Garden Decking has come a long way over the years, from original basic softwood decking we have seen the introduction of higher quality hardwood timber deckboards and more recently ‘composite decking’. Many years ago you would simply build a garden deck out of “softwood”, but these days there is such a range in choice of decking material that you may find yourself lost and without direction.
But there is one thing that you can be sure about when it comes to wood decking, it will need care and maintenance. Yearly sanding, staining and resealing will become part of a wooden deck owners life, however in recent years deckboard innovations have given ways to solve this chore. This has resulted in the options of vinyl, aluminium or even plastic decking. Thanks to these many variations, composite decking was formed.
Composite decking is decking that has been constructed from a combination of different materials (Mostly wood and plastic), which are designed to give the appearance of natural wood. For those of you who are very green, the wood and plastic is usually made from virgin or recycled materials. The components are mixed (usually with pigment and preservative), then heated, shaped into board lengths and left to cool. This creates boards of composite decking. Although not as strong as plain wood, it is resistant to rot, won’t warp and will not leave you or anyone else with splinters to deal with. It will also never need to be painted, stained or sealed.
So let’s say you have decided composite decking is for you, now you have to decide which type! Now don’t worry, there are only two choices, but it is still an important decision. You have to decide between solid or hollow composite decking.
Solid will look and feel a lot more natural. It will be heavier and have more mass. However the downside to this is that temperature changes will cause it to expand and contract, which if not accounted for can be a problem.
Hollow won’t be so susceptible to temperature changes, but still has its drawbacks. Not only will it look less natural and more man-made, but because it is hollow it can be more fragile and will require very careful handling to make sure it does not get damaged before it is installed.
Between the two solid is much more popular, and in my opinion the better choice.
The next decision is which type of material you want your composite decking to be made of. Now I am going to keep this section brief as there is a lot of information and big fancy scientific words, but at the end of the day they don’t really mean a lot. The only real difference that the material makes is how it looks and feels. So the best thing to do is go to a store so you can feel and see it yourself, or look online for reviews and descriptions of the particular type of composite decking material you are considering. That is really the only important information regarding materials.
That is pretty much all you need to know for an introduction. The only subject left would be installation, however that is enormously in depth and is very specific to what you want out of your decking. I would advise that since you are reading an introduction to composite decking, you would probably be best to hire professionals to install it. It will cost the same as getting wood decking installed, but in the long wrong it is much better to have it professionally installed than to risk making a mistake and damaging it.
I hope this introduction to composite garden decking has given you a good idea about what you want and what you need.