What’s The Difference Between Traditional & Capped Composite?

If you’ve been searching for the ideal composite decking for your garden, you’ve probably come across capped and uncapped composite decking. Whilst both are good choices for most decking projects, there are some differences that you’ll need to consider when choosing between the two.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at the main differences between the two types of composite decking. We’ll also focus on the benefits of capped composite boards and why we think they’re the best option.

 

What Is Uncapped Composite Decking?

Uncapped composite decking boards are the traditional form of composite decking. They’re made from a mixture of recycled wood fibres and plastic polymers. The same material all the way through the product.

During manufacturing, the material is melted down through a process known as extrusion. The molten material is then passed through a die which shapes the material into uncapped composite decking boards.

Although they’re still high-quality composite decking boards, they’re left uncapped which means the wood fibres are left exposed. Some people prefer the appearance of uncapped boards because the exposed wood gives them a similar look to traditional wooden decking.

Even without being capped, these boards are still very water-resistant, durable, and have great longevity. The rough texture of uncapped decking also makes it very slip-resistant, and it can be an ideal choice for installation around swimming pools.

 

What Is Capped Composite Decking?

Capped composite decking has the same core as uncapped decking but also has a polymer sleeve around it that provides extra protection. This polymer sleeve covers all sides and edges of capped composite boards to prevent water from penetrating into the core of the boards.

This added layer of protection has several benefits and means that capped composite decking is the more durable of the two types of composite decking.

Capped composite decking is now the most popular type of composite decking due to its many benefits. This means that most of the composite decking now on the market is capped decking. There are numerous types of co-extrusion (capped) composite decking. We believe that our Forma and Grande range have the best brushing techniques on the market, making the deck board look realistic, just like timber.

 

Is Capped Composite Decking Better Than Uncapped Composite Decking?

Capped composite decking offers many of the same benefits as uncapped composite decking, but it does have a few advantages.

When building a composite deck, some of your main considerations will be the durability and longevity of the composite decking you choose, as well as its overall appearance.

So, let’s take a close look at why capped composite decking is probably the best choice for your decking project.

 

Appearance

Uncapped decking is very aesthetically pleasing, and its exposed wood fibres can give it the appearance of traditional wood decking. For some people, this look is preferential, but the styles and colours of uncapped decking are slightly limited.

Capped composite decking has more versatility when it comes to appearance, and the range of colours and styles available tend to be more extensive.

This gives you more choice when designing your composite deck, and it should be easier for you to find a style and colour scheme to suit your home and garden.

Capped decking also has a more sleek and refined appearance than uncapped decking due to the smooth finish of the polymer sleeve.

Ultimately, which type you prefer in terms of appearance will come down to personal preference. Both uncapped and capped composite decking are visually appealing but for different reasons.

 

Maintenance

When it comes to maintenance, there isn’t a significant difference between uncapped and capped composite decking. Both are made from the same materials which mean they don’t need to be treated, sealed, or stained during their lifespan.

Both types of composite decking are very low-maintenance and only need to be occasionally cleaned. This can be done using a power washer or warm, soapy water and a soft bristle brush. Usually, both uncapped and capped boards will only need to be cleaned around once every 6 months.

The only difference between the two is that uncapped composite decking is slightly more porous than capped composite decking. This means that over time a small amount of moisture can be absorbed into uncapped decking boards.

It’s possible that this could lead to the formation of a small amount of mould or algae. If this is the case, these boards will need to be cleaned more often than capped boards would.

However, this is fairly unlikely and if mould or algae did form on uncapped boards, it would still not compromise the durability of the boards.

 

Longevity

Both uncapped and capped composite deck boards are made from recycled wood and plastic, which means that they’re resistant to rot. In this respect, both have an advantage over real wood, which absorbs water and rots if not properly treated.

As they’re rot-resistant, capped and uncapped boards both have amazing longevity. On average, you can expect composite decking to last between 25 and 30 years.

However, as capped composite decking has an added layer of protection, it is more resistant to the elements and often will last even longer than uncapped boards.

The capped boards in our Clarity range all come with a 20-year guarantee, and the boards in our Forma range all have a 25-year guarantee.

 

Stain resistance

All composite decking is resistant to staining, but capped decking is more stain-resistant than uncapped decking. The extra layer of polymer coating on capped composite decking means that spilt liquids remain on the surface of the boards and can be easily wiped away.

This greatly reduces the chance of any staining from occurring, and in many cases, the spilt fluids will simply run off the surface of the boards themselves.

This is particularly beneficial if you’re planning to install composite decking around a swimming pool as fluids such as sun cream are more likely to be spilt onto the boards.

