If you’re in the market for a new composite deck, then style, color, cost and maintenance are all likely on your deck-buying checklist. But, what about the warranty? A warranty is essentially a manufacturer’s or seller’s promise to stand behind a product’s performance. These promises can vary widely, so be sure to read them carefully before you buy.
To make sure you know what you’re getting into upfront, take a few minutes to find answers to these questions, building upon guidance from the Federal Trade Commission:
- How long does the warranty last? Check the warranty to see when it begins and expires, and look for conditions that may void the coverage, such as sanding or using a pressure washer on the surface of the composite decking.
- Who do you contact to get warranty service, and what is the claims process? Find out whether the retailer or manufacturer will provide you with the warranty service, and how the claims process works. Some companies require you to register your decking warranty beforehand or to follow certain steps to make a claim.
- What will the company do if the product fails? Read the warranty to see whether the company will repair the decking, replace it or refund your money. And, be sure you understand what they define as a “failure.” Some coverages are limited and won’t protect the boards when installed in certain ways. For example, allowing the material to be in direct contact with the ground may void some composite decking warranties.
- What deck parts and repair problems are covered? Check to see if any parts of the decking product are excluded from coverage or fall under a different limited warranty, as may be the case with deck fasteners and railing products. Also, look for conditions that could prove expensive or inconvenient. For example, some warranties require you to have the deck professionally cleaned at your own expense before submitting a claim.
- Does the warranty cover “consequential damages?” Verify whether the warranty covers damages caused by the product, along with your time and expense in repairing that damage. For example, if your decking product fails, the manufacturer may only cover the materials, not the labor to reinstall them or any damage the failed decking did to your home.
- Are there any conditions or limitations on the warranty? Some warranties provide coverage only if you install the decking in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines, and maintain it according to their recommendations. Make sure these conditions will meet your needs.
Keep in mind manufacturers that stand behind their brand’s performance typically offer a more extensive warranty. For example, ChoiceDek composite decking offers a 25-year warranty that isn’t voided by direct ground or water contact. It also protects against rot, termites and insect damage.
While composite decking warranties should be simple, clear and easy to understand, not all warranties are created equal. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask a sales representative or contact the manufacturer directly. But, remember that spoken warranties aren’t law. Get any oral promises in writing.
The bottom line is your outdoor deck-escape is only as good as the boards you install. Make sure the composite decking you choose is made to last and backed by a reliable warranty.