Choosing a composite timber for your deck

Posted: July 5, 2010 by DIY Big Boss in Timber Decking / Cladding / Fencing
Tags: , ,

Image provided courtesy of WymanConstruction

The use of composite timber is becoming more popular in Australia, and although there are still more timber decks built, those choosing composite are increasing.

But what is composite timber?

Quite simply it is a product, commonly abbreviated as WPC (Wood-Plastic Composite)  which is made from timber waste and plastic.  WPC is a similar thickness as normal timber, but is printed on the surface with the wood grain.  You can tell that it is not wood by the uniform pattern of the woodgrain.

So why would you consider composite?

Composite timber, is very environmentally friendly given it is made out of recycled plastics and wood waste.  But the major advantage that sees this product getting so much attention is that it doesn’t need painting.  You simply choose the colour you want.  In addition composite timber is moisture and rot resistant which makes it perfect for a deck.  The other advantages include that it is easy to clean, just hose it down and that you can get a nice smooth finish, no nails and no splinters!

But are there downsides?

Of course there are, with all products there are good and bad.  There is quite a debate going on in the industry at the moment as to whether composite timbers are all they are cracked up to be!  Certainly it appears that there are some products which are better than others!

So the negatives of using composite timbers is that you cannot refinish a composite deck, so scratches and stains are there for its lifetime.  If you do want to fix it, you will need to replace it.  The timber is also not structural or load-bearing, so is limited in its use.  The timber can be in some cases soft, so wears easily and is reported to get very hot in direct sunlight. Another issue is that it can expand and contract with temperature variations, and when using it, you need to be careful how you attach it, because going at an angle can cause it to chip.

Summary

Composite timber might be right in some uses, it certainly looks good in the image supplied above where the TimberTech composite decking has been mixed with cedar accents.  But before you purchase any Timber Composite, understand what you are getting, look at the features, find out:

  • How fade resistant are they and how the products are likely to fare in Australian weather conditions?
  • How durable are they, will they wear down quickly and are they stain resistant?
  • What is the lifespan of the material and how long is the guarantee offered with it?
  • How do the materials work, what do you need to know in constructing your deck to ensure you get the best out of the material.

Whether you choose a composite timber or a hard timber product for your deck, check out the material available in the DIY Bargain Bin Timber Decking / Cladding / Fencing.

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