Investing in a decking area will give homeowners a versatile space that gives them more useable space and can add value to the property.
Decking can be a welcome addition to any garden. However, the upkeep and maintenance can put a lot of people off.
Composite decking provides a low-maintenance, long-lasting option that is perfect for the UK climate.
Composite Decking Explained
Composite decking is created by mixing wood fibres, plastics, and a bonding agent. They are then moulded to create decking boards that offer consumers a great range of benefits.
Ecoscape composite decking is made using 95% recycled materials and has third-party certification from the FSC that confirms the wood used is from a sustainable and ethical source.
Composite Decking Benefits
The reason composite decking is so popular in the UK is that there are so many benefits to using it. These benefits include:
Safety should always be a priority whenever carrying out any home improvements. Your decking should be installed to a high level to ensure it is safe, and you should also check the quality of the decking for its slip resistance properties.
Composite decking will usually offer a great level of slip resistance. In the case of Ecoscape’s Clarity and Forma range, the composite deck boards are tested for slip resistance in wet and dry conditions.
To ensure the decking passes the Pendulum Test, it must exceed a PTV value of 36, which the Ecoscape range of composite decking does comfortably for both wide and narrow groove patterns.
High-quality composite decking offers excellent durability. Ecoscape Forma capped composite decking comes with a 25-year colour guarantee and is protected against fading from direct sunlight.
The durable membrane that covers the traditional composite deck boards also offers additional scuff, scratch, and stain resistance.
Composite decking does not suffer from rot, splintering, warping, or wood boring insects like traditional timber decking.
When composite decking is installed according to the supplier guidelines and properly cared for, it can last a considerable time.
Ecoscape Clarity composite decking comes with a 20-year residential warranty, and the Forma-capped composite range has a 25-year residential warranty.
Occasionally, composite decking can last two or three times as long as wood decking.
Composite decking is available in a vast range of colours and styles. Ecoscape Clarity and Forma composite decking are available in 11 colours in total, and you can decide between a natural wood grain finish, narrow groove pattern, or wide groove pattern, depending on which range you choose.
One of the most significant reasons that composite decking boards are so popular in the UK is that they are low-maintenance.
Wood decking requires a significant amount of upkeep, including regular cleaning, staining, painting, and treating the wood. Even well-maintained timber decking won’t last as long as composite decking.
Composite boards that are regularly cleaned will maintain high performance and last for a considerable time.
Why are Drainage and Ventilation so Important for Composite Decking?
During installation, composite decking boards and any exterior walls will be spaced apart from one another. This allows for thermal expansion. Composite decking that is not spaced can warp when boards expand and have nowhere to go.
The gaps in decking also allow for easier drainage and ventilation. If the decking is not regularly cleaned and swept, dirt and debris can clog up the gaps.
Clogged decking gaps can result in water pooling or failing to drain properly, resulting in mould or mildew forming. Mould and mildew can stain decking or cause a slip hazard, so they must be treated immediately.
The gaps also allow ventilation between boards which helps to keep them dry, minimising the exposure to moisture. A well-aired, dry deck surface is much easier to keep clean and lasts longer than a deck left dirty.
How to Clean Composite Decking
With so many excellent benefits, a composite deck can be a great choice for an outside dealing area in the UK.
Cleaning composite decking is an essential part of keeping the deck looking great. Following our cleaning guides will help you to ensure the deck remains safe and lasts for a long time.
Brushing Composite Decking
The easiest part of maintaining your composite deck will be sweeping it clear of debris. To do this correctly, you should clear your deck so dirt and debris don’t stay trapped under furnishings.
Using a soft-bristled brush, you should sweep each deck board for its entire length. Going with the grain will minimise resistance and ensure you don’t damage the board, and this is especially important with grooved deck boards.
Sweeping the gap between the boards should dislodge debris, and there are also tools you can purchase that can be used to clear the gaps. Avoid using sharp tools which can damage the composite.
After sweeping the deck board, you can hose it down to remove any last traces of dirt and clear the gaps.
Cleaning Composite Decking
To clean your deck, you should follow the guidelines for sweeping the deck to clear any loose debris before you get started.
After the deck has been swept clear, use a bucket of washing-up liquid and warm water, and this should be applied to the deck and scrubbed with a soft-bristled brush.
Like sweeping the deck, going with the grain is advised.
Trims and edges can be difficult areas to clean as dirt tends to get trapped here. Cleaning these areas with a sponge can more effectively remove compacted dirt.
After cleaning the deck, hose it down to remove any remaining dirt and ensure the soapy water has been completely removed.
Soapy residue can stain your decking or cause a slipping hazard if left.
