composite decking nz (2)

Ultimate Guide To What Is Composite Decking

Welcome to the world of composite decking, a durable and aesthetically pleasing alternative to traditional wood decking. As more homeowners look to enhance their outdoor living spaces, composite decking has emerged as a popular choice due to its numerous benefits, including minimal maintenance, long-lasting quality, and environmental friendliness. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about composite decking—from what it is made of to its cost-effectiveness and installation processes. Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or considering professional installation, you’ll find valuable insights to help you decide if composite decking is the right choice for your home.

Composite decking is a durable and low-maintenance alternative to traditional wood decking, made from a blend of wood fibers and recycled plastics. It offers the natural look of wood without the frequent upkeep, resisting weather, rot, and insect damage effectively. Ideal for homeowners seeking a long-lasting solution, composite decking is also environmentally friendly, utilizing recycled materials in its construction. This decking option provides a range of colors and styles, allowing for customization according to personal aesthetic preferences. Whether you’re upgrading your outdoor space or embarking on a new build, composite decking offers a sustainable, attractive, and cost-effective choice.

What Is Composite Decking?

Composite decking is a modern alternative to traditional wood decking, characterized by its superior durability and maintenance requirements. This material is often selected by homeowners and builders who seek a long-lasting solution for outdoor spaces without the constant upkeep that wood demands.

Definition of Composite Decking

Composite decking is made from a blend of wood fibers, plastics, and a variety of binding agents. This combination results in a material that mimics the aesthetic appeal of wood while providing enhanced resistance to moisture, wear, and weather conditions. Unlike pure wood, composite decking does not warp, rot, or splinter over time, making it a safe and sturdy option for areas with heavy foot traffic.

Materials Used in Composite Decking

The primary materials used in composite decking include:

Wood Fibers: These are typically recycled from sawdust or wood chips, contributing to the eco-friendliness of the product.

Plastics: Often derived from recycled plastic bags or milk jugs, the plastic components provide moisture resistance and durability.

Binding Agents: These agents help in forming the composite material, ensuring that the wood fibers and plastics are well-combined to maintain structural integrity.

These materials are combined under heat and pressure to form decking boards that are uniform in size and shape. The result is a product that not only looks like wood but also feels similar to it, without the inherent drawbacks of natural wood.

Brief History of Composite Decking and Its Evolution

Composite decking first emerged in the market in the late 1980s as an innovative solution aimed at reducing the maintenance required for wooden decks. Initially, the product faced some challenges, such as moisture retention and color fading. However, advancements in technology and improvements in the manufacturing process have led to higher-quality versions that address these issues effectively.

Over the years, manufacturers have introduced a variety of colors and textures that mimic different types of wood, providing even more options for consumers. Today, composite decking is a favored choice for residential and commercial projects alike, due to its longevity and minimal environmental impact.

In conclusion, composite decking represents a significant advancement in building materials, offering a sustainable, durable, and attractive option for outdoor living spaces. Its evolution continues as manufacturers find new ways to improve its performance and aesthetic qualities, making it an excellent investment for anyone looking to enhance the value and functionality of their outdoor areas.

Benefits Of Composite Decking

When considering an upgrade to your outdoor space, composite decking offers a compelling array of advantages over traditional wood decking. This material, often praised for its durability and low maintenance, has been gaining popularity among homeowners seeking both functionality and aesthetic appeal in their decks. Here’s a closer look at why composite decking might be the right choice for your next home improvement project.

Enhanced Durability and Longevity

One of the standout features of composite decking is its superior durability compared to traditional wood decking. Composite decks are made from a blend of wood fibers and plastics, which results in a material that is less likely to warp, crack, or splinter over time. This makes composite decking a wise investment for homeowners looking for a long-lasting solution that retains its quality year after year.

Minimal Maintenance Required

For those who prefer to spend more time enjoying their outdoor space rather than maintaining it, composite decking is an attractive option. Unlike wood decks, which require regular sanding, staining, and sealing, composite decking needs only basic cleaning to keep it looking fresh. A simple routine of sweeping and occasional washing with soap and water is enough to maintain its appearance, saving you time and effort.

Resistant to Weather, Rot, and Pests

Composite decking is engineered to withstand the elements, making it an ideal choice for a variety of climates. Its composition makes it resistant to rot, decay, and insect damage—common issues that can significantly shorten the lifespan of wood decks. Additionally, composite materials are well-suited to handle various weather conditions, from intense sun exposure to heavy rain and snow, without deteriorating.

Wide Range of Colors and Styles

The aesthetic options offered by composite decking are vast and varied. Available in an array of colors and styles, composite decking can mimic the look of natural wood or provide a unique appearance. This versatility allows homeowners to match their decking to the existing style of their home or create a standout feature that enhances their outdoor decor.

