Composite Decking – myths and misconceptions…

Composite decking has been around commercially for almost 20 years now, with average public use and consumption being just over half of that. For those of you that don’t know, composite lumber is just that – a mix of plastic(usually recycled) and lumber (also recycled or scrap). The benefits to having such a product on your deck are multiple. They offer no staining, no splinters, long life, the ability to make exotic shapes and designs, etc. However, the most common misconception with composite decking is that it is a Zero maintenance product. It isn’t, and for that matter neither is Cedar or any other organic wood. Because there is an organic component to the lumber, it is susceptible to mold just like cedar or Pressure treated wood. A composite deck needs to be cleaned with a deck cleaner twice yearly, once when you take it out for the spring, and again when you put it away for the winter. When treated properly, there is little chance that these “lifetime” decks will cause any aggravation, and will give you many years of near zero trouble.

Many of the newer composite decking products now have a protective covering on each board to resist mold growth and staining. This protective layer, has no organic material in it, this greatly reducing the chance of any mold growth and staining. Regardless, mold growth on composite decking does not penetrate into composite lumber because of layering and the plastic encapsulation. What this means is that any staining is surface and can be washed off easily, and is not absorbed into the wood. It doesn’t take ling to clean a deck, 30 square feet can be prepped and cleaned in just over an hour or so. With a wood deck, there is a lot of prepping – sanding, stripping, and such – a huge time commitment. As always, it is recommended to spot test your cleaner to be sure of the results.

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