Composite decking: what is it and how can you use it your garden?
Whether you dream of an al fresco dining area, a sunny reading spot, or a tropical landscaped garden, composite decking can be used to create your ultimate outdoor space.
Whether you dream of an al fresco dining area, a sunny reading spot, or a tropical landscaped garden, composite decking can be used to create your ultimate outdoor space. An alternative to timber decking that's growing in popularity, composite decking recreates the natural look of wood grain without the maintenance (and rot). We spoke to Luke Jeffrey, Sales Manager at Ultra Decking, to find out more.
What is composite decking?
Composite decking is an alternative to timber decking that is manufactured from HDPE plastics and wood fibres to create hard-wearing decking boards. The plastics used in the composite are often recycled — Ultra Decking's ranges use HDPE plastics made from waste materials such as plastic bags and milk bottles.
How do you install composite decking?
Composite decking is usually fairly simple to install, and very similar in process to installing timber decking.
Some key points to remember for installation and to prevent any possible future issues are: gaps for expansion, water drainage, joist centres and maintaining good airflow.
Laying out decking boards ahead of installation can help you see how the finished deck will look, and help acclimate boards before installation. Depending on where you lay your deck, you may need to remove turf and level the area.
Once the area is measured, you will need to install decking posts and lay weed control, then build the decking frame. Starting from the building or wall that edges your deck, remembering to leave a 25mm gap from fixed objects, lay the boards and install with a starter decking fastener. Solid bullnose composite decking boards or composite corner trims can also be added to create a clean edging finish.
What are the benefits of composite decking?
Composite decking has numerous benefits based on performance, environmental impact and longevity. It's less likely to absorb water so, unlike traditional wood options, it won't rot, get termites or fungi, or splinter over the years.
Additionally, composite decking doesn’t need painting, offers increased colour stability and variety, and won’t need continuous treatment, making it the ideal low maintenance option for improving your space and giving you more time to focus on building your perfect garden.
What are the disadvantages of composite decking?
While the cost of composite decking can be more expensive than other options, it does have a much longer lifespan. When considering longevity, it's important to check the quality that the manufacturer can provide — not all composites are made to the same standards, so make sure to do your research and buy from trusted suppliers.
And, although composite decking mimics the look of wooden decking, and in many cases is hard to tell a difference in appearance, for some the look and feel of 100% wooden decking is important; in which case composite may not be the right option.
How much does composite decking cost?
The cost of composite decking will vary depending on the type, generation and quality used, as well as the size of the project. Typically, the cost is higher than traditional wood decking, but its longevity and lack of maintenance required means you're less likely to incur further costs later down the line.
If we take an average of a 15 sqm garden project, and materials for an entry-level range of composite decking, the estimated cost including fixings, clips, joists, posts, and labour comes to between £124.50 to £154.50 per sqm, depending on project style and design.
As with many home and garden renovations, labour costs also account for a large proportion of the overall cost.
Is composite decking slippery?
Composite decking is broadly slip-resistant and fares better than wood, as it doesn’t absorb water in the same way. Testing the way you lay your boards will help support a better slip-resistant performance over its lifespan: running the boards horizontally from the house or the footfall area will increase your decking area slip performance.
Composite can still become slippery if a build-up of algae or mildew occurs, but with regular removal of leaves and dirt, and a soft brush with warm soapy water each autumn, this is easy to avoid.