When planning to build a composite deck, the first thing you’ll likely consider is the type of boards you’re going to use. You’ve probably noticed that there are several different types, such as capped, uncapped, hollow, and solid.
One of the most versatile options is reversible composite decking. These boards give you the freedom to install them in any orientation, meaning that you can create your own unique look and style in your outdoor space.
So, let’s take a look at the greatest benefits of reversible composite decking to get you up to speed.
Are All Composite Boards Reversible?
If you’re thinking of buying composite deck boards for a decking project, you may be wondering if it matters which way round you install them. Well, unless you buy reversible decking boards, then it certainly does matter.
Composite decking boards that are sold these days are either capped or uncapped composite boards. The capped decking boards have an extra layer of polymer coating to give them added protection.
If the composite decking isn’t reversible, then it most likely means that the boards will have three-sided capping. These boards have a layer of capping that covers every part of the board except for the bottom layer. This is done to improve water drainage and breathability.
These composite deck boards are not reversible and need to be installed with the uncapped layer of the boards facing down.
There are also some composite decking boards that are grooved on one side and smooth on the other. These boards are also not technically reversible, but there is some debate about how they should be installed.
Some say that the grooved side should always be installed facing upwards as it increases friction and gives the boards added slip resistance. However, others argue that the grooves should be facing down as this increases the breathability of the boards.
Ultimately, you should install these boards based on the manufacturer’s instructions, as this should guarantee that you get the most benefit out of them.
What Are Reversible Composite Decking Boards?
Reversible composite decking boards are capped on each side of the board. This means that they can be installed in any orientation, making them an easy and versatile option for any decking project.
Reversible composite decking is an especially good choice for beginners who aren’t as confident in their DIY skills as those with more experience.
Most reversible composite decking is hollow. This is to allow for more breathability in the boards, which compensates for the breathability that is lost by fully capping them.
Although hollow decking have as much durability as solid composite decking. Hollow composite decking is also more resistant to contracting and expanding during temperature fluctuations, which makes it less likely to warp.
Why Choose Reversible Composite Decking Boards?
Reversible decking boards have all the usual benefits of composite decking, along with some added bonuses.
Generally, reversible composite decking doesn’t tend to be much more expensive than traditional composite decking. This means it’s usually worth investing in it for its long-term benefits.
So, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of reversible composite decking, as well as some of the advantages that it shares with traditional composite decking.
One of the greatest benefits of reversible composite decking is the versatility it offers you in terms of the look and finish of your completed deck. As the boards are reversible, you have the choice of two different styles that can compliment the look of your home and garden.
Our Forma range of reversible composite decking comes with a wide groove pattern on one side and an authentic wood grain pattern on the other. Both sides have a sleek finish that recreates the look of traditional timber deck boards in a range of traditional and contemporary colours.
The Forma range has colour schemes to match the style of any outdoor space, such as spiced oak, silver birch and argent.
Our Clarity range of reversible composite decking has a narrow groove pattern on one side and a wide groove pattern on the other. This gives you the opportunity to create unique styles and patterns in your outdoor space.
These boards also have a traditional timber finish and come in a range of contemporary colours such as walnut, autumn and charcoal.
Reversible composite decking has amazing performance regardless of which orientation you choose. Both the grooved sides and the smooth, wood grain finish sides have a high anti-slip rating. However, the grooved sides tend to be slightly more slip-resistant.
This again highlights the versatility of reversible composite decking. If you’re installing your deck in an area that will frequently be exposed to water, such as by a swimming pool, you can opt to have the grooved surface facing upwards to increase slip resistance.
The smooth sides of our reversible composite decking are still very slip-resistant. If you prefer to install your decking with this side facing upwards, their performance in this metric will still be excellent.
As composite decking is water-resistant, composite boards will usually be dry within 30 minutes of water exposure.
As with all composite decking, reversible composite boards require virtually no maintenance over the course of their service life. They don’t need to be stained, sealed, treated, or painted.
The materials that they’re made from make them naturally water-resistant, and they don’t require any extra care to maintain this.
There is a slight difference in maintenance depending on which side of the reversible composite decking is facing upwards once installed. The smooth, wood grain surface will accumulate less dirt and debris meaning it only needs to be cleaned very occasionally.