Eco-Friendly Choice

Environmentally conscious homeowners will appreciate the sustainable aspects of composite decking. Many brands use recycled materials, such as reclaimed wood and recycled plastics, to manufacture their decking. This not only helps reduce waste but also minimizes the need for virgin materials, contributing to environmental conservation. Opting for composite decking is a practical way to enjoy a beautiful outdoor space while supporting eco-friendly practices.

Choosing composite decking means investing in a durable, low-maintenance, and aesthetically versatile option that also supports environmental sustainability. Whether you are refurbishing an old deck or building a new one, composite decking offers a range of practical and ecological benefits that make it a smart choice for any homeowner. With its ability to withstand the rigors of weather and wear, composite decking remains a top choice for those looking to enhance the value and enjoyment of their home.

By understanding these benefits, homeowners can make an informed decision that aligns with both their aesthetic desires and functional needs, ensuring a deck that not only looks great but also stands the test of time.

How Is Composite Decking Made?

Composite decking is a popular choice among homeowners and builders who seek a durable, low-maintenance alternative to traditional wood decking. Understanding how composite decking is made can help you appreciate its value and sustainability features. Here, we explore the intricate manufacturing process, the materials used, and the role of various additives that enhance the product’s performance and appearance.

The Manufacturing Process of Composite Decking

The production of composite decking is a sophisticated process that combines recycled plastics with wood fibers to create a product that is both eco-friendly and robust. The process typically involves the following steps:

1. Material Preparation: Manufacturers start by collecting recycled materials, primarily plastics like polyethylene or polypropylene, and wood fibers, which can come from sawdust, wood chips, or wood fiber scraps. These materials are thoroughly cleaned and ground into a fine consistency.

2. Blending: The wood fibers and plastics are then blended. During this stage, precise quantities of each material are mixed to ensure uniformity in the final product.

3. Adding Additives: At this point, various additives are introduced to the blend. These can include UV stabilizers to prevent fading from sunlight, colorants to achieve the desired shade, and bonding agents to enhance the durability and longevity of the decking.

4. Extrusion: The mixed material is fed into an extruder, where it is heated and melted. It is then forced through a shaped die to form the decking boards. This extrusion process is crucial as it defines the dimensions and profile of the decking.

5. Cooling and Cutting: The extruded decking boards are cooled, often using water baths or misters, to solidify the shape. Once cooled, the boards are cut to standard lengths for easy installation.

6. Finishing Touches: Finally, some manufacturers emboss a wood grain texture onto the boards to give them a more natural appearance. Additional treatments might also be applied, such as anti-slip coatings or further color adjustments.

Types of Plastics and Wood Fibers

The choice of plastics and wood fibers significantly affects the performance and sustainability of composite decking. Recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE) is commonly used due to its strength and durability. Polypropylene, another plastic option, offers excellent moisture resistance and thermal stability.

Wood fibers are typically sourced from post-industrial wood waste, contributing to the product’s eco-friendly profile. These fibers help give the decking its strength and provide a more natural look and feel.

Role of Additives in Composite Decking

Additives play a pivotal role in enhancing the functionality and aesthetic of composite decking. Here are some common additives used:

UV Stabilizers: These help maintain the color and integrity of the decking, preventing degradation from UV radiation.

Colorants: Integral to achieving a consistent and lasting color, colorants are mixed thoroughly with the other materials during manufacturing.

Anti-Fungal Agents: To prevent mold and mildew growth, which can be a problem in outdoor environments, anti-fungal agents are often added.

Understanding the manufacturing process and materials involved in producing composite decking allows consumers to make informed decisions about their decking choices. This robust, sustainable option offers significant advantages over traditional wood, making it a smart choice for eco-conscious homeowners.

Installation Of Composite Decking 

Installing composite decking can transform your outdoor living space, offering a durable and low-maintenance alternative to traditional wood decks. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast eager to take on a new project or someone considering hiring a professional, this guide will walk you through the necessary steps, tools, and tips to ensure a successful installation of your composite decking.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Install Composite Decking

1. Planning and Preparation: Before you begin, it’s crucial to plan the layout of your deck. Measure the area carefully and decide on the pattern and direction of the deck boards. Check local building codes to ensure compliance.

2. Gathering Materials and Tools: You will need specific tools and materials for the installation, including:

  • Composite deck boards
  • Joists and fasteners
  • Drill
  • Circular saw
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Chalk line

3. Building the Frame: The foundation of any deck is the frame. Use pressure-treated lumber to construct the frame, ensuring it’s strong and level. Space the joists according to the composite decking specifications—typically 16″ on center.

4. Laying the Decking Boards: Start laying the decking boards from the outer edge of the deck and work your way in. Use a chalk line to keep the boards aligned. Secure the boards to the joists with hidden fasteners or deck screws. Leave appropriate spacing between the boards for expansion and contraction.