Deep Cleaning Composite Decking
Regularly sweeping and cleaning decking will keep it in good condition. You will also be able to give it a deep clean using a specified composite deck cleaner and a power washer.
Before using any cleaning products or a power washer on your decking, you should check to see if the supplier advises against this. The supplier may advise on the pressure the composite deck should be washed at.
If possible, you can also spot clean a piece of scrap decking to ensure the cleaning product and power washer don’t mark it.
Follow the cleaner instructions, which will typically ask you to apply it to the deck and leave for a set time while it works.
After allowing time for the cleaner to work on the engrained dirt on your deck, you can use your power washer to clean it off.
A pressure of 1,500 PSI should be the maximum when cleaning your composite deck boards with a power washer and should be held at least 10 inches from the deck’s surface.
You should always use the fan attachment on a power washer when cleaning composite decking to spread the concentration of water across a wider area.
Once again, you should move down the length of the deck board and go with the grain. Sweeping a pressure washer from side to side can mark the surface.
Take a little more time with trims and edges to ensure they are thoroughly cleaned.
Composite Decking Stain Removal
Certain stains might appear on decking every so often, and cleaning your whole deck might not be necessary. Use the following tips for cleaning stains off composite decking;
Bird and Animal Droppings
Remove as much of the animal droppings from the deck before cleaning the area with a soft brush and warm soapy water.
Oil or Grease
If you are entertaining or having a barbecue, it is easy for food to drop onto the decking. The oils and grease from food can stain, so cleaning the area quickly with warm soapy water and a soft brush will help.
Keeping your deck dry and clean should help to protect it from mould. If mould does grow, remove it with a soft-bristled brush and clean the area with warm soapy water.
Snow or Ice
If you have heavy snowfall or your decking is icy, clear it with a plastic shovel to avoid damaging the composite or using an ice melt that is calcium chloride-based should minimise the risk of stains or slips.
Covering your decking area can help to protect it from the elements and improve its lifespan. There are a variety of ways to cover decking from the sun and rain, including;
- Shade Sail
- Patio Umbrella
There are great options for all budgets, with some temporary and permanent options available.
What to Avoid When Cleaning Decking
You should always avoid using harsh chemicals when cleaning composite decking. Not only will this damage the surface, but it can also invalidate warranties.
Sharp or abrasive cleaning tools should also be avoided when cleaning composite decking. Always use a soft brush, and be careful if you use other tools like spades as you risk damaging the surface.
How often should decking be cleaned?
Composite decking should be swept regularly to avoid dirt and debris building up. The amount you will need to do this will depend on the area the decking is situated and how much debris is blown onto it.
Cleaning it bi-annually with warm soapy water is usually enough unless there is high footfall and you regularly entertain.
Deep cleaning a composite decking area will not have to be as regular but can be useful after winter when you won’t have had an opportunity to get out and clean it as often.
Do I have to maintain my decking subframe?
Using joist tape on timber deck subframes is a great way to protect them from the weather.
If you have used a plastic, composite, or aluminium subframe, it will not need to be covered to protect it from moisture.
How long does capped composite decking last?
Capped composite decking should last around 25 to 30 years. Sometimes, it will last even longer if the decking and subframe are protected from moisture and well maintained.
What causes composite decking to warp?
Warped composite decking is caused by poor installation. Not allowing space for thermal expansion means decking boards push against exterior walls or other boards, which makes them warped.
Screwing composite boards directly into joists can also cause the board to warp as it cannot move when it expands.
Hidden fastening clips will hold the boards in place and provide a natural spacing between them. Hidden fasteners allow for expansion while providing a secure structure.
Does composite decking rot?
No, composite decking will not rot, but it can sustain damage over time, so it should still be well maintained and cleaned regularly.
Composite decking is one of the easiest deck materials to clean and maintain. Brushing away surface debris with a soft bristle brush and using a PH-neutral detergent solution before giving it a rinse with your garden hose will typically be enough to remove dirt and keep the deck clean.
Occasionally using a specially made composite decking cleaner to give it a deep clean along with a powerful jet wash will help to make regular maintenance enough to keep the decking clean.
Failure to clean a deck will result in a build-up of dirt and grim that can hamper drainage by blocking expansion gaps and resulting in standing water.
Composite decking requires minimal effort compared to wooden deck options that need significantly more care.
You should clean your composite decking regularly and ensure furniture is moved to prevent dirty water and debris from getting stuck under it.
Clean decking will give you and your family somewhere to enjoy during the summer months. Composite provides a great option that requires minimal maintenance, so if you’re considering this option for your garden, contact us today for a free quote.