If your composite decking is installed with the grooved surface facing upwards, then it will naturally accumulate more dirt and debris and will need to be cleaned more often.
Fortunately, cleaning composite decking is very straightforward. You can either use a power washer or warm, soapy water and a soft bristle brush. Generally, you’ll only need to clean it around once every six months.
Choosing high-durability composite decking means that you can be sure your deck will last for a very long time. As composite decking is made from a mixture of recycled wood and plastic polymers, it is resistant to rot which means it has great longevity.
On average, composite decking lasts for between 25 and 30 years, and reversible composite decking has the same lifespan.
Reversible composite decking can have an even longer lifespan than non-reversible, three-side capped composite boards. On three-side capped boards, the bottom layer is uncapped but this is the side that is in contact with the joists.
This can lead to moisture building up in this area, leading to a slightly decreased lifespan. Due to this, fully-capped, reversible composite decking may have an advantage when it comes to longevity.
When compared to other decking materials such as traditional timber decking or UPVC decking, reversible composite decking is far more eco-friendly.
The fact that composite decking boards are made with recycled wood and plastic means that no trees have to be cut down to make them. It also reduces the amount of plastic waste that would otherwise have to go to a landfill.
The sealants and stainers that are used on traditional timber deck boards can be harmful to the environment. As reversible composite decking doesn’t require the use of these chemicals, its impact on the environment is much less significant.
The longevity of reversible composite decking also reduces its environmental impact as it needs to be repaired and replaced less often than traditional timber.
Ease of installation
Another benefit of reversible composite decking is that it’s very easy to install. This is due to the fact that it can be installed in any orientation, depending on your preferences. This is particularly helpful if you don’t have much experience in installing decking yourself.
This gives reversible decking a big advantage over wooden decking boards when it comes to installation.
For most wooden decking boards, it’s vital that they’re installed in the correct orientation. If they’re installed with the bark-side facing down, this will lead to cupping. Cupping causes water to pool on the surface of the decking, which can lead to rotting and moulding.
The correct orientation for traditional timber decking is for the bark side of the boards to be facing upwards. This causes crowning which is necessary for water drainage.
With reversible composite decking, none of this matters as they can be installed with either side facing up or down. This makes them the best choice when it comes to ease of installation.
Expansion & contraction
As with all types of decking material, composite decking does expand and contract depending on fluctuations in temperature. It expands during high temperatures and contracts during low temperatures.
However, composite decking expands and contracts far less than traditional wood decking due to its high level of water resistance. It’s also designed to withstand the small changes in size that occur during expansions and contractions.
Reversible composite decking has a slight advantage in this area as reversible boards tend to be hollow. This means that they expand and contract even less than normal composite decking.
Although composite decking is generally resistant to warping, reversible boards are even less likely to warp due to their lower rate of expansion and contraction.
How much does reversible composite decking cost?
Many companies charge more for their reversible boards than they do for their standard ones. The differences in the price vary widely depending on the company.
However, all of the boards in our Clarity and Forma ranges are reversible and are very affordably priced. All five colours of our Clarity range of boards are £41.55 per square metre. All six colours of our Forma range of boards are £66.12 per square metre.
Do reversible composite boards have long warranties?
Typically, all composite products come with long warranties. This is due to the durability and longevity of composite as a material. Suppliers have confidence that composite boards will last for a long time and won’t need to be repaired often, which is why the warranties are usually so long.
The reversible boards in our Clarity range all come with a 20-year warranty, and the boards in our Forma range come with a 25-year warranty.
Do I need to leave gaps in between reversible composite decking?
Although reversible boards tend not to expand and contract at the same rate as traditional composite boards, you should still leave the same amount of space in between the boards to allow for any changes in size.
As a rule, you should always leave between 3mm and 6mm in between composite boards to allow for expansion and contraction. If the boards are too close together, it could lead to them being damaged during thermal expansion.
As you can see, reversible composite decking has many benefits when compared to traditional composite decking and timber decking. It comes with all the advantages of normal composite decking but is also easier to install and more versatile.
Like traditional composite decking, it requires virtually no maintenance and has a very long lifespan.
If you’re looking for composite boards that can give a unique, custom look to your home and garden, then reversible boards are the best choice for you. Why not get a free quote from Ecoscape today to see how much reversible decking could cost for your garden?