Composite Decking has become a great maintenance-free version of wood for outdoor decks and patios. There are many pros and cons to this form of decking, but first, let’s answer the questions, “What is Composite Decking?”
This type of decking is generally made from fibers of wood and plastic.
Such plastics may be any of the following types:
- Polyvinyl Chloride
In addition to one of these plastics, the wood fibers (or in some cases wood flour) and other ingredients are added in order to stabilize the combination. There are a variety of wood fiber types that can be used in this material, and you can seek out specific types of composite decking based on wood type you prefer. Types of wood vary greatly, and can include anything from Bamboo, to redwood, to teak. Take a look at all options, and consider cost as well. Additionally, the types of wood included in the ingredient list will determine whether it will be stronger, more prone to absorption, etc.
Types Of Composite Decking:
This is not a “one brand fits all” type of decision. There are different kinds of composite decking, and the pros and cons tend to depend on which alternative you choose.
- Less prone to damage during install
- Can absorb more heat, and therefore have the possibility of expanding or warping slightly
- Looks very similar to wood
- Less durable
- Prone to damage during install
- Will absorb less heat than its solid counterpart
- Less wood product available to encourage rotting
- Tends to look man made
Why Composite Decking?
If you’re considering different types of material for your upcoming deck construction project, there are a number of reasons why you’ll want to consider composite decking as your material of choice:
- Non-porous – When compressed into planks, this decking makes an excellent alternative to regular wood. The resulting product is not porous, and therefore will not give off or take in any moisture. This means that the Composite Decking will not warp the way wood does.
- Strength – Composite Decking will not be prone to cracking or separating either. This relationship of ingredients also protects Composite Decking from issues such as damage from UV rays. While solid and hollow options may play into the strength category, it is still a greater choice for deck builders.
- Maintenance-free – The paramount reason a deck contractor would choose Composite Decking over wood, is the low maintenance requirement. Like the flooring in your house, this decking will not need the same attention as its wood counterpart. No painting, staining or sealant is needed when completing a project with this decking material. No weathering precautions need to be taken into consideration either!
Negative Aspects Of Composite Decking:
There are also a few things that you’ll want to consider before using this material, as some view these as disadvantages that you should be aware of:
- Cost – While traditional deck design with wood can cost an average of $15 per square foot, composite decking can cost up to $36 per square foot. (Keep in mind, however, that it will be cheaper than aluminum decking)
- Scratches and Stains – Because this material is meant for strength and resistance, its hard plastic-like surface can be scratched, and can even accumulate mold stains. While the mold does not absorb into the decking, it can cause permanent color changes in your patio design.
- Heat – The most common complaint about composite decking is the heat factor. The surfaces of this material tend to heat up when exposed to direct sunlight. While the color choice may assist with the amount of heat absorbed, it will still be much hotter than alternative decking would.
How Will your composite deck look?
It depends on the exact type of composite decking you choose, however, in general, it looks just like wood! Additionally, there is no possibility of cracks, or uneven boards to trip you up when walking across your custom deck. The unique combination of materials that are pressed into these planks allow for exactly the same size plank for each piece. This means a very uniform look to your new deck.
Composite decking choices also produce even coloring across your new patio design. There are no differences in colors across the planks, leading to one cohesive and consistent deck design. Since you can use this just like wood, handrails and steps can match the floor of your decking as well!
How Do You Care For Composite Decking?
While this type of decking is generally touted as a “maintenance-free alternative,” there are ways in which you still need to care for your deck. Sweeping and hosing off with water are the two main ways to keep this decking looking great! Hosing it off in the summer will also help cool it down before walking across it with bare feet. Removing ice and snow will keep the moisture from accumulating in specific areas, which can eventually lead to mold, or even just a slippery surface! Cleaning it with simple soap and water will get rid of dust stains and will immediately bring that sparkling new patio design back to life.
Tips For Maintaining composite decks
- Use splatter guards underneath and around grills. Grease and oil spills can damage your beautiful decking, so use mats, and clean up spills quickly!
- Never use sharp tools like shovels to remove snow or ice from your deck. These can scratch and ding your Composite Decking, not only causing scratches to be visible, but also causing the materials to be exposed to the elements!
- Create areas where accumulated water can drain from the top of the deck. Sitting water will create areas of mold growth, causing stains and dangerous bacteria to develop.
- When using pressure washers, make sure to maintain a 12 foot distance to avoid causing any damage to the surface of that custom deck.
While there are pros and cons to using composite decking, the end result is a consistent, easy to maintain, beautiful decking option. With the look of real wood, you can enjoy your outdoor relaxing without the worry of warping planks, mold spores inside sections, or the yearly repainting required. No staining or weather-proofing needed here! You can feel free to enjoy the look of a wooden deck, with all the creature comforts of composite decking.