The backyard deck you built several years ago was finished with wood decking. It's time to upgrade your deck and you're thinking that the new composite decking might be a better choice than wood. Take our quiz to see whether you have your composite decking facts straight.
No matter which type of wooden decking you decide to use it will require regular care and maintenance. You should plan on sanding, staining and resealing your wooden deck surface every one to three years.
Composite decking has become the most popular alternative to real wood decking. Consumers are offered a large selection of options when choosing composite decking.
Composite decking is typically manufactured with lumber byproducts and plastic formed to look like wood. Many composite decking products are earth friendly, because they use byproducts that were historically wasted.
Manufacturers mix the wood and plastic components with preservatives and pigments before heating it. After heating the mixture, it is formed into the proper shape and texture before cooling.
Composite decking typically weighs more than wood, but wood decking is stronger structurally.
Composite decking is low maintenance, requiring little care or attention over its serviceable lifetime. When properly installed you can expect a long and easy-care life from your decking.
According to Decks.com, composite decking can stain easily, so you have to make sure to clean up any spills as quickly as possible. You will need to hose composite decking down twice a year with a soap and water scrub.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall of composite decking manufactured by Kandant Composites Inc. because the product was breaking under normal use. The CPSC recommended that consumers check for visible cracks or whether the surface could be easily scratched with a fingernail.
There are only two types of composite decking available on the U.S. market. Solid decking and hollow decking are the two types that may be found in a building supplier’s store.
Solid composite decking looks much more like real wood than equivalent hollow decking does. Solid composites are more popular because of their superior strength.
Solid composite decking will expand and contract more with temperature changes due to its greater mass. Installation recommendations take this characteristic of solid composites into consideration by allowing more spacing for expansion.
According to Forest Products Journal, even though composite decking combines wood and cellulose fibers with plastic, it must still be treated with preservative and fungicides during manufacture. When left untreated even composite decking will rot.
Most composite decking products contain at least 40 percent wood fibers so it is important that the wood be processed with preservatives. Some composites are up to 70 percent.
A chemical compound called zinc borate is commonly used as a wood preservative in production of composite decking. Zinc borate is also popular as a fire retardant and smoke depressant used in a wide range of plastics.
Zinc borate can remain active for more than 20 years when used in the manufacture of composite decking. That is why zinc oxide is the wood preservative of choice by many composite producers.
There are three types of composite decking materials in use today in the USA. The three types are polyethylene-based, polypropylene-based and non-wood plastics.
Many products are labeled appropriately, but you can always double check by going to the decks.com Web site for a list of approved decking materials.
Composite decking installation costs are about equal to the cost of installing wood decking. Both surfaces are applied to traditional pressure-treated wood framing.
Composite decking is weaker than wood so it will require more support underneath. You will have to reposition some joists so that you can add more joists to properly support the composite decking.
Any handy person can usually install composite decking by themselves. Nevertheless, be careful to follow the manufacturer’s directions to the letter to insure that you do not void warranty coverage.