Even the best of materials has its disadvantages. The same goes for composite decking materials. Composite materials are some of the best boards to use in decking. It’s durable, low-maintenance, and long-lasting. However, it too has some cons. When building a deck, you will want to weigh these pros and cons. But what are the disadvantages of using composite decking boards?
Disadvantages of Composite Decking Boards
High Initial Cost
The first disadvantages of composite decking boards are their price, and the price is one of the major deciding factors when we are buying anything. So how much do composites cost compared to traditional decking materials? Wood, especially softwood, can cost as much as half of the price of composites. Some hardwoods are more expensive than composites, but there are only a few.
So when the budget is concerned, you may prefer wood to composites. With that said, there are still plenty of excellent trade-offs for the higher cost of composites. Composites are long-lasting and can last for at least twice that of softwood decks. A softwood deck can last for 15 years max, while a composite decking board can last for more than 25 years.
They are also easy to clean. You will only need to use common household cleaning items, such as a brush and some soapy water. They are also resistant to many issues found among wooden patios. For instance, they are resistant to insect damage, don’t splinter, and rarely warps due to shrinkage and expansion.
Another disadvantage of working with composites is their heavyweight. This problem will be an issue if you’re installing your deck all by yourself. It also makes it hard to transport these materials. Because of their heavier weight, you will need to make a sturdier frame that can support the boards.
Fortunately, some boards are designed to be lighter than the regular composite decking boards, called hollow composites. The inner portion of these boards is hollowed-out, making it easier to transport or install. Despite their hollowed centres, they are as strong as regular composite decking boards. However, depending on where you live, it may be hard to obtain these boards.
Can’t Be Painted
You may have heard that you can’t paint a composite board. The truth is, you can paint the board, but it is not recommended. Because of the smooth outer plastic layer of most composites, the paint will only slide off the boards. To paint it, you will need to sand them. But by doing so, you will be removing any added protection that the composites provide. For instance, it will lose its moisture-resistance and will be more prone to splinters and peeling.
So, if you plan to change the colour of your deck every few years, composites may not be for you. But if not, then composites can be excellent materials. They don’t fade like wood. Wood turns into grey when it fades but composites only lighten in colour. And the best thing is, you can select different patterns, colours, or grains when buying composite decking boards and tiles. So when buying composites, make sure that you have the right colour and pattern.
Can Be Slippery
Another minor issue with composite decking is that it can be slippery when wet. Because most composites have smooth plastic caps, it gets a little slippery. But they are less slippery than 100% plastic boards. Like wood, composites can also be slippery if moulds grow on the surface. However, the chances of these moulds growing on composites are lesser than on wood. As long as you clean it regularly, you won’t have to worry about this issue.
So if you are planning to build a deck near a water feature, such as a fountain or pool, you may want to go with hardwoods. However, if you do want to get composites, you can find some which are less slippery than others. Go for composite decking boards with grained textures. This feature increases friction and makes it safer near water. And the best thing is, composites are resistant to water.
Overall, composite materials are excellent decking boards. However, they do have some disadvantages, and there may be times that you would want to use hardwoods instead.