10 reasons why designers opt for composite decking over traditional timber
Summer is upon us and we Brits, as always, are desperate to get outside in the garden. Our outdoor spaces are the opportunity to rid the memories of a cold and miserable winter, and we love a good garden, terrace, beer garden or outdoor space. We’d be fools not to, the United Kingdom is officially obsessed with sunshine. We also love a decking area (thanks Ground Force!). Honestly, our love of decking dates back hundreds of years, just think of the beautifully elegant, but essential walkways of riverboats and grand ships and the fine-looking verandas of grand colonial homes in South Africa and America.
In this current day and age, decking forms an essential feature to UK home landscaping, providing a way to connect the outdoors to the indoors and extend living areas. This modern way of living has led designers, landscapers and proud homeowners to source decking materials beyond the traditional wood. In fact, they are looking to composite decking instead. Here are ten reasons why.
1. Low maintenance
The last thing we want to do with our limited days of sunshine is power wash, re-stain and quickly fix up any loose decking boards or screws. Never mind waiting for the decking to dry. What’s more, all of this has to be done before we can even get the BBQ going. Let’s face it; the rain will be with us before we put the first burger on the coals. That is why composite decking is a great option for busy homeowners. Once installed, there is no need to paint, stain or seal the decking area. For those of us that don’t have the time to complete a winter and spring maintenance, this is ideal.
According to an article in the New York Times: “Pretty much any wooden deck is going to look good when it is first built. But a lot happens in the first five years… [that’s when] the maintenance starts. Paint chips and fades, wood warps, and mold and mildew discolour the boards.” (Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/11/your-money/upgrading-a-deck-to-avoid-headaches-and-bump-up-home-value.html?_r=0) Composite decking takes away the annual maintenance headache, simply requiring a power wash to remove dirt maybe once of twice a year. Or maybe to wash away the remnants of a burger and the ketchup from yesterday’s barbecue. Decks.com agree: “The main benefit of low maintenance decking is that you will never have to stain, seal or paint the decking like wood materials. Most higher quality synthetic decking materials are sold with a warranty against splitting, cracking, rotting and insect damage.” (Source: http://www.decks.com/how-to/10/composite-decking-material-review)
2. Composite decking does not rot, warp or splinter
The composite material used for the decking panels is not a living, breathing product like wood, nor does it need protection against splitting, cracking and rotting. Thanks to the decking material, the planks will not warp when exposed to the sun, and the high quality products are less likely to fade, stain and breed mould and mildew. In fact, some higher end options, such as our FORMA® COMPOSITE DECKING BOARD, provide UV and stain protection to further prolong the product by incorporating a durable polymer outer shell that encapsulates the board. This forms an impermeable layer to add further protection from scratching, staining and fading. Plus the colour of your composite decking will remain in place throughout its lifetime.
3. Easy installation systems with invisible fixings
The design savvy amongst us will dislike an exposed screw fixing. The clumsy ones amongst us will too. This is definitely a feature that you cannot avoid with wood decking. That’s why another benefit of composite decking is the easy installation systems with invisible fixings. The FORMA® COMPOSITE DECKING BOARD and CLARITY® COMPOSITE DECKING BOARD both use T-clip fixing systems. These systems are purposefully engineered for both quick and easy installation whilst maintaining a high quality finish. The T shaped clips space boards evenly allowing for expansion and contraction with temperature fluctuation.
The Top Deck website says of invisible installation systems: “There is no pre-drilling required, and to go with that, it often only needs one 'screw' per station as opposed to the two if screwing through the boards. This is a huge time saving. An added bonus, is the fact that the deck will have no visible screws - just an uninterrupted surface.” (Source: https://www.thetopdeck.co.uk/plastic-composite/composite-decking-boards/fastening-and-fixing-composite-decking-boards.html)
4. Natural looking without any of the drawbacks of timber
Wooden decking originally used softwoods, but as these declined in availability, the hardwood alternatives took over. Such woods are generally found only in the tropical forests and thus carry strong environmental concerns over usage and production. Design advancements in composite decking over recent years now offer a range of natural wood colours and textures that simulate wood finishes. There are even composite designs that emulate exotic woods which are no longer available on the natural wood market.
The most common wood decking, which is pine, requires extensive chemical treatments and or pressure treatment to ensure a level of durability is achieved for the seasonal climatic changes. In the blog, ‘What are the advantages and disadvantages of pressure-treated wood?’ the chemical treatment was deemed a disadvantage: “Because this type of decking is treated with chemicals for protection, it can be hazardous when not handled correctly. If the wood is burned, trimmed, or cut, it can release harmful toxins into the air.” “If you are disposing of this type of wood, you should treat it as a potentially hazardous material and bring it to a recycling centre that handles this type of product, or hire a professional who knows how to properly dispose of it.” (Source: http://www.designbuildersmd.com/blog/what-are-the-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-pressure-treated-wood-decks)
5. Made from 95% ethically sourced materials
High quality ranges of composite decking, such as the CLARITY® COMPOSITE DECKING BOARD and the FORMA® COMPOSITE DECKING BOARD are manufactured from recycled materials. These are made up from recycled high-density polyethylene plastic and reclaimed wood fibers.
