There is certainly alot of confusion regarding deck products and manufacturer claims. Composit decking has been around since the early 90’s and were made from polyethylene resin from recycled materials and wood fillers. Many shortcomings were evident such as staining, mold and product swelling to name a few. Because the polythyene comes from recycled waste, manufactures have had difficulty controlling the resins and contaminants going into the decking causing premature failure.
Of all the brands I feel that Timbertech http://www.timbertech.com/products/default.aspx is one of the better composit products available. If you are looking for maintenance free your best bet is to upgrade to a PVC based deck product such as Azek http://www.azek.com/azek-deck/ There are no waste products or wood fibers added which means no mold issues and a more stain resistant decking. This is the product I am most confident with. Trex has come out with Trex Escapes which is a composit base with a PVC wrap. I am of the opinion that a product should be out for a least a few years before recommending it. Let someone else experiment with the new products on their house.
I know with wood there is some maintenance that comes with it but for the same price as a composite decking you can get a beautiful Mahogany deck.
As far as maintenance goes once every few years you can apply a coat of Australian Timber Oil http://www.cabotstain.com/products/product/Australian-Timber-Oil.html to the top of the boards and your done. Like most things in life you get what you pay for.
In the next post I will discuss railing options.