Composite Decking – Low-Maintenance and Eco-Friendly

by Rachel Laurendeau on April 17, 2012

In honor of Earth Week, we are dedicating this week’s blog posts to actions that can be taken by homeowners in an effort to make our homes more environmentally sustainable.

Is it time to finally install that deck you’ve been dreaming of? Or maybe your existing deck has seen better days and you’re tired of having to re-stain it each year. There are a number of materials available to create decks and patios and recently, manufactured composite decking products have become more readily available. They offer the look of a wood deck without any of the hassles.

What is composite decking?
Simply, it is decking material made of a combination of materials, typically using recycled plastics and waste products from the agricultural and wood industries. For example, one popular brand is made of a blend of polyethylene and rice hulls while another is made of recycled milk jugs and straw.

What are the benefits of composite decking?

  • It is strong and durable, won’t warp, splinter, crack or rot.
  • It never needs to be scraped, sanded and stained, unlike wood.
  • It is long lasting, resistant to insect pests, mold and mildew. This makes it ideal around a pool or hot tub.
  • It is available in different natural-looking colors and finishes to suit many tastes.
  • It is eco-friendly, typically made of recycled materials such as milk jugs or agricultural bi-products such as rice hulls.

What type of maintenance is required?
One of the main reasons for choosing composite decking is its ease of maintenance. All you have to do is give it a dry sweep as needed and wash it using warm soapy water and a sponge when it gets dirty. A bleach-free laundry detergent is best.

As for winter maintenance, use only a plastic edged shovel to remove snow. Do not chip away ice as you could chip out a chunk of your deck. If it gets icy, you can use an ice/snow melt that will not stain or damage cement, then sweep the ice melt off the surface of the deck.

Ok, but how much does it cost?

As with most innovative products, composite decking is more expensive to install than a traditional wooden deck. It has, however, come down in cost over the past few years as more and more people are deciding to use it. If you sit down and calculate how much it will cost to have your deck builder scrape, sand and stain your wood deck yearly over the course of its life, the price of the composite deck suddenly seems very reasonable.

Not all composite products are created equally. Reliable manufacturers will back their product with a lengthy warranty. Do your homework on this one and be sure to speak to your local deck builder or home improvement professional to learn more.

If you found this blog interesting, you may also like Perk Up Your Outdoor Space With a Pergola.

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