Composite Decking - The New Trend of Decks Composite Decking - The New Trend of Decks

Now that it is springtime, a lot of people are spending most of their time outdoors working on their homes. Homeowners who want an enjoyable, low maintenance project that adds value to their home might want to consider adding a deck. According to a recent survey done by Remodeling Magazine, adding a deck returned 86.7 percent on the original investment. Building a deck usually involves a lot of sawing, sanding, staining, and time-consuming yearly maintenance. To avoid the hassles that goes into building a deck, some consumers are opting for composite decking, which is easy to install, saves time and effort in maintenance, and still gives you the added investment.

Also known as wood-plastic composites, composite decking is made from recycled wood and plastic as an environmentally friendly option that is growing in popularity. Advantages like durability, color retention and reduced maintenance have increased the replacement of natural wood. Composite decking doesn't require painting and staining. The only maintenance that needs to be done to composite decks is to wash it about two to three times a year to avoid mildew and mold build-up. Composite decking cost about 20 - 30 percent more than pre-treated pinewood, but in the long run, it pays off as you eliminate the yearly maintenance of staining, weathering, and the need to replace rotting or splitting boards.

In addition to being environmentally friendly because of its use of recycled wood fibers and plastics, composite decking doesn't contain wood preservatives. This avoids the issues of arsenic and other heavy metals found in pressure-treated wood. Without any wood preservatives, composite decks are resistant to decay fungi and insects.

There are two types of composite decks available: solid and hollow. Solid profile decking emulates the shape of real wood lumber but also has more expansion and contraction properties because of its mass. Hollow profile decking has an engineered look and less mass than its counterpart. It possesses lower expansion and contraction properties, but is more susceptible to yard or job site damage.

Currently there are more than 50 manufactures of composite decking, and more are on the rise due to technological improvements in composites and the popularity it has among consumers and retailers. All manufactures claim the same benefits of composite decking:

  • Will not rot or deteriorate due to harsh weather.
  • Contains no toxic chemicals or preservatives.
  • Low maintenance, never requiring staining, weathering, or sealing.
  • Resists heating and fading.
  • Easy to install.
  • Safe, slip-resistant when wet.
  • Doesn't sliver and splinter, which makes it comfortable for bare feet to walk on.

Although different brands have the same benefits, what makes them different are the choices of colors and textures available. Many manufacturers are offering complete composite decking systems that include rails, posts and balusters to add to the elegance of your deck.

Composite decking is not a perfect system. Composite decks tend to weather by 10 percent within a three-month period, which is normal considering that composite decks have wood fibers. So when choosing a composite deck, make sure to look at decks that have been exposed to the sun for at least a year to determine if you like the appearance. Because composite decking is weaker than wood, it still needs to be held up by treated wood joist and beams to avoid sagging or drooping.

Having a new deck is a large investment to a home. It is a good idea to do the research into composite decking. Read brochures from various manufactures, check out specifications to each composite by looking at their strength, expansion, water absorption, durability, and density. As a homeowner, you want composite decking to be what you pay for, low-maintenance, environmentally friendly, of good quality, fade resistant, and doesn't warp or splinter. Manufactures of composite decking claim that the number one reason why a deck will bend or will need replacing is because directions are not followed.

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