As more homeowners expand their outdoor living space with backyard decks, many are opting for composite decking. This newer alternative to wooden or vinyl decks requires little maintenance and comes in a number of styles and colours. As you make your decking decisions, our fencing and decking experts here at Frontier would love to answer any questions you have. That’s why they’ve put together the below 10 FAQs when it comes to composite decking to help in your decision making process.

1. What is composite decking made of?

Made from a combination of plastic and wood fibers, composite decking is manufactured to look like real wood decking. The components of composite decking often come from recycled materials. There aren’t any preservative chemicals used during manufacturing, and you get to skip the splinters that come from traditional wooden decks!

2. How long does composite decking last?

Composite decking is well known for its long life. Since the plastic protects the wood fibers from the elements, composite decking isn’t prone to rotting, or termite damage. It also won’t fade or wear down from constant exposure to the sun and cold temperatures. Often accompanied with warranties that range from 10-25 years, most composite decks are guaranteed that they won’t rot or suffer structural damage under normal residential conditions.

3. What colours and styles are available?

Available in a wide variety of colours, textures, and wood grain looks, composite decking allows homeowners to find the right product for just about any decking project. Choose from natural looking wood colours like walnut, or go with a stained gray or silver look. Grooved and smooth boards are also available, along with a variety of reversible options that feature a simple brushed texture on one side and a realistic wood grain texture on the other.

4. What’s the difference between hollow and solid core boards?

Looking more like lumber, as the name states, solid boards are solid all the way through. Hollow boards on the other hand, look slightly more man-made and feature ribbed centers. Both board options provide a strong and quality deck you can count on.

5. What’s the difference between grooved and ungrooved boards?

The major difference between these two types of boards is the edges which impacts installation. Grooved boards feature a notch or channel down the edges and are installed with hidden deck fasteners instead of visible nails. Ungrooved boards have solid edges and are installed with nails drilled into the top of the board.

6. Does composite decking require maintenance?

Here’s the real beauty of composite decks – they require very minimal maintenance. Just make sure that you are regularly clearing off any debris such as leaves, dirt and dust. Give your deck a more thorough clean at least twice a year using a brush, hose and mild household cleaner. Don’t user power washers, as they can actually damage the deck. Unlike wooden decks, composite decking doesn’t require staining, waterproofing or sealing.

7. Can I paint or stain composite decking?

Since the material is impregnated with a dye that will last as long as your deck does, we recommend that you do not paint or stain your composite deck. If you do opt to paint or stain the deck, it will require regular upkeep, similar to the maintenance for wooden decks.

8. What span length can I do with composite decking?

For perpendicular applications, the span should be 12 to 16 inches between joists. We recommend spans of 16 inches for a strong and solid deck. If you install at a 45-degree angle, a maximum of 12 inches on center will give the best result.

9. Do I need special equipment or tools to install composite decking?

You don’t need special tools to install composite decking, but you do need standard woodworking tools for cutting and building if you want to do it on your own. Since composite decking materials cut just like wood, you can use a circular saw or a miter saw for installation. This type of decking also accepts nails and screws just like real wood.

10. How much does composite decking expand and contract?

Composite decking expands and contracts as temperatures rise and fall, however, the exact amount depends on the difference between the temperature during installation and your local area’s maximum temperature. In general, it’s best to allow 3/16 inch to ¼ inch gaps between boards to allow for expansion and contraction, as well as to let dirt and water flow away naturally.

Still have more questions about composite decking or ready to install a new one? Contact us today and we would be more than happy to answer all of your questions and give you a FREE estimate on your project.