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What You Should Know About Composite Decking Before You Buy

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

In the past, patio decks used to be made primarily of wood such as cedar, but now more and more new deck trim materials are being used. These materials have a collective name called “composite materials” and composite decking is now so popular that almost all home improvement stores have plenty of it. You may also be able to find matching fences, railings, and other accessories.

Better composite decking products offer more options for homeowners. Whether they want to build the deck themselves or hire a professional to do so. Additionally, in some cases, composite decking boards may be the better decking option.

If you want to learn more about composite decking, whether you want to build a new deck or replace an old one, read this article.

What Is Composite Decking?

Polyethylene plastic is mixed with wood fibers to make composite decking boards. these boards are often printed with a wood grain pattern to make them look like real wood. You can cut composite decking boards just like wood.

Modern composite decking is treated with UV blockers and borate conditioners to prevent fading, moisture, and mold. There is also an even more resistant capped composite decking, which is covered with a layer of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to provide complete protection from the elements.

Composite decking can be fully solid or hollow. Hollow composite decking boards save on material costs and make the boards lighter. Some boards have grooves that allow them to be secured to the deck joists with concealed fasteners.


Advantages of Using Composite Decking

Since composite decking boards are made of plastic, you don’t have to worry about it warping, kinking, splitting, or developing other defects. On top of that, you don’t have to treat it for termites or carpenter ants because these bugs won’t harm it. As a building material, it also offers several other advantages:

  • Low maintenance. Composite decking doesn’t need to be stained or refinished. Yes, you should wash it every once in a while using soapy water to keep it looking good.
  • Durable. Composite decking manufacturers go to great lengths to ensure that their products are more durable than wood. Composite decking can last up to thirty years with little to no problems. Pressure-treated wood decking, on the other hand, may last up to 15 years if you’re lucky.
  • Hidden Fasteners. Composite decking is carefully designed to work with hidden fasteners. These fasteners not only hold the composite decking in place at a very high level but also give you a complete and flawless look at the deck.

Disadvantages of Using Composite Decking

Even though composite decking is made from recycled materials, it is not always a green building product. Since they are made of plastic, old composite decking cannot be recycled and ends up in landfills where it slowly decomposes. On top of that, there are a few other issues with composite decking that are worth noting:

  • High cost. Although lumber prices have been rising in recent years, composite decking still costs 15 to 20 percent more than pressure-treated pine, cedar, or redwood.
  • It gets hot. On sunny days, composite decking boards can become too hot to stand. This is because they absorb more heat from sunlight than wood.
  • Cannot be stained. Composite decking has excellent water and stain resistance. So you can’t paint it to change the look of the deck.
  • Plastic feel. Manufacturers can add color and texture to composite decking materials, but they still can’t make them look exactly like wood.

Types of Composite Decking

There are many different types of composite decking boards on the market today. and there are many well-known brands of composite decking. These brands include Trex, COOWIN, Fiberon, MoistureShield, Cali Bamboo, Duralife, Lumberock, Envision, and TimberTech. each manufacturer tries to put their own unique spin on the product. For example, COOWIN has 3D wood grain composite decking surfaces.

When people are looking for composite decking, they have to make these either/or choices:

  • Covered or uncovered top. The first generation of composite decking did not have the protective polyvinyl chloride coating that is now common. These original boards were susceptible to mold and moisture. This problem can mostly be solved by adding a cover, so many manufacturers now offer capped composite decking.
  • With or without grooves. Smooth-edged composite decking looks more like wood, but they need to be fastened with face nails or screws. Notched decking, on the other hand, can be secured with concealed fasteners. Some planks have tongue and groove holes that allow them to be put together to create a solid surface like hardwood flooring.
  • Solid or hollow. Hollow composite decking is easier to move around and doesn’t require as sturdy a base. Solid composite decking is better suited for high-traffic areas.

