It is very easy to get emotional about the ‘friendliness and warmth’ of real wood. Understandable, it has been around for a long time. That does not give it sole rights as being better or the only suitable material to carry on building things like our fathers and forefathers did. Things progress.
Some arguments for wood against plastic have been round for years. Now in 2016 with composite becoming increasingly popular, here are some factors to consider.
Wood is cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Have you ever trod barefoot on an untreated – bleached – deck in the hottest of weather? The hotness – or coolness – is related to its inherent colour more than the material construction. Light surfaces reflect heat – and so are cooler. This will be the same for composite composition decking also.
Natural wood is easier to maintain than composite decking.
Anything in the open air will get dirty, and much depends upon where you live. That’s why people have to wash their cars and windows. Dependent upon the species of wood used in your deck, it will need oiling at least each year and maybe more. Yes, plastic decking – as wood decking – will get dirty from your local dirt. So, just wash it off – wood or plastic.
There is a mould problem with composite decking.
Correction – there ‘was’ a mold problem with earlier types of composites. There are also mold, or fungal problems with most woods in shaded or damp situations. If you regularly clean and look after your decking you shouldn’t have these issues.
Composite Decking is Slippery when wet!
This aspect has been rectified by the manufacturers long ago. More or less all plastic decking types have now passed the anti-slip regulations. Still not sure? Ask the supplier they should be able to tell you what anti-slip qualities the decking has, ask for samples, it will be easy to see with testing if the decking is going to be slippery.
Stains are hard to clean on plastic decking.
Plastic decking is easy to clean and maintain, as with wood decking, a bit of elbow grease and the right cleaner usually brings off any stains or dirt. A proactive approach is to keep your deck clean as you would your windows!
A Sinking feeling with composite deck boards.
Because of the way and materials that are used in the manufacture of composite decking, they are not classed as having ’structural’ properties. If for example you tread on a substantial timber deck board that is supported at say 1.8m (6 feet) it will probably sag – not break. If you do the same to a composite deck board, it will most certainly break. To overcome this, you simply position your decking joist closer than with wood decking. More about composite deck building here.
Wood Decks look better than plastic decks.
With constant competition the aesthetics of composite decking are getting better and better, now its hard to tell the difference between wood and composite. The benefit with composite is it stays looking newer for longer, as it doesn’t need treating it keeps the rich original colour. But as with anything it comes down to personal preference, look at samples, see it in place and go for which you prefer. We have more on colour and texture and types of composite decking.
Wood decking lasts longer and wear better than plastic composite decks!
It’s worth considering that the majority of the ‘decking’ surfacing at the London Olympics 2012 was specified for the use of composite decking, it’s also worth considering in a high traffic use area in London Zoo, it was decided that composite decking was the way forward. Both of these were considered after long consultations and scientific tests. Wooden decking can last for a substantial period of time, but the composition of composite decking allows for a harder surface meaning a longer life span. Do your research on decking though, many companies offer both solid and hollow decking boards – the solid boards are far stronger and thus a longer lifespan is likely.
It is also worth noting that many composite decking companies offer a warranty for their products. This will give you an idea of how long the decking will last with regular cleaning and maintenance.