WHAT IS COMPOSITE DECKING MATERIAL MADE OF?

Composite decking is a man-made alternative built with recycled wood fibres, recycled plastic, and bonding agents. It is therefore eco-friendly as well as being low-maintenance and having a longer lifespan than traditional wood decking. To answer to the demand of wooden coloured decks or patios, composite decking can now simulate different wood types, including exotic hardwoods which are not typically available with traditional wood decking.

The process of making composite decking is simple: mixing an equal mix of wood fibres, plastics, and bonding agents, heated to form board shaped panels and then cooled.

WHAT IS THE AVERAGE COST OF COMPOSITE DECK?

On average 26.50£ per square foot with installation. Homeowners can expect to pay between 6,820£ to 15,150£for a full composite deck, these prices depend on factors that either increase or decrease the total installation cost. For the craftiest of homeowners, average deck prices without installation go from 5.30£ to 7.50£ per square foot, in that sense not employing professionals can lower the costs, but most often than not contacting a decking professional would be better to ensure the quality of the results. Extra accessories such as lights, benches or specifics of decking professionals, might increase the costs more if added. 

IS COMPOSITE DECKING MORE EXPENSIVE THAN WOOD DECKING?

On average, wooden decks cost between 11£ to 20£ per square foot to install with cedar wood (one of the most expensive) at about 23£ per square foot.  Composite decking costs about 23£ to 34£ per square foot. Composite decking is more expensive than traditional wood decking.

For a full deck, most composite decks start at 6 820£, while most wooden decks can be built for about 3 800£.

WHAT COLOURS ARE AVAILABLE FOR COMPOSITE DECKING?

While traditional wood decking has more options with colours and patterns, composite decking comes in diverse colours with patterns and added grain to make them look more like real wood. Composite decking’s colours can be sorted into four wide colour categories: grey, light or medium brown, dark brown, beige and red.

IS COMPOSITE DECKING BETTER THAN WOODEN DECKING?

Today a majority of decks are built with wooden boards since wood is less expensive than other types of decking in is initial costs. However, the main reason why people choose composite decking is for the low maintenance costs needed. Both have their advantages: wooden decks are easier to install but composite decking is less expensive concerning maintenance costs, which makes composite decks less expensive on the long run without the risks of crack or splinter.

IS COMPOSITE DECKING SLIPPERY?

Wooden decks are more likely to be slippery when wet than composite decking. Composite decking has the advantage, as a man-made material, to have a textured finish to make them less slippery. Slippery surfaces are caused by algae growing on wood or other organic surfaces, however, algae can’t grow on composite materials, causing it to not be slippery after the rain. Although, when in winter, ice and snow are still slippery either on composite of wood decking.

HOW LONG DOES A COMPOSITE DECK LAST?

Composite decking due to its resistance to weather’s impact, insects and rotting or staining lasts about 25 to 35 years or longer while traditional wood decks have a shorter lifespan (10-15 years) before they lose some quality.

WHAT IS COMPOSITE DECKING’S IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT?

Composite decking is surprisingly eco-friendlier than wood decking. Wood needs to be pressure-treated to be a decking material for it to resist outdoor flooring use and resistant to insects. To do so, its need to be treated with chemicals which prevent it to be recycled or burned. To be labelled “eco-friendly”, materials must be produced in a way that it doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment or the labour involved. Unlike wood, composite decking is majority made by using recycled plastics such as milk jugs, grocery store bags, cleaning supplies containers, shampoo bottles ect., combined with recycled woods (like scraps from door frames, lumber, cabinet pieces, and windows trim). Furthermore, the process of making composite decking is waste-free and use no toxic elements, as well as contributing to reducing the protection of the air, by using materials that would otherwise be burned in incinerators.

DOES COMPOSITE DECKING EXPAND?

If spaced incorrectly, composite decking may crack or split along the edges, since like most decking woods, they need space for expansion or contraction. Furthermore, during summer, composite decks expand more than wooden decks on its lengths, which has to be taken into account when installing the deck. Even though composite decking is a man-made combination of wood and plastic, it isn’t indestructible and can be scratched easily if careless.

CAN YOU SEAL COMPOSITE DECKING?

Typically, sealing the surface of composite decks after cleaning isn’t necessary, but it is popularly suggested. By doing so, homeowners can get several more years of usage out of it before needing to clean it again (unlike doing it every 6 months like previously mentioned).

DOES COMPOSITE DECKING GETS HARMED OUTSIDE?

Composite decking to stay at a high-quality level needs to be properly able to dry, for example by being slightly angled away from walls to deck jointure. Otherwise composite decking unlike wood won’t absorb water, instead, water trapped under the decking or on the joists stay there until rotting and decay rather than being released in the air.

CAN YOU USE COMPOSITE DECKING INSIDE?

While composite decking was primarily designed for the outdoors, but it is originally similar to laminates which are used indoors. In that sense, they could be used for indoor flooring even though it is an unpopular option.

