Modern homeowners in Australia are all choosing composite decking to jazz up their backyards. It’s an alternative to solid timber decking and is fast growing in popularity.
Until the beginning of the 1990s, timber was the way to go when building your decking out the back. In fact, a large portion of decks are still built using pressure-treated pine, cedar and other colourful alternatives.
However, a new product that didn’t require staining or maintenance was introduced into the building industry. Composite decking.
What is Composite Decking
Today composite decking is made up of an equal mix of recycled wood fibres and recycled plastic. This product is durable and impervious to rot it is has a much longer lifespan than wood decks. But it wasn’t always so. It took 30 years for the product to be developed to what it is today.
In 1992 when composite decking products first appeared they were marketed as ‘low maintenance’ and aimed at replacing timber.
Made from recycled plastic and shredded or ground wood they started to gain popularity. It offered simple benefits for both deck builders and the home improvement niche. During the several years following there was a massive increase in sales but it was also emerging that there were issues with the product causing dissatisfaction.
- Composite decking was not as stiff as wood which forced installers to build structures with greater support. This increased the cost for homeowners to avoid decking from sagging.
- Despite the claims of longevity and durability, the first generation of composites would deteriorate after being exposed to wet conditions over a long time.
- The fastening system of screws used initially would cause the material to mushroom around the head. This issue made it look beaten down. So to avoid this installation took longer which raised the prices again for homeowners.
At the turn of the century and the initial explosion of popularity, there were a number of manufacturers competing in the same space which led to the innovation and the second generation of composite decking.
Throughout the industry, we saw products with different densities and compositions including the complete removal of the wood component which heralded the arrival of PVC or plastic decking.
This second generation of decking rode the wave of popularity with approximately one of every four decks built in 2006, constructed with composite. The wide range of new products caused its own problems with contractors discovering that the decks were affected by the board composition and the fluctuating temperature.
The second generation, especially PVC decking had some shortcomings such as becoming brittle or sagging.
However, there were advances made in the technology that the whole industry benefitted from. The uses of plastic meant that the decking boards had limited discolouration and improved resistant to mould and mildew.
Manufacturers also developed methods of embossing or printing on the decking wood textures and designs to increase its visual appeal.
A happy medium was met in 2009 with the third generation of composite decking. This generation is considered environmentally friendly with plastic capping to provide the necessary protection and durability.
Capstock wraps the composite board in various ways. It allows for moisture transfer between the deck and the environment and also for the expansion of materials. The capping is the thin plastic layer which contains UV protection, the colour and protection allowing many composite decking manufacturers to boost increase fade, stain and scratch resistance.
The capping is the thin plastic layer which contains UV protection, the colour and protection allowing many composite decking manufacturers to boost increase fade, stain and scratch resistance.
One side (usually the bottom) is left uncapped to allow for the expansion during varying temperatures. This helps it adjust without compromising the integrity of the board. The capping on top of the board allows for the embossing of wood grain textures and colour variation that homeowners find physically and visually appealing.
The capping on top of the board allows for the embossing of wood grain textures and colour variation that homeowners find physically and visually appealing.
Why Home Owners Should Use Composite Decking
- Durabuilt across a variety of climates
- Low Maintenace
- Quality is consistent
- Scratch & stain resistance
For the long term, choosing composite decking is a worthwhile investment.
Tips Before You Buy Composite Decking
You can DIY your composite decking project however if you have little experience or want it done properly we recommend using professionals.
You can find qualified decking specialist in most cities in Australia by searching online. Simply get in touch with them and they will help work out the best solution for you.
When you speak to your contractor or supplier ask which generation of composite decking they carry. It is best to find someone that uses the latest generation to ensure that you benefit from 30 years of trial and error.
Decking is a great way to make the most of your backyard, and composite materials will ensure you can enjoy your deck rather than work on it.