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What is composite decking?

Choosing new decking can be overwhelming, particularly when it comes to deciding which material is most suitable for a specific application. From timber and PVC to wood composite, there are myriad choices now available. However, understanding how each is manufactured and from what, especially composite decking, can be just as confusing as choosing the right option. Here Jessica Brown, digital marketing manager at Ecodek, aims to clarify composite decking.

Many people will have a preconceived idea of what a composite material is – made of plastic, unsustainable, harmful to the environment and ugly. However, the reality is quite the opposite.

Wood composite material is a combination of wood fibres, recycled plastics, and bonding agents. For example, our Signature and Heritage ranges are composed of approximately 55% hardwood fibres – reclaimed beech from sawmills – and 45% high-density polyethylene, otherwise known as recycled plastic milk bottles. The remaining ingredients include bonding agents and a high-quality colour pigmentation.

All these materials are heated together, formed into boards, and then cooled. The result is a high-quality, long-lasting composite deck board which has all the beauty of timber but the practicalities of plastic.

Generally, these composite boards are rot and split resistant, so they keep their integrity and appearance a lot longer than traditional timber, and are slip resistant and splinter free, making them safe and comfortable underfoot in any weather. Unlike its timber alternative, wood composite is also virtually maintenance free and only requires an occasional clean to keep it looking its best.

Composite decking is also specifically designed to be extremely long lasting and often comes with an extended warranty, for example our ranges come with up to a 40-year warranty. This is compared to its timber decking equivalent which may last five years.”

Firm foundations

It is not just decking boards that can be made from wood composite. The frame on which your decked area sits, the substructure, can also be constructed from the same composite material. This means that, unlike a softwood frame which may rot within five years of installation, your sub structure will be just as strong and long lasting as your boards and will not fail and compromise the integrity of your new wood composite boards.

Champions of sustainability

It may surprise you to hear that wood composite decking can be the most environmentally sound option when choosing decking. Firstly, it’s composition is usually a combination of sustainably sourced and recycled material. In turn, the resulting wood composite board can itself be recycled numerous times, creating a sustainable life cycle from cradle to grave. Secondly, wood composite does not require regular treatments, the application of which can release toxins into the environment. Lastly, wood composite deck boards are designed to last. This means they do not need to be replaced as often as timber, which helps preserve material and reduces the need for transportation.

The manufacturing process of wood composite decking can also be environmentally sound. Here at Ecodek we strive to maintain a culture of sustainability throughout our business and have achieved a ‘carbon negative’ status to produce our composite decking. We are also currently working towards a Zero to Landfill policy.

Choosing the best decking material can be confusing. However, I would urge anyone who has dismissed composite decking in the past, to give it another look. The advancement of technology and design, means it is now one of the most sustainable, long-lasting options on the market, which makes it perfect for any application.

For further information about wood composite decking or the wider Ecodek range, visit ecodek.co.uk or call 01978 667 840.

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