Does composite decking fade?
If you are thoroughly investigating and researching composite decking, you will have no doubt come across the term “fading or fade”. Rightly so! This is by far the most common question Ultra Decking is asked by decking installers and new clients planning their new decking project.
You need to be very careful with low quality cheap imitations claiming that their composite decking boards will not fade or bleach under the sun. If you are provided with this type of advice during the purchase of composite decking, you may want to question the integrity of that advice.
Sunlight (UV Rays)
It is worth noting that the sun breaks down most materials and their colours at an atomic level. That may sound too scientific for most people, which it is. The honest and short answer is, almost all man-made materials will experience some form of degradation from exposure to mother nature’s elements including the sun’s harmful UV rays.
To properly answer the question of “fading or bleaching” you first need to understand the different types of 1st and 2nd generation composite decking currently available in today’s market.
FIRST GENERATION DECKING
The first generation of composite decking surfaces that are still being manufactured today from wood fibres/powder and recycled plastics, once installed they will go through a natural weathering process (link) for the first 3-6 months of their service life. This is mainly due to the boards surface texture which are made from 60% recycled wood to supply a more natural appearance. However, as with all wood types when exposed to mother nature’s elements, over time the colour will lighten.
The first natural process first generation decking boards (any uncapped decking board) will go through is the stage called extractive bleeding. This happens within the first 8-10 weeks as natural wood oils are contained in first generation decking boards. Once installed the wood oils are washed out by rain and moisture in the air. Most customers will not notice this process. Please note that lighter colour first-generation composite decking boards go through the most changes as more natural wood oils are used to achieve the colour.
The next stage of the natural weathering process is caused by the Suns UV rays. A good quality first-generation composite decking board should incorporate UV ray stabilizers helping to control this natural process. Of course, this does depend on the quality of raw materials used to produce the decking boards, however, as with most woods it will lighten over time.
To gauge the UV fade rate and colour stabilisation after the first 6 months of your composite decks life, you can place a sample next to your deck that has not been exposed to the elements. This should give you a true reflection of the colour difference and how your deck will look for the remainder of its service life.
As discussed, all first generation decking boards will fade to a lighter colour. The rate of fade in the first 3-6 months is on average a reduction of 30-40% in colour. How aggressive and intense the fading or bleaching will be, depends on the quality of the raw materials used during the manufacturing process. Not all composite decking boards are made the same way. They may look similar, however by conducting some home testing on the different type of board samples can give you a real insight into the boards quality. Best home test to perform is boiling the samples for up to 10 hours.
After the first 3-6 months natural weathering process, the colour fade of the composite decking boards will stabilise, the fade will continue but at a much slower rate. In Ultra Decking’s experience, we often advise our customers that the most noticeable change in colour will be in the first 6-12 weeks after this period the composite decking boards will stabilise to there natural lighter colour, but again will continue at a much slower rate. Please note when choosing your composite decking colour all colours will lighten so please bare this in mind when making your choose.
ASK US NOW
If you are concerned about fading please feel free to make contact for advice and guidance, even if you’re not purchasing from ourselves. For additional help, we also have a contact form which you can use to contact us directly. We are very responsive.
Second generation composite decking is often referred to as “capped” or “shielded” Co-Extrusion decking. The decking board has a shield or cap covering the entire surface of the decking board which offers added protection against fading and staining with near to no colour changes during its 25-year service life.
Have a look at Ultra Deckings Platinum and Signature range of composite decking which also offers low to no maintenance and a natural wood appearance like no others available. It looks and feels like indoor wood flooring. It’s that beautiful.
Second generation composite decking can lighten ever so slightly during its service life. In short, the colour you choose from our Signature collection today will be the same colour in 25 year’s time.
One key factor to consider is the quality of the composite decking you purchase. This does make a huge difference. Over the life of your new composite decking, some fading will occur. You must consider and confirm that the raw materials used are “Grade A” and tested prior to the manufacturing and production of each new decking board. If you are reassured on the quality, you should have no issues with colour fade during the life of your new composite decking.
For information on homemade tests follow the link.
The elements from Mother Nature including the sun over the years can be very aggressive and harmful to any man-made products. As discussed, the sun can break down colours at an atomic level with the surface of all first-generation composite decking experiencing fading during the first 3-6 months and then stabilise and continuing at a much slower rate. For lower quality composite decking boards, the fading will be accelerated over a shorter time. We do advice customer that they may want to bring the colour back to life after an estimated 6-8 years or even change the style with an in style colour. The first generation wood powder boards gives the flexibility of doing just this. Second generation composite decking with its shield or capped surface will experience almost no fading during its 25 years of service.