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Disadvantages of Composite Decking

Composite decking has many beneficial attributes that make it a popular choice amongst homeowners across the country. However, as with any home investment, it is imperative to consider the disadvantages of composite material before installing your composite decking.

To learn about the many benefits of composite decking, read our article on the pros of installing composites.

Here we look at the disadvantages to assist you in deciding whether composite decking is the right decking material for your project:

Composites are more expensive initially.

One of the many reasons why customers often doubt the use of composite decking is due to its significantly higher initial price range. To compare, 15-square-meter wooden decking boards will only cost around £312 to £975 depending on the quality, whereas composite will cost about £559 to £1200 for the same area.

However, compared to other synthetic decking, the price is in a similar price range. Naturally, these are only rough estimates, and you may find cheaper composites. You will also want to check the brand and quality before buying. 

Not Designed to Be Painted 

Composites may not be the best for you if you love redecorating and repainting decking. Unlike wood, painting composite decking can do more harm than good. The truth is that many composite manufacturers advise against painting their products.

One reason is that most paint won’t adhere to the surface of most composite boards. For the paint to stick, you would need to sand the boards.

Doing so, however, will damage the surface texture, which removes all its protection from moisture. If you want to paint your decking, you are best off choosing wooden decking.

Composite Decking May Get Hot 

Because composites have plastic fibres, they can get hotter faster than wooden decking. For this reason, you may want to prepare decking cooling methods if you prefer composites. You can use rugs, carpets, shades, umbrellas, and fans to cool your decking.

Compared to pure plastic or PVC decking, however, composites are much more heat-resistant. PVC decking tends to warp due to high temperatures, whereas composite decking retains its shape better.

Composites May Become Slippery 

As with other types of synthetic decking, composite decking can be slippery. However, you can opt to use textured boards for added friction. You can also install non-slip decking strips to make it safer.

While resistant to mould, fungi can grow on dirt and debris from your decking. These, too, can make any decking more slippery, whether it’s plastic, wood, or composite.

Sold Incorrectly

Composite decking has grown at high rates over the last three years. This has seen a huge spike in production, providers, and suppliers due to this growth. As composite decking is still relatively new, this means misunderstandings and false marketing of the product are seen more often than we would like.

Some suppliers sell composite decking as a “no-maintenance and no-fading” solution, which is untrue.

All composite decking needs to be maintained, and all composite decking fades. The key point to mention is which level of maintenance is required and which level of fading will occur.

There are different types and generations of composite decking, and they all perform differently and are priced differently depending on which composite you pick for your project.

Easily Scratched Surface 

Another problem with composite decking is that it can scratch. Kid toys, furniture, BBQ grills, and even your pet nails can all leave marks on your composite deck. When marks appear on your decking boards, fixing them might be difficult.

In some cases, you can’t fix the scratches unless you replace the decking with a new one. Composite decking is not like wood, where you can sand the surface.

Many manufacturers have improved production techniques and methods during production to effectively improve the scratch resistance of composite decking boards. Remember, scratch-resistant is not scratch-proof.

Stains

Grease or oil can easily stain the surface of a composite board. If you leave stains on the decking for a long time, the stains can be difficult to clean. Most homeowners see this as stressful and consider it a problem associated with composite decking. So, when you notice any stains on your composite decking, clean it immediately.

The latest 2nd generation of composite decking boards comes with a capping or shield built around the entire decking board. The shielding provides improved protection against colour fading from the sun and stains from grease, oil, and other liquids.

Mould and Mildew

Although the composite board is said to be resistant to mould, it is still susceptible to mould and mildew. If you leave dead leaves on your deck for too long without sweeping them, moisture will build up under the leaves. It will, in turn, cause mould and mildew to start growing on your deck surface. Removing the mould can be a difficult task. Mould growth on composite decking is among the problems with composite decking.

In fairness to composite decking, this issue will happen mainly on uncapped boards and wood decking does experience similar problems with mould and mildew.

Warping of the Boards

A composite decking board cannot warp like wood if you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines during installation. But if you don’t space the decking properly while installing it, the decking board will warp in highly temperature.

Composite decking boards require a space of 3mm side to side and 6mm end to end between the decking boards during installation to prevent the board from being damaged. If you don’t leave a gap between the decking boards, they can expand and shift from their initial position.

When the boards are tightly closed to one another, it can cause the decking to push against each other and cause warping or splits.

Conclusion

Composite decking is an ideal choice for your exterior space, as it has many beneficial attributes that will ensure you get the most out of your decking over time. Although composite decking may have a higher upfront cost than other materials, such as wood, it is an investment as it will ensure you don’t pay more over time through maintenance or repairs.

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