deck in the warm sunshine. Just thinking about this fabulous pastime made me check my deck to see how it weathered this past winter. And, like many of you, my raised 12 x 24 deck needs a good cleaning and staining and maybe a board or two replaced. I try toconvince myself thatit really only needs a little maintenance every two years or so, but honestly, it should be stained every year with the amount of harsh weather we receive. Also, at 13 years old this summer, we might be looking at replacing it in the near future. If this sounds familiar, then maybe you too have considered an alternative to pressure treated wood. I am seeing composite decking more and more as I show homes and buyers always have a positive response. "Oh, that's great - No staining!" The compositelumber that is used for making decks isa mixture of wood fiber, plastic, and some type of binding agent. These ingredients are put together to form a material that is denser, stronger, and heavier than wood alone, a wood-plastic composite. Trex, Timbertech and MoistureShield are three common composite decking companies.Composite decking is resistant to rot, doesn't warp, won't give people splinters, and doesn't need to be painted, stained or sealed! (I'm sold!) But of course, like everything there is a downside. Composite decking is usually more expensive. When comparing your optionsof the initially least expensivepressure treated wood, exotic woods that will have a longer deck life but be more expensive, or composite decking, the up front costs of composite may be worth it. Composite decking costs often fall between those two wood options anddo have different varieties that can fit mostbudgets. So, the next time you look at your deck and the can of stain, you might justify the cost of low maintenancecomposite decking over the lifetime of the deck. .