Composite decking has emerged as a popular alternative to traditional wood decking for outdoor spaces. This innovative material offers a range of benefits, from its eco-friendly composition to its low-maintenance properties.

Understanding composite decking is crucial if you are considering upgrading your deck or building a new one.

This comprehensive guide will delve into the definition, composition, advantages, installation process, and maintenance of composite decking, helping you make an informed decision for your next outdoor project.

Composition and Manufacturing of Composite Decking

Composite Decking

Manufacturers craft composite decking from a unique blend of materials, intending to offer the best of both worlds: wood’s natural appearance and modern technology’s durability.

The primary components of composite decking include recycled wood fibers, recycled plastic, and bonding agents.

These materials are combined through a high-pressure molding process, creating a sturdy and long-lasting product.

Now let’s look at these materials more closely:

Recycled Wood Fibers

Manufacturers often source the wood fibers used in composite decking from reclaimed wood, such as sawdust, wood chips, or lumber waste. By repurposing these materials, composite decking helps reduce the demand for virgin timber, making it an environmentally friendly option.

Recycled Plastic

High-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are the two most common types of recycled plastic used in composite decking. Composite decking reduces plastic pollution and landfill accumulation by incorporating plastic waste into manufacturing.

Bonding Agents

The bonding agents in composite decking ensure wood fibers and plastic amalgamation. These agents create a strong, cohesive bond between the materials, enhancing the decking’s overall structural integrity.

The manufacturing process involves blending the wood fibers and plastic with the bonding agents. The mixture is then subjected to high-pressure molding and heated to form solid boards.

During this process, manufacturers can add pigments to create a wide array of colors and finishes, further enhancing the aesthetic appeal of composite decking.

Advantages of Composite Decking

Composite decking offers many advantages that set it apart from conventional wood decking and other alternative materials. Let’s explore some of the most notable benefits:

Low Maintenance

Unlike wood, composite decking does not require regular staining, sealing, or painting. Its durable surface is highly resistant to fading, scratching, and mold, making it easy to maintain and ideal for busy homeowners.

Longevity and Durability

Composite decking’s resistance to rot, insects, and moisture ensures its longevity, providing an extended lifespan compared to traditional wood decks. Additionally, its durable composition makes it ideal for high-traffic areas, withstanding heavy foot traffic and outdoor elements with ease.


By utilizing recycled materials, composite decking plays a significant role in reducing deforestation and plastic waste. Choosing composite decking over traditional wood supports sustainable practices, making it an eco-conscious choice for environmentally responsible homeowners.


Composite decking offers a wide range of colors, textures, and finishes, allowing homeowners to achieve the desired look for their outdoor space. Whether you prefer the classic appeal of wood grain or a more contemporary appearance, composite decking provides versatile design options.


Unlike traditional wood decking, composite materials do not splinter, ensuring a safe and comfortable surface for barefoot walking and outdoor activities.

Fade and Stain Resistance

Composite decking resists fading from UV rays, ensuring its appearance remains vibrant and fresh for years. Additionally, its non-porous surface resists stains, making it easy to clean and maintain.

These advantages make composite decking a compelling choice for outdoor projects, offering a long-lasting and visually appealing solution for any deck design.

Installation Process of Composite Decking

Installation Process of Composite Decking

The installation process of composite decking follows specific guidelines to ensure its proper functionality and longevity.

While hiring a professional contractor for the best results is recommended, experienced DIY enthusiasts can also undertake this project with careful planning and attention to detail.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to installing composite decking:

1. Planning and Design

Begin by planning the layout and design of your deck. Measure the area carefully and create a detailed blueprint, considering any obstacles, existing structures, and the desired placement of stairs, railings, and other features.

2. Foundation Preparation

Prepare the ground by clearing any debris and ensuring it is level. If needed, create a solid foundation using concrete footings or support posts.

The correct spacing of the support structure is crucial to ensure the stability and structural integrity of the composite decking.

3. Installing the Subframe

Create a sturdy subframe using pressure-treated lumber or composite joists, following the layout determined in the planning stage. Use appropriate fasteners and connectors to secure the subframe to the support posts.

4. Deck Board Installation

Begin laying the composite deck boards, ensuring an even and uniform appearance. Leave a small gap (usually around 1/8 to 1/4 inch) between each panel to allow for natural expansion and drainage.

Secure the boards using composite decking screws or hidden fastening systems, which provide a seamless and polished surface.

5. Trimming and Finishing

Use a saw to trim any excess material and customize the size and shape of the deck boards as needed. Install fascia boards or deck skirting to cover the substructure, providing a finished look while protecting the framework from moisture and pests.

6. Railings and Accessories

Install railings and any desired accessories, such as post caps, lighting fixtures, and benches, to enhance the functionality and aesthetics of your composite deck.

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Maintenance of Composite Decking

One of the most appealing aspects of composite decking is its low-maintenance nature. While it requires significantly less upkeep compared to wood, some care is still necessary to ensure its longevity and appearance.

Composite Decking

Regular Cleaning

Periodically clean your composite deck using mild soap or a composite deck cleaner. Avoid using abrasive tools or harsh chemicals, which may damage the surface. A soft-bristle brush or sponge removes dirt, debris, and stains.

Preventing Mold and Mildew

Although composite decking is resistant to mold and mildew, keeping the surface free from debris and organic matter is essential, which can promote their growth. Regular cleaning and proper ventilation can help prevent these issues.

Avoiding Scratches

While composite decking is durable, it can still be susceptible to scratches caused by heavy furniture or sharp objects. Consider using furniture pads and avoiding dragging heavy items across the deck to minimize the risk of scratches.

Handling Stains

In the event of stubborn stains, promptly clean the affected area using a composite deck cleaner and a soft brush. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for stain removal and avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning methods.

Winter Preparations

If you live in a cold climate, prepare your composite deck for winter by removing snow and ice using a plastic shovel. Avoid using metal shovels, as they may scratch the surface.

By following these maintenance practices, your composite deck will remain in excellent condition, retaining its beauty and functionality for years.

Click this article to learn about 12 common problems associated with composite decking.


Composite decking offers a sustainable and durable solution for outdoor spaces. Its eco-friendly composition, low maintenance, and aesthetic versatility make it an ideal choice for homeowners and builders alike.

With resistance to rot, insects, and fading, composite decking provides a long-lasting investment, allowing you to enjoy a beautiful and functional outdoor haven without the hassles of regular upkeep.

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