Demand for Composite Decking on the Rise

The Pros and Cons of Composite Decking

By Mark J. Donovan

Composite decking continues to rise in popularity with homeowners. Though composite decking is significantly more expensive it offers many unique advantages to wood decking materials. It’s extremely durable, requires low maintenance, is eco-friendly, and is fade resistance. This said, composite decking is not the panacea that many composite decking manufacturers suggested early on with the introduction of this decking material. Many lawsuits alleging misrepresentation of the product have been filed over the years. Consequently do your upfront homework when planning a deck.

Composite decking is constructed from a blend of wood and plastic. As a result, it is a very durable product that stands up well, if manufactured properly, to the elements.

Many lawsuits, however, were filed against composite decking manufacturers in the past due to their products being improperly manufactured. The improper manufacturing of the composite decking material led to the growth of mold in the product and durability/strength issues.

Decks that used these types of composite decking products grew impossible to remove mold, and experienced cracking, and sagging decking boards. In regards to the mold growth, the mold would form in the cellulose wood fibers and become trapped in-between the plastic areas making it impossible to remove.

Another issue with composite decking is the amount of maintenance required. They are not maintenance free and will scratch over time. They will need cleaning periodically a few times a year. Certain decking cleaners can lead to removing the finish and leave the composite decking surface looking faded and bleached out.

 Composite decking boards being installed on this deck.

Consequently it is important to use cleaners that are recommended by the specific composite decking manufacturer to prevent a faded surface.

These issues aside, composite decking does continue to rise in popularity over standard wood decking products. Manufactured properly it holds up extremely well to the elements, is rot and insect resistant, requires no painting or staining, and is highly stable. There is little expansion or contraction with composite decking. Composite decking manufacturers have also improved the quality of their products and many of the aforementioned issues have been resolved with their newer products.

However, keep in mind you get what you pay for. It is important to buy high quality composite decking material to ensure a long lasting and beautiful deck. This said, you’ll pay dearly for it. Expect to pay 2 to 3 times as much for good quality composite decking, compared to pressure treated wood decking.

In regards to constructing a deck with composite decking the same tools are used. The only difference really recommend is to use a skill saw blade with a higher teeth count per inch to ensure clean and smooth cuts. The deck boards themselves should also be fastened down with either screws or special deck fasteners, rather than with nails.

So if a new deck is in your plans, or you’re simply considering resurfacing your existing deck with a different decking board material, make sure to do your upfront homework carefully when evaluating decking options.

Deck Installation Bid Sheet

Composite decking comes in a variety of colors, wood textures, quality levels, and pricing.  Not everyone may be right for your home or budget. Also, understand up front what the maintenance requirements are and what the product will be expected to look like in 5 years. In many cases it may not look like “new” in five years, however it may still provide an appealing look.

For help on building a deck, see’s Deck Installation Bid Sheet. The Deck Installation Bid Sheet will teach your how to hire the right deck contractor, and help to ensure that your deck project is completed on time and budget.

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