“The plastic part is made from household items you return to the recycling bin. Milk cartons, shower gel bottles and plastic bags, for example, are all used to form the content within composite decking. The wood section is essentially the fine remnants of wood collected from factory floors of many wood manufacturers.” As such, the materials used in the manufacturing process are 95% ethically sourced. This makes the process of formation almost waste free. “Not bad for tonnes of plastic and wood that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill somewhere.” (Source: http://www.edecks.co.uk/blog/index.php/decking-advice/question-time-composite-wood-decking/)
6. Long life span
Most leading manufacturers of composite decking should offer an extensive warranty on the decking boards. Expect at least 20 years. As such, composite decking carries a much longer lifespan than its wooden competitor, as traditional wood decking will only last up to 10 years, maybe a little longer if really looked after.
7. Great for family life
Splinters, loose screws and wet and slippery surfaces do not suit families with young children, or for adults even. Composite decking has been carefully designed to be slip resistant, which is ideal for when that sudden rain shower spoils that family gathering and you all have to run for cover.
Melbourne based St Kilda Decking gives 8 strong reasons why composite decking is great for a family garden: 1. Gives a high aesthetic appeal in harmony with your garden and nature 2. Creates warmth and ambience for late summer evenings 3. Conceals unsightly necessities such as inspection covers and drains 4. Can easily be modified or extended 5. Reduces excavation and ground work preparation 6. Provides a comfortable surface for walking, sitting or even lying on 7. Elevated or split level decking can be created on level ground to create new dimensions to your space, giving it a unique look 8. Decking means more BBQ’s with family and friends!” (Source: http://deckingandlandscaping.com.au/decking-st-kilda/)
8. Improves your house value
Home tweaking your property exterior can be a cost effective way to not only improve curb appeal, but also add a couple of extra pounds to the value of your home. Installing composite decking is a relatively quick and simple way to do this. An article in the New York Times suggested that: “…some in the decking business say a well-crafted deck can add about 80 percent of its cost to the resale value of your home.” (Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/11/your-money/upgrading-a-deck-to-avoid-headaches-and-bump-up-home-value.html?_r=0)
In Australia, Melborne landscaping business, Decking St Kilda says: “Whatever the reasons are, investing in good quality outdoor area is one of the most attractive additions that can be made to a home. In fact, real estates agents often value homes which have decking and landscaping up to 15% more than homes without these features.” (Source: http://deckingandlandscaping.com.au/decking-st-kilda/)
So what about the UK? Jonathan Haward from County Homesearch said a nice garden would always attract interest and could add up to 20% to a home's value. In the same Telegraph article, Peter Rollings, the chief executive of London estate agents Marsh & Parsons agreed that a garden that is landscaped can add value and a wow factor to a house. However, maintenance can be an issue and a low-maintenance patio is desirable." (Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/insurance/buildingsandcontent/10058256/How-garden-improvements-can-boost-the-value-of-your-property.html)
9. Creates a Bold Statement
Top designers and landscapers are using composite decking to create a big impact on outdoor spaces, whether that is for domestic or commercial use. Not only does composite decking create a big impact, but it will also tie into the outside aesthetics of a building, whether a client wants the deck planks to complement coloured window frames, create a seamless indoor/outdoor flow, or ensure that the decking blends in with the natural surroundings.
A contemporary trend for households is the coloured vinyl window frames, especially in shades of grey and black. In a 5 ways to upgrade windows in 2017 blog one trend highlighted was colour: “Say goodbye to ivory and eggshell; colour is making a splash this year! Vinyl frames are coming in all shades ranging from nature-inspired greens and browns to bright blues and reds. Adding colour to your window frames is an easy way to update both the inside and outside look of your home.” (Source: http://www.completewindows.ca/5-top-window-trends-2017/)
New lines of composite decking have taken this trend on board, creating a fantastic range of ‘deck fashion’ that compliment most colour ways. Yet there is also an incredible variety of natural looking composite decking board colours to choose from, including tones that imitate realistic exotic hardwood grain patterns such as oak, birch and ash. These often complement stark white exteriors and lush green foliage.
Then there is the decking design itself. Without having to paint every individual wooden decking plank, composite decking allows you to pick complimenting colourways that can create a tremendous design feature. There are so many different design patterns too, from traditional horizontal and diagonal, to picture framing, herringbone, patchwork, and diamond insets. Composite decking planks can also be used to create seating areas and hot tub surrounds.
10. Wise long term investment
In these situations it is best to be honest. Composite decking does cost more than traditional wood decking to buy. It is also advised that you use a specialist landscaping team who can fit your decking to a high standard and ensure your product guarantees are in place. But it is essential to think of the long term investment. The 20 years minimum warranty of composite decking is a very appealing feature, especially as five to seven years of untreated wooden decking can rot, warp or splinter.
The New York Times Article backs up the wise long term investment theory: “Deck builders said the added cost of the composite options would be made up in five to 10 years, largely in reduced upkeep expenses.” (Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/11/your-money/upgrading-a-deck-to-avoid-headaches-and-bump-up-home-value.html?_r=0)
So, those are 10 good reasons why composite decking boards have become a very popular alternative to wood decking and patios for designers. If you are personally looking for a low maintenance, long lasting, easy to install, ethically produced, family friendly, natural looking, bold and wise long term investment, then we suggest that composite decking is for you.