Decking areas offer properties a great many benefits. Composite decking can be an excellent choice if you are interested in installing a decking area in your garden or adding a roof terrace to your property.
This guide will take you through the pros and cons of composite decking to help you make up your mind.
Composite Decking Explained
Composite deck boards are one of the UK’s most popular decking options. They are made by moulding wood fibres, plastics, and a bonding agent to create durable, long-lasting deck boards.
Synthetic deck boards are available in a variety of colours and finishes and don’t suffer from the same problems that traditional wood decking does.
Composite Decking Types
Not all composite decking boards are the same. When you browse for options, taking the time to read the product specifications from different suppliers is essential.
As well as the differences between different brands, there are also different types of composite decking boards to choose from. These include;
First-generation composite deck boards are made from plastics, real wood fibres, and a bonding agent.
Ecoscape Clarity composite deck boards are made using 45% recycled HDPE and 55% recycled real wood fibres. Boards are available in 3m and 4.8m long boards with a narrow 6mm groove pattern on one side and a wide 25mm groove pattern on the reverse.
This high-quality wood-plastic composite deck board is available in five colours, ash, walnut, autumn, graphite, and charcoal.
It has a high slip resistance and a 20-year guarantee, ensuring you will enjoy a long life expectancy from the decking when installed correctly.
Capped Composite Decking
Capped composite decking is second-generation WPC and offers additional benefits, making it an excellent choice for UK gardens.
Ecoscape Forma capped composite decking is made in the same way that the Ecoscape Clarity range is. The main difference is that state-of-the-art co-extrusion technology coats the deck boards with an outer layer.
This durable membrane gives the decking significantly more protection than regular composite and wood decking.
The Forma range comes with a 25-year product warranty and a 25-year colour guarantee. The boards are available in 3m and 4.8m lengths, and they have a dual finish of a wide groove pattern on one side and natural woodgrain on the reverse.
The durable membrane increases the board’s scratch and stain resistance, and they are available in 6 colours: argent, midnight, Havana, silver birch, flint, and spiced oak.
Hollow Composite decking
Hollow composite decking is a much lighter option made from the same composite materials.
Rather than a solid centre, they have a honeycomb structure to provide strength. They are a cheaper option as they may need more maintenance to remain watertight.
The Pros and Cons of Composite Decking
Installing composite decks can be a big investment, so you will want to be sure you are making the right decision.
Before you buy composite decking, looking at the pros and cons of composite decking will help you to see the benefits and also negatives of choosing this material.
The Pros of Composite Decking
There are numerous benefits to choosing composite decking products over natural wood. Here are the most significant;
Making the most of the space your property has is important. In some cases, a lot of outdoor space is not put to good use.
Steep, uneven gardens can put people off spending time outside. Alternatively, large grassy areas might not get much use but will require significant maintenance.
A deck area can provide a versatile space that the whole family can enjoy all year round. Whether you want to use it for entertaining, dining, relaxing, or a play area for kids, composite decking is an excellent option.
Properties without much garden space can also consider composite decking as an option for a roof terrace, thanks to its ability to last in the UK weather.
Increase Property Value
A well-installed, high-quality decking area can increase property value, making it an excellent investment.
Property developers or those considering selling their homes will do what they can to make them more appealing to potential buyers.
A roof terrace or decking area completed to a high standard using materials that will last will make the most of the space.
Roof terraces can be a great idea for properties with small gardens as they will provide potential new owners with an area where they can enjoy getting outside.
Wood decks look great but require a significant amount of upkeep. Plastic wood composite decks are considerably easier to care for.
Natural wood decks require treatments to protect them from the weather, stain to improve the colour, and other work to keep wood boring insects away.
Even with a lot of maintenance, a natural wood deck doesn’t last as long as composite decking and can rot, split, warp, or splinter.
Maintenance of plastic wood composite decking is straightforward. Regular sweeping with a soft bristle brush will remove dirt and debris without damaging the deck surface.
Washing the deck with warm, soapy water will also help to keep it looking great. Keeping your deck clean minimises the risk of the gaps between deck boards getting clogged up with dirt. Using harmful chemicals to clean composite boards may invalidate your warranty.
The gaps between the boards allow space for thermal expansion, drainage, and ventilation. This is important for keeping your decking in the best condition.
Investing in durable decking is recommended. Even with the best care, cheaper decking will struggle in high-traffic areas.
High-quality capped composite decking protects you against wear and tear, making it look worn. Scuff and scratch resistance and UV protection mean your decking won’t look tired and faded. The Forma decking range is the best for UV stability.
