Common Decking Problems and How to Avoid Them


It seems that each year outdoor living spaces grow more and more popular. Perhaps as many of us spend an increasingly disproportionate amount of time indoors – staring at screens – the idea of having an outdoor sanctuary located adjacent to our homes becomes more important.

The famous New England writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau was known to spend at least four hours of each day outside – either working in his garden, exploring neighboring woodlands near his Concord, MA home or simply sauntering along ‘absolutely free from all worldly engagements’ as he wrote in his essay, Walking, published in 1862.

Although a finite outdoor space such as a well-made composite deck may not provide the depth of experiences that Thoreau had in mind, it’s still a great place to start. After all, does not a journey of a thousand miles start with a single step?

Composite Decking Safety: One Step at a Time

Still, in order to safely take that first step, the decking underfoot has to be solid. Especially here in New England, with changing weather conditions and wide ranging temperatures, the elements can certainly take their toll on any man-made structure. When it comes to outdoor decking, composite materials will typically hold up longer than wood planking. However, even the best composite decking products are not completely maintenance-free and will require some routine cleaning and monitoring over their lifespan.

Here are some of the most common ailments that can occur to an outdoor composite deck and potentially cause it to fail prematurely.

Staining/Fading – Unlike wood planks, composite decking does not need to be sanded, painted or stained to maintain its quality exterior surface and color. However, not all composite is created equal. Wood composites that contain PVC plastics, for example, are more susceptible than those made with polypropylene to sustain damage from sunscreens, oils and grease, and some types of rubbers. Homeowners should carefully research different types of composite decking materials now available. By using a unique mixture of recycled hardwood, post-industrial and post-consumer recycled content and polypropylene – instead of polyethylene - DuraLife composite decking outperforms other composite decking products on the market today. DuraLife’s 25 year limited stain and fade warranty even includes 5 years of replacement labor.

Heat – Not only is setting a bare foot on a hot deck a painful experience for the person unfortunate enough to do so, it can also make everyone using the deck uncomfortable, too. While its widely knows that darker colors both absorb and retain heat energy longer than lighter colors, certain types of materials are also more prone to heat absorption than others. For example, composite decking made with polypropylene typically maintains a surface temperature that is 15-20% cooler underfoot than one that contains polyethylene.

It’s also because of this excellent thermal resistance that composite decking containing polypropylene will experience much less temperature related expansion and contraction, which can also negatively impact a deck’s longevity. In general, the less that a composite decking product responds to changes in temperature and moisture levels, the longer it will last.

Moisture Damage – When materials such as pollen and dirt are allowed to remain on any outdoor surface, mold can become a growing problem. Allowed to feed on the biofilm, mold and mildew is not only ugly, it can also ruin that surface it has attached itself to.

Earlier generations of composite decking once required the use of harsh chemical cleaners to remove mold and mildew to prevent rot. Newly developed composite materials, such as DuraLife polypro composite decking, instead require only occasional use of warm, soapy water and a sponge to keep the surface looking pristine for many years. The key component to maintaining anything exposed to the elements outdoors is preventing moisture from collecting. By keeping the decking surface free of dirt, pollen and debris buildup, moisture can naturally flow off the surface quickly and easily. Then, any remaining moisture on the deck surface can evaporate naturally into the atmosphere.

So let the shine down on you and your new deck this summer. Just remember to show it a little care and attention along the way and you’ll be sure to enjoy the great outdoors for many years to come. Take the first step now; get your DuraLife samples and let your journey to enhanced outdoor exploration begin.

This article is made possible by DuraLife.DuraLife’s unique polypropylene and hardwood composite decking materials simply outperform all other wood and composite decking products. More solid and safe under foot, DuraLife decking is backed by a 25-year warranty. It is stain and fade resistant, mold and mildew resistant, and is available in the colors and deck railing options you want. Get Samples, try our Composite Deck & Railing Visualizer, or contact DuraLife now to learn more.