Composite Decking

Learn more about the benefits of composite decking.

For an increasing number of us, a deck is as valuable as any other part of our homes. The number of decks built on homes in North America reached over 4.3 million units in 2004, and the construction of decks on homes has grown at roughly 5 percent per year since 2000, according to a study by Principia Partners.

But when it comes to maintenance, decks built with traditional pressure-treated pine or cedar can be a real pain. They must routinely be cleaned, stained and painted — a time-consuming and expensive process.

Recently, composite decking has grown in popularity. Over the past four years, the number of North American suppliers of composite decking has grown from 15 to more than 30 companies. Because builders and homeowners are beginning to see the benefits of composite decking, this alternative to wood-based decking now represents 10 percent of the decking market, up from 4 percent in 2000.

Composite decking is made from recycled hard wood fibers and recycled polyethylene fibers from items like grocery bags, milk jugs and PVC vinyl. The wood fibers protect the decking from UV damage and add stability. The plastic fibers help prevent rot and splitting, which are common in lumber-based decks. What's more, composite decking never has to be stained or painted, so homeowners don't need to invest additional time and expense to maintain its appearance.

Composite decking is often sold as an entire system, including the deck boards, attachment clips, trim and handrail material. The decking material is typically attached to a standard preservative-treated wood sub-frame. Many composite deck systems are designed to allow easy installation for do-it-yourselfers using standard carpentry tools. Composite decking can be drilled and cut just like lumber.

With more homeowners and builders choosing composite decking, manufacturers are offering improved decking products that have more realistic colors and versatile design patterns.

While the initial cost of composite decking is greater than that of traditional lumber, the investment pays for itself in long life and low maintenance.

For more information about composite decking, visit the PATH website.

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