People with pets or children will also notice that a wood deck might start to show signs of wear relatively quickly. Composite decking doesn’t suffer from this issue and needs much less maintenance to stay in good condition.
Composite decking won’t rot or warp in warm weather when installed correctly and is impervious to wood-boring insects.
As well as being durable, composite decks last much longer than their wooden counterparts.
Ecoscape Clarity composite decking comes with 20-year warranty coverage, and the Forma range has 25-year warranty coverage.
These warranties are valid for a residential deck and must be installed to the supplier’s specifications using the provided accessories and equipment.
Professional installation is advised to ensure as long a lifespan for your composite decking as possible. A suitable subframe made from composite or aluminium will last a similar time, providing support for a safe and secure decking area.
The safety of a deck should always be a priority. Composite decking offers a great slip-resistant surface that makes it a great choice for homeowners in the UK.
Cleaning is an important part of maintaining the deck’s slip resistance, as dirt, grime, or standing water can still cause a hazard.
Many people love the natural appearance of a natural wood product and the ability to stain or paint it to their preferred colour.
Modern composite material is available in a variety of colours and finishes. You will be able to choose between wood grain finishes or grooved patterns in beautiful colours that compliment any property or colour scheme.
Using hidden fasteners on composite products also results in a great finish that isn’t ruined by screws going through the boards.
Another great benefit of composite decking is that many options make use of recycled materials, reducing industrial waste and offering an eco-friendly way to deck your garden.
Ecoscape composite decking is made from reclaimed wood and recycled plastics, minimising the need for tree felling and new plastic production.
Ecoscape always ensures the decking material created comes from sustainable sources and has third-party certification from the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).
Cons of Composite Decking
While there are many great benefits to choosing composite when installing decking, there are always disadvantages to consider as well.
In order for you to make an informed choice, it is essential that you explore these as well.
The main disadvantage to choosing composite over traditional timber is the cost. Composite decking can be relatively expensive and won’t be suitable for all budgets.
It is worth mentioning that hollow composite decking is a cheaper option, and when you weigh up the long-term benefits of regular or capped composite, you still get value for money.
Traditional timber might be cheaper initially, but there are maintenance and replacement costs to consider.
Composite decking needs minimal maintenance, but you are stuck with your chosen colour as it can’t be stained.
Real wood decks offer the option of changing colours whenever it comes time to paint or stain them.
Composite decking is significantly heavier than timber decking and needs a secure base to hold it.
A subframe that holds timber decking would not be able to support a composite deck without additional joists that are closer together.
This can also make working with composite slightly harder because it is so heavy.
Composite deck boards won’t warp in direct sunlight, but they will expand. This can cause an issue if deck boards are placed too close to one another, too close to external walls, or are screwed in place.
If a composite deck board has no space, thermal expansion will cause the board to push against another surface or around a screw, and this can cause the board to warp.
Is composite decking worth paying the extra money for?
Yes, composite decking has a great range of benefits that makes it a worthwhile investment.
Buying cheaper decking alternatives will result in having to replace the deck sooner, as well as dealing with the inconvenience and cost of regular maintenance.
Are composite decks slippery when they get wet?
No, high-quality composite deck boards will have high slip resistance, even when they are wet.
If a board is not regularly cleaned, it can result in standing water or sludge that can pose a slip risk.
Can composite decking be pressure washed?
Yes, you can pressure wash composite decking, but you shouldn’t exceed 1,500 PSI when pressure washing decking, and keep the nozzle a safe distance from the deck.
You should avoid sweeping over several decks at any one time and work with the grain down one board at a time.
Always check supplier specifications before to see if they advise against it or provide further instructions.
Does composite decking get hot to walk on?
Any surface will be hot to walk on in extreme heat. If the temperature is high, always check the deck surface temperature and supervise children and pets near it.
Can composite decking get mouldy?
Yes, if composite decking is not cleaned and is exposed to moisture for long periods of time, mould can grow.
Mould can stain composite decking and make it slippery to walk on, so cleaning it is essential.
Every decking material will have pros and cons, so investigating them thoroughly before making a purchase is advised.
The many benefits of composite decking boards far outweigh the disadvantages, making them a good option for property owners in the UK.
High-quality capped composite decking will be weather resistant and have protection against fading from UV rays. The durable membrane will defend against surface damage and ensure it stays in good condition.
Composite is an excellent investment for anyone looking to reduce maintenance time and costs and should last for a considerable time when installed and maintained correctly. Contact us today for more information on the benefits of composite decking, or if you’re ready to discuss your project.