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Ultimate Composite Decking Questions Answered


We’ve trolled the internet and found the most common FAQs that people ask about Composite Decking. Find below the answers to questions people regularly ask about.

What is composite decking

Composite decking (link) is the fastest growing decking solution on the market today. It offers an authentic wood appearance and feel without the drawbacks of regular maintenance that comes with timber or wooden decking solution.

Composite decking is a man-made decking board made up of 60% wood fibres, 30% HPE (high-density polyethylene) & 10%  additives (bonding agents). The wood fibres can be sawdust or wood chips and all HPE plastics used in the manufacturing process are made up of recycled plastic materials, wasteland plastic bags and much more, therefore helping to reduce waste and improve the environment.

The wood fibres, plastics and bonding agents are mixed and heated to be made into board length shapes. The boards are further pressed with a wood grain onto the surface and then cooled.

After the bonding and shaping process depending on the manufacturing quality required, each individual board is brushed and treated.  The end result is the creation of a wood plastic composite decking board that looks and feels like authentic wood without the drawbacks  (link product platinum) of regular maintenance, warping, splinters, cracking. 2nd generation wood plastic composite decking boards are further resistant to staining and fading.

Is composite decking non-slip?

This is one of the most asked question at the point of sale or during research. This is because timber decking becomes extremely slippy in the wet or due to the build-up of mould and mildew.

Composite decking is slip resistant and scores very high on friction tests as performed and reported by Intertek and SGS. Composite decking is significantly less slippy than its wood cousin, the reason for this is composite decking absorbs water at extremely low rates.

They are some factors you need to bear in mind when choosing your composite decking based on slip resistance. First generation composite decking (link) – is made from wood fibres and HDPE plastics, this means the surface of first-generation composite decking boards will absorb water at a slightly higher rate leading to less slip resistance than that of the upgraded second-generation version of composite decking.

Second-Generation composite decking (link) – also known as capped/shielded or coextrusion composite decking offers minimal to no water absorption making the board 85% more slip resistance than first generations composite and regular wood decking.

Although please bear in mind, that composite decking is not completely non-slip. As with any surface that gets extremely wet, has spillages or is icy, there is a chance you may slip, so caution should always be exercised.

How do I calculate how much decking I need?

A very common question and one almost all customers ask. Don’t worry experienced decking installers also ask this a lot, so your not alone.

There is no such thing as a stupid question, we are here to help you whatever the question.

If you want the fastest way to calculate how much your decking will costs, follow this link to our product pages if you already know your total square metres.

To calculate how much composite decking board you will require you will first have to get your total square meterage, you can do this other ways but below is the cleanest and simplest in our experience.

To work out the square meterage, simply break down the decking area in several rectangles. Measuring the length and width of each rectangle area to give you the total square meters required. If you are not sure you can always call to discuss with one of our experts.

Once you have your square metre area you will then need to divide the square metre of the composite decking board into the square metre area.

To do this you will need to transfer the metres into mm, simple x1000, so 2.9 metres = 2900 mm. Then the width is always in mm, again x the length and width example 2900 x 142 = 412,000 move the decimal point by 6 and you have your board’s square meterage of 0.412.

divide into your square metre area. if you don’t get a whole number always round up to the nearest whole number never round down, for example, if you get 129.334 always round to the highest round number so in this case 130. Otherwise you will be left short of decking.

What is composite wood made from

Composite decking (link) is made from wood fibres, sawdust or wood chips along with HPE recycled plastics with added bonding agents.

Depending on the manufacturing process used, depends on the quality of the HPE plastics and wood fibres. This makes the difference over the years on structural strength, maintenance and the natural weathering process, e.g. will it bleach or fade faster?

How long do composite decking boards last for?

Composite decking boards (link) can last for more than 30 years if the structural core is made from quality grade “A” plastics helping to increase the board’s strength.

As a guide, a square hollow composite decking board (link) has a lifespan of between 10 and 15 years.

A circle hollow composite decking board has a lifespan of between 15 to 25 years.

A solid core composite decking board has a lifespan of 25 to 30 years.

As with most manufacturing processes, the quality depends on the materials and the technology used to produce the composite decking board. As a guide, have look at some homemade test we recommend (link).