Uncapped boards are at a slightly higher risk of staining as they don’t have the extra protection of a polymer sleeve. This means that the exposed wood of the boards is more absorbent and spilt fluids could cause stains if left for too long.

However, as long as fluids are cleaned off uncapped boards fairly quickly, this shouldn’t be much of an issue. When compared to other materials such as wood decking, uncapped boards are still far more stain-resistant.

 

Cost

It probably won’t come as much of a surprise that capped composite decking tends to be more expensive than uncapped composite decking. On average, it costs around £40 per square metre for uncapped boards and around £80 per square metre for capped ones.

The higher price of capped composite decking is usually worth paying due to the reasons that we’ve highlighted above. For example, the increase in longevity that capped composite decking provides means it’s highly unlikely you’ll need to repair or replace it during its service life.

There is also another often overlooked factor that may make the higher price of capped composite decking worth paying. If you’re planning on selling your property, then capped composite decking will most likely be a more appealing feature than uncapped decking.

This is due to the fact that most people consider capped composite decking to be of a higher quality than uncapped decking, and this could increase the value that potential buyers place on your property.

 

Availability

One area in which uncapped composite decking has an advantage over capped composite decking is the availability of the products. As capped decking is more costly to produce, the rise in its popularity has led to it being more difficult to source than uncapped decking.

This of course depends on the supplier that you use but usually, capped composite decking will have a longer lead time than uncapped. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue for most people.

However, if you need to start construction on your deck within a short window of time, then it’s possible that using capped composite decking could slow the process down.

Due to the other advantages that capped boards have over uncapped boards, it may still be worth waiting the extra amount of time that it could take to receive them.

 

FAQs

Can capped composite decking be painted?

You can paint capped composite decking if you’d like to. If you do decide to, it’s best to use a primer first and then a coat of acrylic paint. However, we wouldn’t recommend painting our composite decking as it’s unnecessary and won’t increase the durability or longevity of the boards.

It also means that your composite decking will then require more maintenance as you’ll need to repaint it fairly often. This will detract from one of the main benefits of having composite decking in the first place, which is its lack of maintenance requirements.

 

Does capped composite decking get hot in the sun?

Like most decking materials, capped composite decking will get hot when exposed to the sun for long periods of time. This means that it will feel hot underfoot.

As composite decking is designed to withstand thermal expansion, this shouldn’t lead to warping and won’t decrease the longevity of the boards. However, if you want to reduce the amount of heat that your boards absorb, than opt for lighter colours rather than dark ones.

 

Do I need to use a composite deck cleaner on capped composite decking?

You don’t need to use a composite deck cleaner on capped boards. The best ways to clean them are to use either a power washer or warm, soapy water. If you need to remove any stains from capped composite decking, then you can use a mixture of vinegar, baking soda and water.

It is very rare for capped composite decking to stain though, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to do this.

 

Final Thoughts

Although both capped and uncapped composite decking have fairly similar attributes, capped composite decking is the better option overall. Its extra layer of polymer coating gives it slightly better durability and longevity than uncapped composite decking and the extra cost is usually worth it.

If you’ve decided that composite decking is for you, check out our range of products today. You won’t be disappointed.

Gary is the founder and CEO of Ecoscape UK. Gary graduated from Liverpool JM University in 2007 with a 2:1 in Economics. A passion for innovation, design and sustainability, Gary has put to market numerous wpc products/systems, some of which have UK and European registered designs. Outside of work Gary enjoys spending time with his family, the great outdoors and watching Manchester United.

Comments

Comments (24)

  1. Bill
    January 5, 2022

    As someone who has been in the composite building materials industry for over 15 years, I can attest to the fact that capped and uncapped composite decking have been a popular choice for many garden projects. However, as the article points out, there are some key differences between the two that should be considered before making a decision.

    Firstly, let’s talk about uncapped composite decking. As the traditional form of composite decking, it is made from a mixture of recycled wood fibres and plastic polymers, with the same material running throughout the product. This material is then shaped through extrusion and left uncapped, leaving the wood fibres exposed. While this may give it a similar appearance to traditional wooden decking, it also means that the boards are not as protected against water and other elements.

    On the other hand, capped composite boards have a protective layer, usually made of PVC, that covers the entire board. This not only adds an extra layer of protection against moisture, but also makes the boards more resistant to scratches, stains, and fading. In my experience, this makes capped composite boards a better option for long-term durability and maintenance.

    Additionally, uncapped boards may require more frequent cleaning and sealing to maintain their appearance, while capped boards can be easily cleaned with just soap and water. This not only saves time and effort, but also makes them a more eco-friendly option.

