What is Composite Decking?
Composite decking is not currently the most popular decking method, but it’s popularity is slowly gaining momentum. This growth is linked to a number of factors including the fact that composite decking offers an eco-friendly alternative to traditional decking. From the term “composite” it is clear to see that the decking is not made of one material. Composite decking uses a decking material that is a mix of more than a few different ingredients, usually, it involves a combination of materials like recycled plastics, wood fibers such as sawdust, reclaimed wood and bonding agents.
Advantages of Composite Decking
Composite decking is extremely durable and a lot of this can be linked to its plastic content which makes it last longer and makes it much more impervious to natural factors, such as rot or decay. Composite decking will also not crack as a result of heat even if it is in direct sunlight and, because of the ingredients used, it is not very likely to absorb water, making it one of the best options for water prone areas.
Cost-Effective (long term)
While composite decking usually requires a much higher initial cost than other alternatives. Due to its durability and toughness, it rarely requires replacement or any expensive maintenance, making it the perfect choice for individuals looking for a long-term deck.
Composite decking can be made to have very interesting colours and patterns that provide it with a beautiful and natural look, with many people being unable to tell the difference between a composite and a 100% wooden deck. There is also a wide range of colors that can be used from bright to dark colours, depending on your preference.
Disadvantages of Composite Decking
While it has the benefit of being a great long-term solution for cost, in the short-term it can be particularly expensive. In some cases this deck can cost as much as 70% more than traditional decking options. This is due to several factors including the particular materials mixed, the size of the deck, as well as labour costs. Generally the average costs, depending on all these things, can be as high as $35 per square foot. This figure drops to about $8 or $9 when polyethylene or polypropylene is used. However, people who opt for composite decking can spend from $8,500 to $20,000.
Composite decking is generally heavier than other wooden alternatives which can make installation a bit more difficult.
Unfortunately, overtime composite decking can fade, sag and also potentially stain. However, with new technology coming into play many suppliers are now confident enough to offer warranties ranging from 20 years+ for not only the product itself, but to also assure protection against fading and staining.
Composite Decking Alternatives
Merbau timber is an example of one of the more traditional decking solutions and is a type of hardwood that is naturally found in places such as Southeast Asia and parts of the Pacific islands. Merbau decking is one of the most common decking types in Australia as it is highly durable, fire resistant and flexible, in the sense that it can easily be cut and shaped.
Also known as PVC decking this option is made entirely out of a polymer, usually plastic. Since there’s no wood at all in it, it can be sturdier compared to the alternatives. It is highly resistant to weather (both water and excessive sunlight), rot, insect infestation and it is very easy to maintain making it another highly viable eco-decking option.
When building a deck make sure to do your research. While composite decking offers a highly alluring decking option make sure to do your due diligence on the range of alternatives to find a solution that best fits your overall look and budget.