What Composite Decking Is Really Made of and Why It’s Better Than Wood

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Composite decking has grown in popularity over the years thanks to its durability, low maintenance, and more. However, it’s important to know that not all composite decking is the same. The components that make up one composite deck will surely differ greatly from those of another. So before installing a new composite deck in your yard, take the time to understand what it’s actually made of—and why it’s ultimately better than wood. 

What’s in Composite Decking?

To put it simply, composite decking is created from a mix of wood fiber and plastic. This blend often comes from recycled materials, too, which makes it a particularly eco-friendly choice. Composite decking is often treated to help prevent rotting, mold, mildew, and more.

  • Fact: DuraLife’s composite decking is actually made with up to 90% recycled content sourced from post-industrial and post-consumer material. All of the raw material used to make the hardwood “flour” of DuraLife composite decking—the sawdust, wood chips, and wood fiber—is sourced from within 500 miles of its manufacturing facility in Maine, too.

DuraLife’s blend of reclaimed hardwood fiber and rugged, UV-stabilized polypropylene plastic (PP) is also a unique formula that provides more stability and better performance than composite decking that is made with other types of plastic, such as polyethylene (PE) or PVC. In fact, DuraLife was the first composite decking manufacturer to use polypropylene instead of polyethylene, and also the first to introduce a capped composite decking product. Polypropylene (think Tupperware or red gas cans) makes it stronger, stiffer, and harder than other composites, so it can span longer distances and withstand higher temperatures with less expansion and contraction.

Composite vs. Wood

While composite decking is eco-friendly, it’s still not a natural material like wood. However, it’s easy to install and clean, durable, low maintenance, and lasts a long time—and that can’t really be said for wood. Unfortunately, wood decking is just not meant to last forever. And it’s sure to have natural imperfections, like splinters and knots, which may not appeal to homeowners.

Maintenance

With wood decking, there’s the chance it may fade in color, requiring another coat of paint, stain, or sealer, as often as every one to three years. You’ll also have to keep an eye out for mold, fungus, and mildew with wood decking. All of this upkeep can add up and cause pressure treated wood decks to cost more than composite decks in the long run.

On the other hand, composite decking won’t need any maintenance beyond the seasonal cleaning. DuraLife’s composite decking is stain, fade, and mold-resistant, so there’s no need to refinish it every few years like there is with wood. This also helps it last longer. While wear and tear might take a bigger toll on wood decking, composite decking can last for decades. If properly installed and maintained, DuraLife’s composite decking 25-year warranty covers rotting, structural decay, splitting, checking, splintering, and even termite damage under normal conditions, use, and exposure.

Cleaning

Composite decking may require a little sweat equity every few months, but it’s easy to clean and care for. Simply dry sweep the deck with a bristled broom to rid the surface of any debris and to keep the space between deck boards clear. And if you accidentally spill something like ketchup during a barbecue on the deck, just use warm water and non-bleach dish soap and a sponge to remove it. Because wood is more porous, it’s susceptible to stains, and that could make cleaning it more difficult, and may require more frequent care.

Installation

Composite decking is also often made easy to install. For example, DuraLife’s Step-Clip fastener technology can help cut installation time by up to 50%—making your dream deck a reality that much sooner. According to HomeAdvisor, a wood deck could take up to three or four weeks to build, but with composite decking technology, you could be sitting pretty that much sooner.

  • Fact: many composite decks are moisture resistant, so they can be installed in high moisture conditions without decaying. Since wood is susceptible to fungus, mold, and mildew, it may not be as durable in high moisture environments.

Surface Temperature

Wood decking may stay cooler in the heat of the sun than composite decking, but it can still get hot. However, composite decking can withstand higher temperatures with less expansion and contraction. One contractor even tested it out and found that DuraLife’s composite decking is one of the coolest deck boards on the market. It doesn’t get as hot as other composite decking materials because it has a polypropylene plastic cap, which doesn’t heat up as much as other plastics, like polyethylene or PVC. This makes DuraLife one of the best composite decking brands for hot weather regions.

The Bottom Line

Wood may be a natural material that is known for staying cooler during even the warmest weather, but composite decking is truly a contractor’s and homeowner’s dream. It’s easy to install, low maintenance, and can last for years. Composite decking is also eco-friendly, with its makeup often made from recycled wood and plastic. Order samples of DuraLife composite decking to see all these benefits and more for yourself, and then get ready to build the perfect deck for your home.