5. Finishing Touches: Once all the boards are secured, you can add finishing touches such as railings, stairs, and trim. This not only enhances the deck’s aesthetic but also ensures safety.

Tools and Materials Needed for Installation

To efficiently install composite decking, having the right tools and materials is essential. This includes:

  • Composite deck boards and matching fasteners
  • A high-quality drill for making pilot holes and driving screws
  • A durable circular saw for cutting boards to size
  • A level and tape measure for accurate placement and spacing
  • Safety gear such as gloves and goggles

Ensure that all materials are suitable for outdoor use and compatible with composite decking to prevent issues like corrosion.

Tips for DIY Enthusiasts and When to Consider Professional Help

DIY Tips:

  • Take your time to understand the material. Composite decking can behave differently from wood, especially in how it expands and contracts.
  • Always pre-drill holes to prevent splitting the boards.
  • Keep the deck clean and free of debris during installation.

When to Call a Professional:

  • Consider hiring a professional if the deck design is complex or if the installation exceeds your DIY skills.
  • Professional installers can also ensure that the deck is built to code and structurally sound, which is crucial for safety and longevity.

Installing composite decking can be a rewarding project that enhances your outdoor space and increases the value of your home. With the right preparation, tools, and knowledge, you can create a beautiful and functional deck. Whether you choose to DIY or hire a professional, following these steps will help ensure your decking is installed correctly and lasts for many years to come.

Cost Analysis

When considering building a new deck or replacing an existing one, understanding the cost implications is crucial for making an informed decision. Section 5 of our guide focuses on a detailed cost analysis that includes several key components which we will explore in this article: comparing upfront costs to long-term savings, breaking down the various cost factors, and comparing these costs across different decking materials like wood, composite, and PVC.

Upfront Costs vs. Long-Term Savings

One of the first considerations in any decking project is the initial investment. Upfront costs include the purchase price of the materials, labor costs for installation, and any additional fees related to permits or inspections. However, focusing solely on these initial costs can be misleading, as different materials vary not only in price but also in durability and maintenance needs.

For example, while traditional wood decks might have lower initial costs, they typically require regular maintenance like staining and sealing to prevent weather damage and decay. Composite decking, on the other hand, often comes with a higher price tag upfront but offers significant savings over time due to minimal maintenance requirements and a longer lifespan. Analyzing these aspects helps homeowners understand the real value of their investment over the years.

Breakdown of Cost Factors

Understanding the detailed cost breakdown is essential for budget planning. The main factors influencing the cost of a deck include:

Material Costs: The choice of decking material has the most significant impact on the overall cost. Prices can vary widely, with options like pressure-treated wood being more affordable, while exotic hardwoods or high-quality composites are at the higher end of the price spectrum.

Size of the Deck: Naturally, the larger the deck, the more materials and labor will be required, increasing the total cost. Planning the size according to your needs and budget is vital.

Installation Fees: Labor costs can differ based on the complexity of the design and the contractor’s expertise. Some materials are also more challenging to install than others, potentially increasing labor costs.

Comparison with Other Decking Materials

Finally, comparing costs across different decking materials is essential for making the right choice. Here’s a brief overview:

Wood: Generally the most cost-effective option upfront but requires regular maintenance that can add to the total cost over its lifespan. Susceptible to weathering and can have a shorter life if not properly maintained.

Composite: Higher initial costs but very low maintenance. Composites are designed to resist fading, staining, and mold, making them a durable option that can save money long-term.

PVC: Similar to composite in terms of low maintenance and durability but can be slightly more expensive. It is highly resistant to environmental elements and ideal for areas with severe weather conditions.

In conclusion, This section provides a comprehensive look at the financial aspects of decking materials, focusing on not just the immediate costs but also the long-term implications of each choice. By understanding these factors, homeowners can select the most cost-effective and suitable material for their decking needs, ensuring a wise investment that balances initial expenses with future savings.

Maintenance And Care

Composite decking is a popular choice for homeowners looking to enhance their outdoor living spaces with durability and low maintenance. However, proper care and maintenance are key to ensuring the longevity of your composite deck. This guide will provide you with expert tips on how to maintain your decking, effective cleaning techniques, and solutions to common issues like staining and fading.

How to Maintain Composite Decking to Ensure Longevity

Composite decking is designed to be low maintenance compared to traditional wood decking, but it still requires some care to keep it looking its best. Here are the steps you can follow:

1. Regular Cleaning: Sweep your deck regularly to prevent the accumulation of dirt and debris. This includes removing leaves, twigs, and other organic materials that can start to decompose on your deck.

2. Spot Checks: Regularly inspect your deck for any signs of damage such as cracks or splits. Early detection can prevent further deterioration.

