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What is…Composite decking?

Up until a few years ago the traditional choice for a new deck would have been a natural timber using  hardwoods such as Balhau, Iroko or Oak or one of the cheaper softwoods such as pine or cedar. Whilst  the hardwoods do have greater resistance to decay and insect damage due to their natural oils which  give them a higher level of protection, they are not maintenance free and do have a few drawbacks  common to using any natural wood product in terms of durability and aging. However, clients today  are looking for increased value from their investment in a new deck and composite decking has a few  advantages over traditional timber.

Composite decking is generally lower maintenance as it doesn’t require staining or oiling and if selecting one of the wood-free brands such as Millboard which uses polyurethane, it also has excellent protection against rot as there is no wood content. The lack of wood content also means they won’t warp or split which can be a problem with wooden decks over time. It’s also possible to install the base framework using composites which have a longer shelf life than timber frames and thus increase the lifespan of the whole deck.

With a natural timber deck you do have the advantage of enjoying the wood’s characteristic colour but you do have to bear in mind that the decking boards when first installed will gradually fade in sunlight due to the effects of UV unless chemically treated unlike composites which tend to hold their colour better without treatment. This means selecting the right colour (and texture) of your composite deck is crucial at the start as it can’t be changed at a later date unlike natural timber.

Choosing the right colour and texture finish will very much depend on other elements in the garden such as adjacent paving or the home’s exterior wall colours where contrast can be used for pleasing effect. As with paved surfaces, there’s a range of colours and textures to choose from. Some give a modern, elegant appearance whilst others have been moulded from actual oak timbers to look like real wood giving them a rougher, more organic appearance.

One of the common questions we get asked about decking is, “Does it get slippery?” Thankfully this is where composites have an advantage as their superior slip resistance means they can be safer in wet weather, especially important if the decking has steps as part of its design. Choosing a wood-free composite deck also reduces the amount of potential algal growth which can make decks slippery and in need of greater maintenance.

There are so many applications for a composite deck and the design possibilities are endless. If you’d like to see the ways composite decking can be used in your garden, give us a call today and we’ll show you some of the many options available