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Composite Decking Guide

Choosing the best type of composite for you

Choosing the right composite for you is the most important decision to make after deciding that composite is the ideal material for your project– whether it be cladding or decking. The crucial thing to understand is that the key to a successful composite product is to buy from a quality and reputable supplier brand with a published UK based warranty. Well known auction sites are awash with apparent composite firms who promise the cheapest prices on the internet. Though generally, in the world of wood-composite if something is too good to be true then it usually is. Composite is a substantial building material and corners cannot be cut during its manufacture and supply so building up a relationship with a reputable dealer should be the top of any homeowners list. The quality of the material can vary dramatically from brand to brand, but first and foremost, find a supplier that you trust and ideally one that has both experience in the market and a firm history of strong customer reviews and recommendations before moving onto other decisions like the type of composite you’re looking for.

Composite decking is not an inexpensive purchase, but making the correct decision from the outset in terms of the retailer and the type of composite can mean that it’s ultimately the correct long term investment that will pay back its owner in terms of longevity, durability and quality. So let’s start with whether to opt for capped or uncapped decking. It’s usually the first question that a composite firm will quiz you on when trying to establish which type of material is best for you. Standard uncapped decking is certainly more cost effective but consider looking into the longer term benefits of capped composite, particularly for decking.

The capping provides increased durability and resistance to scratches, which can be commonplace with timber alternatives. It also helps to avoid general wear and tear and although more expensive than uncapped, it’s likely to last longer. The extra capping on the composite will also provide useful UV inhibitors and become more durable to sunlight – something that homeowners looking to build decks in direct sunlight will want to consider.

The capping is engineered to weather better and offer more protection against fading that isn’t matched by uncapped alternatives, and certainly not timber. Though both capped and uncapped composites fare much better than timber in terms of maintenance, it can be beneficial to look at both with a view to how much work you’ll willing to dedicate to looking after your new boards. Composites don’t need to be treated in the same way as timber, so no painting and no staining, but uncapped composites can stain more easily than capped. So if you’re likely to use your composite boards on decking projects that will involve high footfall – for example, BBQ areas or areas used for eating and drinking – then it’s worth understanding that uncapped composites can and will stain more easily. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a worry to those looking for the uncapped product (should budget be a consideration) as stains can be removed with the use of certain products. For example, Abozorbit is specially designed to remove greases and oil stains from uncapped composite, particularly those caused by cooking fats and stains, tanning oil and sauces.

So ultimately capped composites offer maximum protection again these, though those on a budget it may be worth considering uncapped alternatives with the acceptance that costs may be incurred on cleaning and maintenance from time to time. Either way, both forms of composite requires far less maintenance than timber alternatives.

For those without such budgetary restraints, it’s recommended that capped composites will provide the increased quality, durability and peace of mind. As well as protecting against stains and possessing increased UV resistance they are also unparalleled in terms of aesthetics.

While capped decking boards will provide a more uniformed and consistent finish than most timbers they will initially appear darker having been laid before gradually becoming light several months after installing. However, higher end capped composite decking boards will provide a richer level of contrast in colour and a more eye-catching dual-tone appearance that will offer a level of variation between the boards. Opting for capped composite decking will in the short term be more expensive, but ultimately offers the key to a long lasting deck that will comfortably stand up to all manner of get togethers and parties as well as the wear and tear of family life.

In terms of the overall quality of varying composite products, it’s important for consumers to look out for a few things that will point towards the legitimacy of a certain product of company – or on the flip-side, start the alarm bells ringing. So ask yourself, does the composite decking boards that you’re interested have thicker walls? Anything less than 5mm is quite simply suggestive of poor quality and should be avoided. Is the company offering a warranty on their composite product and how long does that warranty last? Firms offering a solid warranty are most likely trusting of their product and its lifespan. Is the company offering only private sales on auction sites or online market places, or it is a trusted retailer whose products are favoured by numerous merchants and retailers in the area, or indeed nationwide? Does the company publish thorough technical documentation or are they only offering basic data on dimensions, size and price? These are the crucial considerations that should always be prioritised when considering the best type of composite for you. Remember, the cheapest deal is not always the best deal and often leads to a poorer quality product. Invest in strong reputations and proven quality and you’ll reap the long term rewards.

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