How to Use Composite Decking

To install composite decking, use pressure-treated wood for the frame. composite decking is easy to install and cut. You can use a circular saw to cut the boards to the proper length, just as you would a plank of wood. If you want to attach the boards with face nails or screws, they are just as easy to drive into the composite decking material as the boards.

Hidden fasteners are a great new feature that makes composite decking installation easier. You can fasten them to the joists and then clip them into the grooves next to the planks, leaving some space between them. This means you don’t have to adjust the spacing yourself. This can save a lot of time when laying large decks.

Things You Should Know Before Buying Composite Decking

Not All Synthetic Decking Is “Composite”

PVS and plastics (HDPE, or High Density Polyethylene) are older types of synthetic decking materials that are now considered fairly old-fashioned and are not commonly used. True composite decking materials are made of plastic mixed with wood fiber.


Not All Building Codes Allow Composite Decking

Your city’s building code may not allow composite decking to be used to build a deck, or it may restrict which material can be used. For example, it may allow the use of composite decking material on the top of a deck, but not on steps or railings. Be sure to check with the building inspector in your area to see which materials can be used to build a deck.

Composite decking is becoming a more common material for decks, but you should always verify this. Always be very careful if using composite decking materials for any type of support construction. There are a number of hybrid types of 2x framing lumber for sale in many places these days, but there are not many places that allow it to be used for structural or load-bearing purposes.

Composite Decking Is Not Just for Building Decks

When Composite decking was first produced, it was just decorative boards that were installed on decks. Now, most manufacturers produce a wide variety of products such as post caps, latticework, fascia boards, stair treads, and deck railings. Composite decking boards are typically available in lengths of 12, 16, and 20 feet.

As mentioned earlier, check your local building codes before using composite decking materials for steps or stairs.


Composite Decking is More Expensive

High-quality composite decking usually costs more than traditional wood decking. Brands like Trex cost between $3 and $7 per square foot. However, there is a difference between expensive and less expensive composite decking in terms of style, color, and construction. Try to select and purchase a well-known brand of composite decking.

Higher-quality Products Look more Like Wood

In terms of texture, higher quality (and more expensive) composite decking products look more like wood. Some composite decking boards even come in different shades and patterns so that adjacent boards will not have the exact same color and design. Because of this, some builders are now opting for composite decking materials.

However, it is important to note that textured composite decking gets dirty very quickly. It can be difficult to clean even with strong cleaners. In addition, if regular cleaning is not carried out, composite decking boards can become soiled with mold and algae, especially in damp and dark areas.


Composite Material Slips When Exposed to Moisture

Many times, smooth composite decking without wood grain or other textures will slip when wet. When laying composite decking material on a pool deck or stair steps, you should choose boards with a wood grain.

Concealed Fasteners May be Used

Fastening composite decking boards is basically the same as fastening wood boards. You can use decking screws or nails to drive through the surface of the boards and nail into the joists underneath. On the other hand, you can use hidden fasteners to secure composite decking for a neater appearance.

Pay Attention to Attachments

Some people don’t realize how much different trim pieces and other add-ons can raise the price of composite decking. Most composite decking systems have a range of skirting, post caps, balustrade rails and posts, and fascia boards that add a lot to the cost. These will also be included if you choose to use concealed fasteners.

Of course, you can also lay the top decking with composite decking only and install the railings and other parts with cedar or other types of wood.

composite decking decorative|installing composite decking|WPC outdoor flooring

Consider Special Ordering

If you take a stroll through a big box building center near you, you’ll find that most centers now stock two or three types of composite decking. These are usually in neutral colors like gray, beige or brown.

But if you go to a specialty help desk or design center, you’ll find plenty of other options. Through the years, there are now many companies that manufacture composite decking products. Take your time to choose the color and texture you really want.


When you know this information before you buy composite decking, you can better choose the right decking material. If you still have questions about composite decking, please contact us. COOWIN has a professional service team to serve you and can also provide you with free samples of composite decking.

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