Demystifying Composite Decking
First introduced in the late 1980s, composite decking quickly gained acceptance among builders and homeowners who recognized and appreciated being able to achieve a natural wood look without the ongoing hassles of upkeep. While most people today understand the main benefits of composite decking – durability and minimal maintenance – the material itself is still new enough to raise questions, confusion and some skepticism among homeowners who grew up with wood decks.
To help set the record straight, Trex Company, the world’s No. 1 decking and railing brand and leader in high-performance, low-maintenance outdoor living products, has teamed with backyard design experts Paul Lafrance and Kate Campbell of HGTV’s acclaimed “Decked Out” series.
Misconception No. 1: Composite decking looks “fake.”
“Composite decking has evolved tremendously since its beginnings more than 20 years ago,” Campbell said. “The latest generation of products, such as Trex Transcend, look more natural than ever, featuring high-definition wood grain patterns and rich, saturated colors ranging from warm browns and pristine grey to spicy reds. There are also tropically inspired boards designed with subtle color variations and authentic streaking that mimic the look and feel of exotic hardwoods without the environmental impact – or splinters.”
Misconception No. 2: All composite decking materials are the same.
“Since composite decking was invented in the early 1990s, the market has been flooded with competitive offerings varying widely in quality, aesthetics and value,” Lafrance said. “For my projects, I use what is categorized as ‘high-performance’ composite manufactured with an integrated, three-sided shell or ‘cap.’ Capped boards feature an added layer of protection against severe weather, heavy foot traffic, fading, mold and staining.”
Misconception No. 3: Composite decking is maintenance free.
“Anything that sits outside in the elements for years on end is going to need some type of maintenance,” Campbell said. “When it comes to decking, the difference lies in how much upkeep is required. Maintaining wood decking is a downright chore with all the scrubbing, sanding and staining that wood requires – not to mention the replacement of splintered, warped and rotten boards. High-performance composite decking, on the other hand, calls for just wiping up spills when they happen and a simple soap-and-water cleaning twice a year – once in the spring when you’re getting it ready for outdoor living season and again when you close up your outdoor living space for the winter.”
Misconception No. 4: Composite decking is too expensive.
“Over time, wood decking actually ends up being more expensive than composite,” Lafrance said. “Sure, the initial cost of pressure-treated lumber is less than wood alternatives, but since a deck is a long-term investment, it’s important to consider the long-term costs, such as all the materials you’ll need for seasonal stripping, staining, painting and sealing. Add to that the time and cost involved in repairing and replacing wooden deck boards that will inevitably warp and splinter over time – even if they are well-maintained. When you factor in the cost of ongoing maintenance required with a wood deck, a composite deck ends up paying for itself in the long run.”
Misconception No. 5: Composite decking is not eco-friendly.
“Because it is made primarily from recycled content, composite decking is remarkably eco-friendly,” Campbell said. “In fact, Trex composite decking is made from 95 percent recycled content. By using plastic and industrial wood scraps that would otherwise wind up in landfills, they use more than 400 million pounds of recycled material each year in the making of their deck boards.”
For more information, visit trex.com.