DO COMPOSITE DECKS FADE?

Composite decking is made to be fade resistant, but it may fade over time under strong sun UV rays, so it could be turning slightly lighter in terms of colour tone after a few decades.

CAN YOU BURN COMPOSITE DECKING?

Composite as it is made from wood and plastic, can still be burned like natural wood materials. It’s very important for your safety to avoid having open flames near the deck.

DO COMPOSITE DECKS FEEL HOT?

The main complaint from homeowners with composite decks is that it becomes very hot under direct sunlight, especially darker coloured decks which absorb the heat and get to higher temperatures faster. However, due to the recent evolution of composite decking, this problem has been resolved so as to help homeowners in the summer appreciate their decking area.

CAN A FIRE PIT GO ON A DECK?

To install a wood-burning fire pit on a flammable deck safely, you need to create a no-burn zone under and around the pit while keeping it away from furniture, plants, trees, railings, pets or children or anything that could be harmed by the fire. The fire pit in itself must be in some type of flame-resistant surface so has to hold the fire pit and catch the sparks safely.

HOW TO REMOVE OIL FROM COMPOSITE DECKING?

If you’re planning for an outside kitchen in your decking area, keep in mind to keep the followings near you when cooking to remove oil spills. By using a scrub brush, vinegar, baking soda and a bucket of warm water, you can easily clean oil before it stains your composite deck.

CAN YOU PUT SALT ON A COMPOSITED DECK?

Normally, salt won’t damage composite decking and is even recommended by many manufacturers, to use rock-salt against ice on decks. It’s very efficient and the drying effect of salt on the decking is minimal, and salt can even be used as a scouring powder. However, since composite decking can be scratched, it’s better as to not rub or press salt too forcefully on composite decking.

Salt, while not harming your deck, might leave a chalky residue on top, which can make the deck look dirtier than it is. To remove the salt residue, rinse the deck with a garden hose, with high-pressure water for a fast and efficient result. You can also use any household cleaner with only a small amount of phosphoric acid.

HOW TO REMOVE ICE FROM COMPOSITE DECKING?

If during winter, your deck gets covered by snow or ice, you will need a plastic shovel (with no metallic edge), a bucket of hot water and rock salt to safely remove it from your composite deck. When you finished removing loose snow, press slowly, gently and upward on the ice edge on your deck. While doing it gently makes it a slow task, chipping the ice edge with the shovel could damage the deck permanently. Then pour a bucket of hot water on areas that you can’t finish, as it will melt the thicker sheets of ice to finish cleaning it with a shovel. Finally spreading rock salt on the last spots of ice and afterwards on the deck so it doesn’t build up again. The salt will be easily removed with a garden hose when not needed anymore.

IS COMPOSITE DECKING WATERPROOF?

Many composite decking has features that make them waterproof, such as:

  • Full waterproof material capping surrounding the board so as to protect the above and under core. This feature will make it a non-slip surface as well as moisture resistant.
  • Co-extruded capping which is capping bonded to the core of the board to make sure it won’t peel or crack and be damaged by water. –    Hidden fasteners inserted into the groove in the side of the board, screwed into the substructure, this way no screws actually pierce the surface of the board itself, leaving above capping intact to resist water impact.
  • Hidden fasteners inserted into the groove in the side of the board, screwed into the substructure, this way no screws actually pierce the surface of the board itself, leaving above capping intact to resist water impact.

CAN YOU PAINT COMPOSITE DECKING?

While the colour of composite decking is supposed to last for decades, some homeowners prefer to paint it so has to refresh the colour or change the look of their deck. To do so, one must first clean their deck of the debris, dirt, leaves ect., with clean water and soap. Then, when its dry and with visibly no defects, cover surrounding plants, concrete, grass that you don’t want to stain by mistake and start painting with a high-quality composite deck stain.

To make sure the paint will work properly stir the stain thoroughly and evenly before starting to paint. With other products such as oil-based stains, ask for the help of a professional so as to not develop cracks by mistake on your deck. Once the staining is finished, apply a coat of composite deck finish and wait about 30 minutes before brushing any excess paint on the deck.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN COMPOSITE DECKING?

To maintain composite decking, you need to clean it bi-annually gently with soap-and-water in general cases, cleaning dirt and debris from the deck is easy and won’t take time. However, here is a list of things that might damage your deck if left uncleaned :

  • Chalk may discolor the surface if used
  • Ice and snow may scratch the deck if not removed gently
  • Oil, food stain or grease should be cleaned as soon as possible with a hose and warm water with soap
  • Pollen and dirt if staying on the surface too long can develop into mold, again warm water and soap should be enough to clean them.

Try to not pressure wash your composite deck as it is softer than natural wood and can be damaged by high pressured water, and can then chip and get damaged by the sun more easily.
To prevent mold from developing under your deck, clean the gaps thoroughly at least once a year so the air can pass between the board to keep the underside dry.