A Guide to Composite Decking
Since the 1990s, composite decking has been a favorite material for Wichita homeowners, home builders and contractors when building beautiful outdoor decks. Long-lasting and good-looking, it is often used instead of traditional wood decking because of its many outstanding qualities.
How Composite Decking is Made
According to “This Old House,” composite wood decking is a man- made material that is manufactured from a combination of wood and plastic. Discarded wood and scrap cuts are pulverized and combined with recycled plastic from milk containers and shopping bags to make composite decking. The combined material is then manufactured into standard board sizes and lengths to resemble wooden deck boards in order to provide a traditional look with the added advantages that
￼￼Composite decking from All Seasons Construction adds beauty and value to your home. composites provide.
Preservatives are then added to the mixture to extend its life, and colors are added for variety and aesthetic appeal. Wood- grain textures are also sometimes stamped on the surface so it resembles natural wood.
Types of Composite Decking
Composite decking usually comes in either a solid or hollow form, but can also come in slotted, open flange and scalloped. Solid is the heavier form and more closely resembles wood, letting it expand and contract with changing temperatures. Hollow has a more manufactured look, but won’t expand and contract like solid forms. Slotted boards have grooves along both sides that hide the fasteners. Open flange boards save weight without the loss of stiffness and uses hidden fasteners. Scalloped boards are as heavy as solid boards, but only have one usable side.
All types need to be treated with a preservative and antifungal chemical during manufacturing, because even though the wood in the composite is combined with plastics it can still rot. Composites are typically made of between 40-70% wood.
Capped composite decking is made with a 1/16th inch plastic-like veneer that provides protection for the composite underneath. The cap gives increased scratch resistance, stain and fade and is a bit more expensive than uncapped composite decking and wood decking. It lacks the feeling of real wood and will still show wear over time, though less than regular composites or wood.
Advantages of Composite Decking
Because the boards are made from recycled materials, composite decks are usually considered environmentally friendly. Among the many reasons composite decking is so popular is that it is extremely durable and requires very little care and maintenance. Unlike wood decks, they do not ever need to be sanded, sealed, or stained. They also do not rot and last much longer than wood decks.
Long recognized for their ability to resist heat, UV rays, moisture, scratches, mold, termites and beetles, composite boards do not splinter, twist or warp. Since this type of decking doesn’t fade, it is able to maintain its color, even when exposed to the elements.
￼Composite decks have many time and cost-saving benefits over wooden decks.
Because it resists stains, it is very easy to clean. Composite decks usually only need to be cleaned about twice a year. All that’s needed to clean them is a garden hose with a spray nozzle and a gentle household cleaner. A simple scrubbing with a soft- bristled brush will keep the composites looking like new.
Composite decking includes everything needed to finish a deck. Fascia boards, treads, posts, railings and balusters are all made in matching and compatible colors to allow for elaborate designs and patterns.
Composites will burn, but at much higher temperatures than wood. Composites will get hot underfoot in the sun, but lighter colors will generally stay cooler. Composites don’t attract termites, won’t warp or check and won’t give you splinters like wood.
Composites won’t fade as much as wood decks. After slight fading the first few months, the fading will stop while wood will eventually turn gray. Composite boards are also available in longer sizes than wood, up to 20 feet, meaning you’ll use fewer end joints.
How to Care for Composite Decks
Composite decks require very little maintenance, but a few things will need your attention as you live with your new deck. To avoid clogs and puddles, sweep or blow debris out from between the boards to allow water to run off easily. For food stains, quick action works best. Use a dish soap or degreaser to avoid grease stains and hot water and bleach for fruit and wine stains. Dish soap also works with bleach to remove mildew stains. Scuff marks will usually fade in and blend over time, but if deep scratches occur the board may have to be replaced.
If you’re a Wichita-area homeowner considering making a composite deck apart of your home, contact us here at All Seasons Construction for a free consultation. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have and offer cost-effective solutions that will enhance your home for years to come.