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Composite Decking Guide

Types of plastic composite decking

The choice of composite decking is the first step towards creating functional, resilient, and beautiful outdoor spaces. The best type of composite decking for your needs will vary depending on several factors including weather, expected wear and tear as well as aesthetic and style preferences.

While timber and plastic decking tended to be the go-to options in the past, both come with certain drawbacks. In the case of timber, lower durability and staining can reduce the lifespan of your deck. Plastic decking meanwhile, tends to be a less environmentally friendly option, creating significant amounts of non-degradable waste.

Composite deck boards are an alternative option that meets both challenges, providing a durable and stain-resistant choice, while the use of recycled plastic minimises environmental impact. Different types of decking offer different benefits.

What is wood-plastic composite?

Wood-plastic composite deck boards, particularly ones made with high-density polyethylene, have excellent resistance to rot and are frequently guaranteed for 25 years and more

A wood-plastic composite decking material looks and feels very similar to wood, partly due to the fact that it contains up to 55% wood flour. The plastic component means that the planks are more durable and splinter-resistant, while their durability makes them highly suitable for commercial decking solutions.

Additionally, the material makes for a significantly more slip-resistant decking solution than alternatives like PVC or bamboo.

What is bamboo-plastic composite?

Bamboo-plastic offers similar benefits to standard wood-plastic thanks to bamboo’s similar level of moisture resistance to timber. Additionally, bamboo can be a more affordable option than other types of wood.

This option may need more frequent cleaning, however, as bamboo can get slippery if there is any buildup of mould or mildew.

Other types of plastic, mixed with PVC, rice husk, chalk or filling agents

Other affordable composite decking alternatives include PVC, rice husk, chalk or other filling agents mixed with plastic polymers. These decking boards can make for a cheaper solution, but they typically have a shorter lifespan, with warranties extending up to 10 years.

In comparison to HDPE, PVC decking is stronger and denser but has a lesser ability to dampen and absorb shock, especially in cooler temperatures. This can make it a less than ideal solution for families with children or pets or those planning to use the deck for outdoor activities and sports on a regular basis.

Other resin and mineral-based composites

Resin and mineral solutions provide a great stain-, water- and weather-resistant alternative to wood. Lightweight and durable, these composite decking boards are an excellent solution for heavy-duty applications.

These boards, however, tend to be more expensive and may not lend the natural look and feel that wood-plastic composite decking can provide. Additionally, this option tends to be less bio-degradable and, therefore, less environmentally friendly than eco decking solutions like WPC using recycled plastic.

Metal decking

Metal decking, usually made of aluminium, tends to be used in industrial and construction settings for its durability and resistance to moisture and weather patterns. While it provides a heavy-duty option for some outdoor applications, it is not as visually appealing as wood or composite and tends to be a less popular choice in home settings.

PVC decking with WPC skin

PVC with WPC skin is intended as a cheaper, yet stylish alternative to complete wood-plastic composite decking. A fairly low-maintenance solution, the boards are usually cheaper and offer the added benefit of being lightweight. However, like all PVC options, can be prone to splitting with temperature Fluctuations.

Additionally, the WPC skin is susceptible to wear and tear, exposing the less-than-attractive plastic underneath, while the higher PVC content makes this option less than ideal for those seeking a sustainable, environmentally-friendly decking material.

Recycled plastic lumber

Recycled plastic wood is another affordable option for composite decking boards. It can be a good option if you’re trying to finish your project on a budget. Recycled plastic requires no painting and is resistant to rot and insects. These boards also make for a relatively green option, as the material is sourced from Like PVC, however, these hollow boards can be more prone to splitting than WPC decking alternatives. Additionally, the characteristic look of recycled plastic is easy to distinguish from real wood and wood-plastic composite and may not be the best solution for a style-conscious user.

One size does not fit all

The choice of decking solution will depend on the purpose, weather and environmental factors, maintenance requirements, style and sustainability concerns. Wood-plastic composite boards represent a great option that balances cost with style and durability.

But with so many composite decking materials on the market, the options now extend far beyond simple wood, including quality alternatives that perfectly mimic natural wood grain, but require only a fraction of the maintenance. Ultimately, the best choice will be one that strikes the right balance between cost, longevity, and design, allowing your family to enjoy a comfortable, well designed outdoor space for decades to come.

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