    Overall, while both uncapped and capped composite decking are good choices, I believe that the benefits of capped boards make them the ideal option for most projects. They offer superior protection, durability, and ease of maintenance, making them a wise investment for any garden.

  2. David Antony Jones
    January 6, 2022

    As someone who has been in the composite building materials industry for over 15 years, I can confidently say that I have seen the evolution of composite decking firsthand. And I must say, the introduction of capped composite has truly revolutionized the game.

    While traditional uncapped composite decking has been a reliable option for many years, the benefits of capped composite boards cannot be ignored. The process of extrusion, where the material is melted down and shaped, is the same for both types of composite decking. However, the crucial difference lies in the final step – capping.

    Capping is the process of adding a protective layer on top of the composite decking boards. This layer, usually made of a durable polymer, provides an extra level of protection against moisture, stains, and fading. This means that capped composite decking is not only highly water-resistant, but also more resistant to scratches and color fading compared to its traditional counterpart.

    One might argue that the exposed wood fibers in uncapped composite decking give it a more natural look, but let’s not forget that these fibers are also prone to rotting and mold growth. With capped composite, you get the best of both worlds – the natural look of wood without the maintenance and durability issues.

    In my experience, capped composite boards are the best option for any decking project, whether it’s for a garden or a commercial space. They offer the perfect balance of aesthetics and practicality, making them a top choice for homeowners and contractors alike.

    So if you’re looking for the ideal composite decking for your garden, I highly recommend considering capped composite. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

  3. SARA ALTIERI
    February 16, 2022

    This article was very informative and helped me understand the differences between capped and uncapped composite decking. I appreciate the focus on the benefits of capped composite boards and why they are the best option. However, I am curious about the purchasing process for these products. Do you have any recommendations or tips for buying capped composite decking? Overall, great article and I look forward to implementing this knowledge in my own decking project.

  4. Emily
    March 15, 2022

    “Great comparison between traditional and capped composite decking! I appreciate the detailed explanation and benefits of capped boards. However, I’m still unsure about how to purchase the product. Is there a specific brand or retailer you recommend? Overall, this article has definitely helped me make a more informed decision for my decking project.”

  5. Darren Musgrave
    March 17, 2022

    This article was very informative in explaining the differences between traditional and capped composite decking. I appreciate the breakdown of the manufacturing process and the benefits of capped composite boards. However, I am left wondering about the availability and purchasing process for these products. Overall, a helpful read for anyone considering composite decking for their garden.

  6. Blair
    April 12, 2022

    This article provides a clear and informative breakdown of the differences between traditional and capped composite decking. It’s great to learn about the benefits of capped composite boards and why they may be the best option for decking projects. However, I’m curious about the purchasing process for these products. Do you have any tips or recommendations on where to buy them? Overall, a helpful and insightful read for anyone considering composite decking.

  7. MARK MACDONALD
    May 26, 2022

    This article provides a clear and informative breakdown of the differences between traditional and capped composite decking. It highlights the benefits of capped composite boards and why they may be the best option for decking projects. However, I am left wondering about the purchasing process for these products. Perhaps including some information or tips on where to buy them would be helpful. Overall, a great read for anyone considering composite decking for their garden.

  8. Emma
    May 27, 2022

    “Great breakdown of the differences between traditional and capped composite decking! I appreciate the explanation of the manufacturing process and how it affects the final product. I’m curious about the availability and pricing of capped composite boards compared to uncapped ones. Will definitely keep these factors in mind when choosing the right decking for my garden. Thanks for the helpful information!”

  9. Wayne Pascoe
    July 13, 2022

    This article provides a clear and informative breakdown of the differences between traditional and capped composite decking. I appreciate the focus on the benefits of capped composite boards and why they may be the best option. However, I am left wondering about the purchasing process for these products. Perhaps some tips or recommendations on where to find and purchase capped composite decking would be helpful for readers. Overall, a great read for anyone considering composite decking for their garden.

  10. Dominyka
    September 13, 2022

    This article is a great resource for anyone considering composite decking for their garden. It clearly explains the differences between capped and uncapped composite boards and highlights the benefits of capped boards. I appreciate the detailed explanation of the manufacturing process and how it affects the final product. I do have a question, though – how can I purchase capped composite decking? Overall, a very informative and helpful read.

  11. James
    October 17, 2022

    This article provides a clear and informative breakdown of the differences between traditional and capped composite decking. The benefits of capped composite boards are highlighted, making it easy to understand why they may be the best option for your decking project. However, I have a question about how to purchase the product. Overall, this article is a great resource for anyone considering composite decking and I appreciate the concise and clear writing style.

