5 On Your Side

CEO helps clean up ChoiceDek mold mess

A decking product advertised as low-maintenance developed a mold problem, so company executives decided to help clean up a Moore County man’s deck themselves.

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VASS, N.C. — A Moore County man said he got upset when a low-maintenance decking material developed a mold problem – and he was relieved when company executives helped clean up the mess.

Jack Garner, of Vass, decided to go with ChoiceDek when building a deck at his home two years. He paid nearly $1,800 for the material – about double the cost of pressure-treated wood.

A brochure advertises that the composite material "does not need paint, stain or weather treatment" and is "virtually moisture proof."

"It's supposed to be maintenance free or low-maintenance," Garner said.

Soon, however, mold started developing on the deck. Spots continued to appear even after Garner followed product guidelines to clean the deck.

"I would say it looked like we had a rainstorm of ink," Garner said.

Other ChoiceDek customers with similar problems filed a class-action lawsuit in February.

Garner e-mailed the manufacturer, Weyerhaeuser, and got a brief response saying someone would be in touch with him. When he did not hear back, Garner called 5 on Your Side.

"I think it's a faulty product. I think Weyerhauser should take it off the market," Garner said.

A spokesman for AERT, the Weyerhaeuser subsidiary that makes ChoiceDek, talked with 5OYS.

Spokesman Jim Percht said the deck needs yearly cleaning and is low-maintenance, not maintenance free. ChoiceDek's warranty does not cover mold and mildew, but Percht said the product lets customers not worry about "splinters, rot, decay and termites."

Percht agreed to send someone to clean the mildew off Garner's deck – and AERT's chief executive officer, president and a service representative flew from Arkansas on Sunday to do exactly that.

After the cleaning, the CEO still was not happy with the discoloration, so he agreed to provide almost $2,000 worth of new materials. Garner elected to install the new deck himself, since he is an experienced, paid deck-builder.

Garner expressed confidence he will not have any more problems with ChoiceDek because a mold inhibitor was added to the product in late 2006.