When selecting suitable material for home decking, it can be confusing as to whether it is best to opt for traditional wood timber or a man-made decking alternative instead. Here is why composite decking has become the go-to decking material choice for residential homeowners, and all the tips and tricks you need to know on how to maintain your composite decking.
What is Composite Decking?
Composite decking is made from a variety of wooden fibers and plastics, which are then bonded together to create man-made wooden boards. This means composite boards can then withstand adverse weather conditions and require less year-round maintenance than other decking alternatives. Composite decking is also more environmentally friendly, as it does not involve cutting down excess wood in order to create the decking materials, making it an ideal lumber alternative. Moreover, some types of composite decking are actually made from recycled materials, making them much better for the environment in this respect too. As it is a synesthetic wood material, composite decking is able to also be stain-resistant, splinter resistant, and can come in a variety of colors and textures to suit individual customer décor choices. Unlike traditional wood, composite decking will also not fade over time, helping your decking to look newer for longer. Composite decking is also far more lightweight than another wood decking, making it a good option for those who may wish to lay their own decking, as well as for those who want to hire an installer to complete the process for them.
Why is Composite Decking so Popular?
With so many options to choose from, composite decking has now become one of the biggest timber decking alternatives, with many customers now opting for composite decking as opposed to more traditional alternatives, such as timber wood boards. This is because composite decking still manages to retain all the look and feel of real wood decking, whilst being far more durable and hard-wearing. Unlike other more traditional methods of decking, which can rot over time, composite decking will maintain its color and not crack or split. It is also on the whole far less expensive than more traditional forms of wood, making it a much more budget-friendly option for many homeowners.
Types of Composite Decking
The two most common varieties of composite decking are uncapped and capped and are further categorized into hollow and solid options too. Here is everything you need to know about which type of composite decking is right for you.
Uncapped Composite Decking:
Although the current cheaper option to purchase is uncapped decking, this is down to the fact that uncapped decking does not protect against color fading or staining. If you opt for uncapped composite decking, be prepared that once exposed to outside weather conditions, this type of decking will fade as the wood oils, known as residual tanners, will leach from the boards. However, uncapped composite decking is still very durable and will not splinter or crack over time.
Capped Composite Decking
The more expensive of the two but on the whole still the more popular choice, capped composite decking is the hardier option. This is all down to the plastic coating which is added to the exterior in order to make the boards fade and stain resistant even when exposed to changing environmental and weather conditions. Although some homeowners don’t mind the natural fading of their decking over time, for those who want their decking to stay looking pristine for as long as possible, then capped composite decking is a must.
Hollow and Solid Decking:
Once you have selected between uncapped and capped, there is then the further choice of having a hollow or solid boards. Hollow boards are lighter, thanks to the void chambers which run inside the boards. Solid boards, as the name would suggest, are much heavier and are also stronger. The choice of hollow or solid decking will largely depend on the size and planned use of the proposed decking area. If there will be heavy items of furniture added on top of it, then it might be advisable to opt for solid boards to withstand the weight. However, if the decking area will be elevated, lighter hollow boards may be a more suitable option. Companies such as Composite Decking Ireland, http://compositedeckingireland.ie/, can offer a wide variety of decking possibilities to choose from, and their expert installers will be able to advise as to which choice of composite decking is right for you.
Tips to Take Care of Composite Decking
Once your decking area has been fully installed, composite decking does still require some maintenance, although this is of course far less in comparison to more traditional forms of wood timber decking. Here are some top tips as to how to maintain and take care of your composite decking.
To keep your decking looking its best, cleaning it regularly is a good idea. Although composite decking is resistant to fading, cracking, and staining, problems still can occur if it is left completely unmaintained, such as mildew or mold. Sweeping it is an easy way to remove any excess debris, such as fallen leaves, and will also help to prevent any unwanted grass or leaves from getting stuck between the boards and causing an unsightly build-up. During the latter half of the year, when trees and plants are shedding their leaves, it is a good idea to sweep your decking every couple of days to keep it clear. Washing your decking down with water regularly is also an essential part of basic composite decking maintenance. Using your garden hose to get rid of any dirt, soil, or another build-up on your decking is a quick and easy way to keep it clean and clear.
Remove Standing Water:
Although made to withstand changing weather conditions, composite boards can still suffer the effects of standing rainwater. If puddles form regularly on your decking, despite the fact that composite decking is resistant to rotting, it is still a good idea to try and mop these up as they can lead to unwanted patches of mold or mildew. If possible, protect your decking with an overhanging awning, or add woven rugs to protect the surface of your decking. However, when choosing a rug, always opt for a woven material, as rubber backed rugs can seal in moisture which can lead to further mold or mildew problems. If you notice that rainwater from your roof is continually falling on your decking, try to redirect the downspouts so that the decking doesn’t continue to become the target of this extra water.
Remember to Ventilate:
Having a well-ventilated deck is a key component of decking maintenance. Air needs to be able to circulate beneath composite decking in order that it can dry out quickly without becoming waterlogged. It is important to remember this during installation and leave around a 6-inch gap of the unobstructed area below your decking in order to prevent airflow issues in the future. It is also advisable not to install decking near to the dryer vents of your home. This is because the hot air from the vents will warp and disrupt the integrity of even composite decking, which can make the decking material deteriorate much faster than it naturally would.
Composite decking is designed to be hard-wearing, however, sometimes it will still need to be scrubbed in order to remove any excess dirt build-up. Greasy spills can be very damaging, so need to be cleaned up and scrubbed off immediately. Although stain resistant, it is important to treat your composite decking well if you want it to last the test of time by not allowing patches of dirt or grime to needlessly build up. Salt to dissolve ice and snow in wintertime can also do damage to the decking beneath if left unchecked, so always be sure to scrub off any extra salt left behind too.
Take Care of Gaps:
The natural look and feel of decking inevitably come with gaps between the boards. In order to stop debris build-up, or plants from growing in these gaps, be sure to gently rinse out these areas regularly. Spraying a weed retardant product between the board gaps can also help to deter unwanted plants from taking up residence there too. This is particularly important during warmer weather when plants are more likely to sprout and grow in gaps between patio and decked areas.
Whilst composite decking is much easier to care for than more traditional forms of wood decking, it is still important to be vigilant and ensure that all areas of composite decking are regularly swept, washed down, and free of standing rainwater, dirt, debris, or weeds. If well taken care of, composite decking can look newer for longer and can really stand the test of time when it comes to creating a beautiful and bespoke outdoor space for your home.
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