    • NadiaLedger
      February 21, 2023

      Hi there, thank you for your comment! We’re glad to hear that you found our article helpful and informative. As an expert in composite building supplies, I can assure you that capped composite decking is a great choice for any decking project. In terms of purchasing the product, we recommend reaching out to a trusted supplier or manufacturer who can provide you with the specific capped composite boards that best suit your needs. They can also offer guidance on installation and maintenance. We hope this helps and thank you for your feedback!

  12. Terry Cooke
    December 18, 2022

    This article provides a clear and informative breakdown of the differences between traditional and capped composite decking. It highlights the benefits of capped boards and explains the manufacturing process in an easy-to-understand manner. However, I am curious about the purchasing process for these products. Are there specific retailers or brands that offer capped composite decking? Overall, this article has piqued my interest and I look forward to learning more about this decking option.

  13. Malcolm Hoe
    December 20, 2022

    This article provides a clear and helpful breakdown of the differences between traditional and capped composite decking. I appreciate the focus on the benefits of capped composite boards and why they may be the best option. However, as a potential buyer, I am curious about the availability and pricing of these products. Overall, a great read for anyone considering composite decking for their garden.

  14. David Smith
    June 6, 2023

    This article provides a clear and informative breakdown of the differences between traditional and capped composite decking. It’s helpful to know that capped composite boards offer added benefits and are the preferred option. However, I’m curious about where to purchase this type of decking and what factors to consider when making a purchase. Overall, this article has given me a better understanding of composite decking and I appreciate the straightforward writing style.

  15. Harrison chambers
    July 19, 2023

    Great article explaining the differences between capped and uncapped composite decking. I found it very informative and it helped me understand the benefits of capped boards. However, I’m still unsure about where to purchase this product. Do you have any recommendations or tips on finding a reliable supplier? Thank you for sharing this valuable information.

  16. Guy
    July 19, 2023

    “Great breakdown of the differences between traditional and capped composite decking. I appreciate the explanation of the manufacturing process and how it affects the final product. However, I’m still unsure of how to purchase the capped composite boards. Is there a specific brand or supplier you recommend? Overall, this article has been very helpful in my decision-making process for my garden decking. Thank you for sharing this information!”

  17. FWPLloyd
    September 6, 2023

    This article provides a thorough comparison between traditional and capped composite decking, highlighting the benefits of the latter. It’s informative and helpful for those looking to choose the best option for their garden. However, I would have appreciated some guidance on where to purchase capped composite boards. Overall, a great read for anyone considering composite decking for their outdoor space.

  18. Joshua
    October 12, 2023

    This article provides a clear and informative breakdown of the differences between traditional and capped composite decking. I appreciate the focus on the benefits of capped composite boards and why they may be the best option. However, I am left wondering about the purchasing process for these products. Perhaps including some information or tips on how to purchase capped composite decking would be helpful for readers. Overall, a great read for anyone considering composite decking for their garden.

  19. Andrew
    November 21, 2023

    This article provides a helpful breakdown of the differences between traditional and capped composite decking. The information is clear and concise, making it easy to understand for those who are new to the world of composite decking. However, I would have liked to see more information on where to purchase capped composite boards, as I am interested in using them for my own decking project. Overall, a great read for anyone considering composite decking.

  20. natasha stanbury
    December 3, 2023

    “This article does a great job of breaking down the differences between traditional and capped composite decking. I appreciate the explanation of the manufacturing process and how it affects the final product. However, I’m curious about the purchasing process for capped composite boards and if there are any specific things to consider. Overall, this was a helpful read and has me leaning towards capped composite for my decking project.”

  21. Alexander Bannerman
    December 25, 2023

    This blog post provides a clear and informative breakdown of the differences between traditional and capped composite decking. I appreciate the explanation of the manufacturing process and the benefits of capped boards. However, I am curious about the purchasing process for these products. Overall, this article has helped me understand the options available for composite decking and I look forward to exploring capped composite for my garden.

  22. Jason Ryan
    January 6, 2024

    “Great breakdown of the differences between capped and uncapped composite decking! It’s helpful to know that uncapped boards have exposed wood fibers, giving them a more traditional wooden look. However, I’m curious about the purchasing process for capped composite boards. Are there any specific brands or retailers you recommend? Overall, this article has definitely convinced me to consider capped composite for my next decking project.”

  23. Marlow
    March 18, 2024

    “Great breakdown of the differences between capped and uncapped composite decking. I appreciate the explanation of the manufacturing process and how it affects the appearance and water-resistance of the boards. However, I’m wondering about the purchasing process for these products. Are there certain brands or retailers that offer better options? Any personal recommendations or insights from other sources would be helpful. Overall, a helpful article for anyone considering composite decking for their garden.”

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