How Long Should a Composite Decking Last?

Henry A
Decking lifespan

Building an outdoor plastic decking is a big investment. Because of this, you’ll want your decking to last as long as possible. You’ll want to select a decking that can last for decades. For this, composite decking is a solid choice. But how long does composite decking last? What can shorten its lifespan? And how can you maintain your decking at top quality?

How Long Should a Decking Last?

A composite decking should last at least as long as its warranty is valid. For most manufacturers, the warranty is 25 to 30 years. So a composite decking should last around 25 to 30 years. Aside from that, many suppliers claim that their products can even last for 30 to 50 years. Many have backed this claim, including homeowners and third-party testing.

On the other hand, the traditional wooden decking only last for 10 to 15 years. It’s significantly short-lived compared to composite decking. For this reason, many choose composites as their material of choice, despite its higher initial cost.

Things That Can Shorten a Composite Decking’s Lifespan

Composite materials are marketed as very durable and low-maintenance. They are resistant to most problems that you can otherwise encounter with wooden decking. However, like many other materials, composite can deteriorate in quality when not taken care of. Despite what most people think, you will need to maintain your decking to preserve its quality. Certain issues with the decking can cause their lifespan to become shorter. Here are some of them.

Mold Growth – Because most composites are capped, they are extremely resistant to mould growth. There is very little chance that mould can grow on the decking. However, they can grow from other external sources. For instance, piles of leaves, pollen, debris, and dirt are common breeding grounds for moss and fungi. When left alone, mould can grow on them. Over time, mould will slowly spread onto your decking. While moulds may not ruin your composite decking as fast as wooden decking, they will surely stain your decking.

Scratches – Another common problem that can significantly shorten a composite decking’s lifespan are scratched and grazes. While composites are durable materials, it does not mean they are impervious to any damage. Why are nicks and scratches detrimental to composite decking? When the surface of the boards is scratched, the protective capping will peel off. If that happens, your decking will be more susceptible to damage, such as moisture and mould growth.

Improper Decking Cleaning – Composite decking is very easy to clean. But you will still need to be careful when maintaining it. For instance, using sharp objects, such as ice scrapers, metal shovels when removing snow on your decking can scratch your decking. Power washing, if not done correctly, can also ruin your decking. Certain cleaning products are also damaging to decking such as chlorine bleach.

How to Prolong Your Decking’s Life

how long does composite decking last?

If there are things that can shorten the life of your decking, there are also effective ways to lengthen it. By doing so, you can expect your decking to last as long as it should be, maybe even longer. Here are a few practical tips on how to do it.

  1. Regular Cleaning Schedule – Being low-maintenance doesn’t mean composite decking don’t need any cleaning. To preserve its quality, you will need to clean it properly and regularly. You can sweep the decking every time you see dirt and debris build-up. You will also need to schedule a thorough clean at least twice or three times a year. This includes cleaning and scrubbing the decking with a soft-bristle brush.
  2. Do not Use Sharp Objects – When cleaning your decking, never use any sharp object that can scratch your decking. Do not use metal shovels and metal brushes. For removing ice, use calcium-chloride based ice melt or rock salts. You can also make do with a plastic shovel. But it should be done gently. For cleaning the decking, only use a soft-bristle brush. If you’ll be using a power washer, make sure that it’s on the prescribed settings. You can check whether your decking can handle the pressure by consulting the instructions from the manufacturers. Use a wide tip to minimize the damage.
  3. Avoid Placing Heavy Furniture – Avoid using heavy furniture with metal footings. These can graze your decking. If you need to use them, consider using a rug or other means to protect the surface of your decking.
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