3. Proper Drainage: Ensure that the area under your deck has good drainage and is free from standing water. This prevents mold and mildew growth, which are common with moisture retention.

4. Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Never use harsh chemical cleaners that can damage the composite material. Stick to recommended cleaning products.

Cleaning Tips and Recommended Products

Cleaning your composite decking can be simple if you follow these tips and use the right products:

1. Routine Cleaning: For general cleaning, a mixture of soap and water applied with a soft bristle brush is effective for removing dirt and grime.

2. Deep Cleaning: For tougher stains, consider using dedicated composite deck cleaners that are designed to be safe on your deck while providing powerful cleaning action.

3. Pressure Washing: You can use a pressure washer to clean your composite decking, but it should be done carefully. Use a fan tip blade and no more than 3100 psi to avoid damaging the deck surface.

Common Issues and Solutions

Even with the best care, composite decks can encounter issues like staining and fading. Here are some tips to handle these problems:

1. Staining: Immediate action is crucial. If a spill occurs, clean it up as soon as possible to prevent staining. For oil or grease stains, a degreasing agent may be necessary. Always test any cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area first.

2. Fading: While composite decking is built to resist fading, exposure to direct sunlight can cause some fading over time. Using a UV-resistant sealant can help reduce this.

3. Scratches: Minor scratches can sometimes be blended away using a wire brush stroked in the direction of the grain. Be cautious with this technique to avoid further damage.

Maintaining your composite decking involves regular cleaning, careful use of products, and prompt attention to any spills or damage. By following these tips, you can enjoy a beautiful, durable deck for many years. Remember, the key to longevity is consistent care and using the right techniques and products specifically designed for composite decking.

Potential Drawbacks

When considering a new decking material for your outdoor space, composite decking is a popular choice known for its durability and low maintenance requirements. However, like any material, it comes with its own set of potential drawbacks that you should consider before making a decision. This article delves into the potential downsides of composite decking, including initial costs and heat retention, and compares these factors with other decking materials such as wood and PVC.

Initial Cost

One of the most significant drawbacks of composite decking is its initial cost. Composite decking materials are generally more expensive upfront than traditional wood decking. This higher initial investment is due to the manufacturing process of composite decking, which involves combining wood fibers and plastics. The cost can vary depending on the brand, quality, and features of the composite material but expect to pay between 20% to 50% more for composite than for typical pressure-treated wood.

It’s important to consider this initial cost in the context of long-term value. Composite decking requires less maintenance over its lifespan, needing no sanding, staining, or sealing, which can lead to cost savings on maintenance supplies and labor. Moreover, composite decks tend to have a longer lifespan than wood decks, which can offset the initial higher cost over time.

Heat Retention

Another consideration is the heat retention of composite decking. Composite materials tend to absorb and retain more heat compared to natural wood, especially when exposed to direct sunlight. This can make the deck surface uncomfortably hot to walk on barefoot during sunny, warm days. The degree of heat retention varies among different colors and types of composite decking, with darker colors typically absorbing more heat than lighter ones.

When compared to other materials like PVC decking, composite decking generally retains more heat. PVC decking, although it can also get hot, does not retain as much heat as composites and cools down faster. This makes PVC a better option in areas with high sun exposure, though it lacks the natural look and feel that both wood and composite offer.

Comparison with Other Materials

When comparing composite decking to traditional wood decking, the advantages of composite can often outweigh its drawbacks. Wood decking may have a lower initial cost but requires significant maintenance including annual staining and sealing, and it is more susceptible to weathering, rot, and insect damage. Over time, the maintenance costs and effort can surpass the initial savings.

On the other hand, PVC decking, another alternative, offers low maintenance and good resistance to heat retention but at a cost similar to or higher than composite decking. It also lacks the natural wood-like appearance that many homeowners prefer, which is more authentically replicated in composite materials.

Choosing the right decking material involves weighing the initial costs against maintenance, longevity, and aesthetic preferences. While composite decking has its drawbacks, such as higher initial costs and greater heat retention, its durability, low maintenance needs, and long lifespan offer considerable benefits. By comparing these aspects with other materials like wood and PVC, homeowners can make an informed decision that best suits their budget and lifestyle needs.

FAQs: About What Is Composite Decking


In conclusion, this post has thoroughly explored the essential aspects of composite decking, emphasizing its benefits and suitability for different homeowners. Whether you’re seeking a low-maintenance solution or an upgrade to enhance the beauty and durability of your outdoor spaces, composite decking proves to be an excellent choice. It offers long-lasting quality and aesthetic appeal, making it a compelling option for anyone looking to transform their exterior living areas. We encourage you to consider composite decking as a practical, yet stylish solution for your home, guaranteeing satisfaction for years to come.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *