Common problems with composite decking

Are you ready to build your dream deck? Have you determined which material to use to complete your project? Due to the popularity of composite decks, it can leave you stuck with a choice in your decking project. Not fully understanding the issues of composite decking could result in you being dissatisfied with your completed project. We know that you should be completely informed when researching decking project materials. So in this article, you’ll learn what composite decking is and the common problems with it.

What is composite decking?

It is a material that is made from a mixture of wood fibers and plastic. It offers superior performance and longevity compared to traditional wood.

  • Less overall maintenance
  • Many color/design options
  • Realistic wood look

Cheaper than wood when considering long-term costs

Composite decking has many advantages and can be an excellent choice for outdoor entertainment areas. But you still need to recognize its potential drawbacks.

Composite decks scratch easily

While composite material is very strong, it is not indestructible. Dragging heavy furniture or dropping sharp objects can scratch your deck. Some homeowners think that paint can fix damaged composite decks, right? Not quite.

Because of the plastic construction of the deck surface, typical oil-based paints have a hard time adhering to the surface and tend to flake off. To prevent deck damage from occurring, we recommend placing furniture pads or rugs underneath the legs. You can also reinforce your deck with a professional composite deck sealer.

Composite decking requires professional installation

Any incorrect installation can cause the overall project to become disjointed, and the success of the project depends on the professionalism of the workers. While composite deck boards are cheaper and more durable than wood decking over time. But replacing an incorrectly installed deck isn’t cheap. For a missed or poorly cut piece of deck per 1 in. x 6 in. x 8 ft you could lose an additional $50 to $100. In addition to the added cost, improper installation can lead to more structural problems.

Joist warping

As the horizontal structural components that provide support for your deck, incorrectly spaced or warped joists can cause your deck to become uneven. This can lead to a wavy appearance throughout the deck space and potentially create a trip hazard for pedestrians. This is why the joists of composite decks must be precisely placed compared to traditional wood decks. This is to accommodate and support the plastic material of the wood decking.

Improper application of fasteners

Fasteners, once screwed in, hold your deck boards in place. Each composite deck manufacturer has its own fasteners and clips. This means that each manufacturer has an installation guide that specifies which fasteners are covered by warranty and how to install them. Often, contractors who install them incorrectly can cause spacing and safety issues.

Failure to comply with local codes

All decking projects should meet the manufacturer’s specifications. This means that your composite deck must meet quality standards before it is installed. If your contractor ignores this and underestimates the deck’s load-bearing capacity, it could lead to deck damage. If your project is planned to comply with local codes and the manufacturer’s installation guidelines, then there is no question of weight-bearing capacity. In short, there is no place for improper or poorly engineered substructures when planning a deck project.

That’s why it’s imperative to find a contractor you can trust with your project. A professional contractor will protect the integrity of your building and ensure that you get the maximum product warranty when materials are properly installed.

Mold Risk

Lower-quality composite decking is more susceptible to mold than higher quality composite decking. As we’ve described, composite decking is made from a mixture of wood flour and plastic. Since it still has a wood component, its surface can become an area for mold.

In some rainy and humid climates, water can seep into tiny crevices, stick to the deck’s wood flour, and eventually harbor bacteria. Additionally, mold can result from an unwashed deck. There are ways to avoid these problems, though. Choosing a high-quality composite, regular cleaning, and inspecting the deck for mold can easily avoid these problems.

Surfaces can’t be repaired

Composite decks are usually made of more plastic than wood fibers, making the surface quite soft. As a result, homeowners will quickly notice that composite decks are more prone to scratches. Patio furniture, barbecue grills, children’s toys, and even dog nails can leave dents in composite decking.

To make matters worse, chisel marks and scratches on composite decks cannot be repaired unless you replace the boards entirely. If your wood deck is scratched, you can sandpaper it. This is not the way to treat composite boards.

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