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Is Composite Decking Hot To Walk On?

Does Composite Decking Get Hot?


When Britain’s summer finally arrives, inviting us into our gardens with friends and family, concerns about the potential heat build-up on our decks come to the forefront.

The primary concern stems from the material used in composite decking, incorporating plastic fibres that can quickly absorb and retain heat. Whether your decking is made from plastic, PVC, wood or composite material, all types of material are susceptible to heating up under the relentless blaze of the sun. On the other hand, by understanding the numerous factors that cause this increase in temperature we can look at methods to prevent your decking from becoming too hot to walk on. So first, lets have a look at the factors.

What Factors Dictate The Temperature Of My Decking?

To properly answer this, we need to look into several factors that may affect the temperature of any deck. These considerations include the deck’s degree of exposure to sunlight, the type of material used, and the decking board’s colour.

1 Degree of Exposure to Sunlight

The first obvious factor when determining how much the temperature of your decking will increase is the level of sunlight exposure it will have. Gardens that are south facing will of course, experience warmer temperatures when walking on the decking barefoot. If your garden is north facing, you do not need to worry as your decking will be in the shade for a large amount of time throughout the day.

2 Material of the Decking

The heat retained by your decking partly depends on the material it is made of.

Natural wood decking typically isn’t a good conductor of heat, but a great natural insulator, meaning wood has the advantages of being cooler in the heat than most other materials. When tested for several hours under direct sunlight averaging 30 degrees Celsius, pine and cedar retained heat between 48 to 69 degrees Celsius. Some tropical woods retained heat from 57 to 65 degrees Celsius.
Ipe decking boards are made of very dense wood, allowing the material to retain less heat compared to its counterparts. During tests, Ipe boards retained heat at 5860 degrees Celsius and stayed coolest among the wood decking materials tested.

Composite decking boards, specifically the second generation capped boards with PE layer used in tests, retained heat at 56 to 65 degrees Celsius, showing a minimal difference in heat retention between wood and composites.

All kinds of materials soak up the heat when exposed to direct sunlight. Even natural wood decking becomes too hot to walk on barefoot when it is exposed to the summer sun over a prolonged period. However, timber does not just get too hot to walk on; it may also splinter, crack, or expand due to the heat. On the other hand, composite decking boards wont crack or splinter from the heat at any stage of its life span but they will expand.

3 Colour is Important

Aside from the amount of exposure under direct sunlight and the material of the decking boards, other factors can impact how fast your decking can get hot. One such example is the colour of the material. Darker-coloured decking will more likely get hot faster than lighter-coloured ones, as dark colours absorb more light.

In contrast, light colours reflect light instead of absorbing it. Therefore, dark-brown decking can potentially get hot faster than light-grey composite decking. This effect is the same reason wearing dark clothes on a hot day can make you feel much warmer. If you want composite decking that does not get too hot, choose light-coloured composite decking boards with a hollow core.

How To Manage The Temperature Of Your Decking?

You will want to enjoy the sun whilst it is out. Nonetheless, if you want to extend your time on your composite decking outdoors, there are options and solutions to keep your composite decking cool.

If you want to walk barefoot on your composite decking, you can place outdoor rugs that help soak up some of suns heat, making it much easier to walk on your deck. Outdoor rugs will also add colour and style to your composite decking. You can always roll them and store them indoors whenever they are not in use.

You can also install a misting fan on your composite decking to help stay cool outdoors.

Another way is to plant trees that will create a shade over your composite decking —although the trees might take years to grow. Another alternative is to build a canopy over a portion of your composite decking. If you want a less costly solution, you can simply add a patio umbrella to minimise direct exposure to sunlight.

Conclusion

All types of decking material retain heat when exposed to direct sunlight. The amount of heat a decking material will retain is dependant on the material used as well as other factors such as sunlight exposure and the colour of decking purchased.

If you want your friends, family and pets to be able to walk barefoot on your decking during hot sunny days we recommend choosing light-coloured composite decking boards with a hollow core.

These boards are more resistant to heat, due to lighter colours being able to reflect UV ryas and will therefore stay cooler in the summer. They closely resemble wood when it comes to heat retention and dissipation. None the less, the benefits of using composite materials for your decking outweigh the concerns surrounding heat retention during extreme weather.

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