Composite decking, sometimes referred to as plastic decking or WPC decking, has been growing in popularity over the past few years. While traditional timber decking has been sought after in the UK since the 1990s when gardens were first designed to be an extension of the home, more people are becoming aware of the drawbacks of laying a traditional timber deck.
Although decking continues to be a popular garden feature, consumers are becoming more aware of the alternatives out there and in particular, the benefits of composite products when choosing the right material to install in their garden. For anyone looking to make the most of outdoor space, composite decking is the perfect solution.
What is composite decking?
Composite decking is the fastest-growing timber decking alternative currently available on the market. The deck boards are manufactured from a combination of recycled plastics and wood fibre which is combined with colour pigments before being heated and extruded to create the deck boards. Some composite products are then 3D embossed to generate a natural wood grain effect.
Composite deck boards are often capped which maximises resistance to staining, weathering and fading. When considering investing in composite decking, it’s important to understand what to look out for as product specification can vary dramatically. Ultraviolet inhibitors, recycled graded HDPE and end-of-life FSC hardwood timber are all markers of high-quality products which have been designed to last.
The environmental benefits
One million plastic bottles are bought every minute around the world, and that number will top half a trillion by 2021, however, less than half of those bottles end up getting recycled. As global challenges around plastic waste and the ability to plant forests to meet future timber demands increase, composites provide a sustainable and aesthetic alternative to timber.
Making sustainable choices when it comes to developing and designing gardens is crucial to ensure we begin to combat the growing crisis around waste. Composite products are usually more sustainable and eco-friendly than timber, however, it’s important to note that not all composites are manufactured the same, and environmental credentials can vary. Anyone looking to purchase composite decking should consider buying from an environmentally-conscious brand. Recycled plastic and end-of-life, FSC-certified wood are both key ingredients of brands which are investing in sustainability to support the planet.
Why choose composites?
Composite products are manufactured using the latest technology to provide the look and feel of traditional timber decking without the hassle of high maintenance, or health and safety concerns.
The components are blended together, and the finished product is extruded and engineered to perform to ensure that it meets the requirements of landscapers and garden designers across the board.
While timber is high maintenance, requiring painting and staining annually, the unique formula of composite products has a range of benefits. The plastic content gives the boards a long lifespan without the need for life-extending treatments such as sanding or oil, while the wood content enables the product to retain its natural look and feel. Composite decking is suitable for all residential gardens and other projects as it doesn’t warp, crack or splinter, therefore, making it bare-foot safe. Composite products can also be fire resistant up to a B rating.
In addition, capped decking combined with UV protection will keep boards looking brand new as the risk of staining and fading from the sunlight will be minimal. Some capped decking products are also able to replicate the natural look of traditional timber decking, making it the perfect choice for all residential projects, including gardens for large families or consumers with pets.
Composite decking often also comes as a full system, complete with clips for easy installation, end caps and fascias so every deck can be installed to a high standard which will last for years.
Maximising garden value
Gardens have always been a desirable asset, but since lockdown began in March, outdoor space has never been so important with gardens now the most popular feature people are looking for in their next home.
However, in order to maximise garden value, it’s important that outside space is easy to maintain while also being liveable. Many consumers are most interested in creating a garden which is practical and features a number of different solutions to make outdoor living a reality.
Composite products are the perfect material to create a garden which looks great but is easy to maintain. Laying a deck will give homeowners more space to enjoy, while installing composites will limit the maintenance required.
Furthermore, composite decking can be levelled to match the inside of the house to create greater accessibility and easier transition between different spaces, while numerous safety aspects such as fire ratings, slip resistance and no splintering will also be attractive to people looking for a product which can meet any requirement.