Can composite decking be ripped?

Composite decking boards can be ripped, this is not adviceable by all manufacturers and suppliers and will normally void any warranty. If you are going to rip a composite decking board our advice is to reduce the width rather than thickness, but do try to use full board lengths when possible for your decking surface.

Second generation composite decking slightly lightens in 25 years, meaning the colour you lay today on our signature collection is going to be the same colour you will have in 25 years.

One key factor to keep in your mind is the quality of the composite decking you are purchasing. This truly does make a huge difference.  Although over the years some fading will occur, you have to consider that all materials used have to be grade A and tested. If they are you will have no issues with colour for decades, for homemade tests follow the link.

Is composite decking slippery in the winter?

Once ice, snow and algae build up on a wooden deck during winter it becomes a serious slip hazard.

Composite decking will stand up to the harshest winter conditions becoming less of a hazard than it wooden cousin mainly due to its slip resistant design and surface properties.

The main reason a deck becomes slippy is the build up of algae, mould and mildew. These issues are almost completely resolved, especially in second generation composite decking due to its shielding.

To ensure your deck stays safe in the winter, Ultra Decking advise to regularly brush off any leaves and dirt. Also, give your composite deck a soft brush with warm soapy water every autumn.

How much does it cost to build a composite deck

When planning your composite decking project you will first need to decide on the type of composite decking you prefer.

A key indicator to consider is how often and how many people (footfall) will be using the deck. For home or residential use, Ultra Deckings Value range is recommended. The Value range’s structural strength and core thickness are ideal for most domestic installations.

Ultra Deckings premier range which offers a circular core design and very high structural strength is ideal for decks used in commercial areas with high footfall such as beer gardens, public houses and hotels or almost any area with public access.

Another consideration is the level of maintenance you wish to perform over the life of your composite decking. With 1st generation composite wood decking, no matter where you purchase from, these board will come with a degree of light bi-annual maintenance in the form of brushing off loose dirt and hosing down. A pressure washer can be used on a very low setting that won’t damage or disturb the decks surface. You should first test the pressure washer setting in a non-conspicuous spot before use.

You may also need to upkeep the colour of first-generation composite decking boards at some point during its life. This will most likely be a coat of clear sealant or lacquer on the top surface of the deck. Having said that, the Ultra Decking value range (link) will keep its colour for up to 8 years, at which point you may want a colour change anyway.

If its low to no maintenance and you want to keep your costs to a minimum with a long-lasting wood grain look with some upkeep we recommend our new value (link) composite decking range. The Ultra Decking value range offers all benefits of composite decking UV resistant, a deep embossed wood grain look, no splinting, warping or cracking and a strong structural strength to last you for decades for a similar wood decking price of £** per square metre.

What is the best decking materials

Problems with composite decking

During your research of composite decking, you will want to know all the pros and cons (link), for the different types of composite decking (link).

You could spend a long time researching this topic as composite decking has been around for many, many years and its growing in popularity and choice. Why? Because its the best overall solution, although since the introduction of Composite Decking it has had its fair share of problems which over the last 15 years due to extensive investigations and research have been stabilised and resolved.

No matter if you purchase from Ultra Decking or another supplier, do your research and ask questions. Make sure the supplier knows exactly what they are talking about and are knowledgeable. If they have purchased from a third party manufacturer that’s of low quality you will quickly experience the issues and problems associated with the early 1st generation ranges of composite decking issues (link).

Can you paint composite decking

This is a question you may ask 5-10 years down the line if you fancy a change in colour.

First generation composite decking can be painted (link) since the surface texture is made of wood fibres, you can treat with a stain, sealant or clear lacquer and paint just like wood.

Please note: If you do choose to paint your composite decking please wait until the composite decking boards have complete its 3-month natural weathering process to avoid any further discolouring.

Second generation composite decking slightly lightens in 25 years, meaning the colour you lay today on our signature collection is going to be the same colour you will have in 25 years.

One key factor to keep in your mind is the quality of the composite decking you are purchasing. This truly does make a huge difference.  Although over the years some fading will occur, you have to consider that all materials used have to be grade A and tested. If they are you will have no issues with colour for decades, for homemade tests follow the link.