4 alternative timber decking materials to consider during deck design
When it comes to choosing which is the best decking material for your project, you need to consider whats important to you.
It ultimately comes down to board price, installation time, lifetime maintenance, environmental impact, BUT most of all how the decking boards will look now and for years to come.
We are going give a quick overview of the pro's and con's to using these decking timber hardwood alternatives.
PRO's - has a nice natural appearance. Bamboo as a raw material is considered sustainable.
CON's - Bamboo decking requires just a much maintenance as hardwood timber decking such as kwila, vitex, merbau and purple heart. It is fastened using traditional methods of pre drilling, nailing and punching. alternatively it can be pre drilled, countersunk and screwed. Concealed or hidden fasteners for bamboo decking still require pre drilling so teh bamboo decking does split. Bamboo decking can be very slippery as the surface is very smooth, and if not maintained as required, the bamboo splinters and or the bamboo layers delaminate due to the way its is produced. Bamboo as a raw product is considered a renewable resource however the processes and chemicals required to make it into bamboo decking are not very environmentally friendly. To date there is no bamboo decking recycling methods in place.
PRO's - PVC decking can be very moisture resistant, it is very stain resistant. Very low maintenance. Can be installed with concealed fastners.
CON's - PVC decking is made from virgin PVC materials. PVC materials are not environmentally friendly. Most of all PVC decking looks like plastic decking. It has a shiny plastic appearance and normally has a faux wood grain emboss ed pattern to try to give it a more natural appearance. PVC decking can be very expensive compared to its alternatives.
PVC DECKING & COMPOSITE CO-EXTRUDED
PRO's - PVC composite decking can be very moisture resistant, it is very stain resistant. Very low maintenance. Utilizes reclaimed wood fibre. Can be installed with concealed fastners.
CON's - PVC composite decking is co extruded product. Generally the core of the plank is made from a cheaper wood & low density plastic mix, with a PVC skin on the outside. The skin on the outside is designed to protect the core. It has the exact same plastic appearance as other PVC decking. The PVC skin out the outside is very thin approx. 1mm-3mm and if damaged exposes the cores composite blend and can cause real issues. The core composites are typically made from low density recycled plastic bags and cling film.
VIRGIN PLASTICS COMPOSITE DECKING
PRO's - The composition and color can be very accurate. Can be recycled slightly more effectively that previously recycled composites. Utilizes reclaimed wood fibre. Can be installed with concealed fastners. Can be manufactured in hollow profiles to reduce cost.
CON's - Virgin plastic composite decking can be stained by some oils if they are not cleaned off.Virgin plastic composite decking is considered not friendly to the environment. Unfortunately new plastic materials are used in production when recycled materials could be used. Virgin plastic composites are typically more expensive than their recycled brothers. Some PVC composite decking needs to be surface fastened, requiring pre drilling, countersinking which pierces the PVC skin on the outside.
RECYCLED PLASTIC COMPOSITE DECKING
PRO's - recycled plastic composite decking offers the most natural looking aesthetic of all the composite decking boards options. It utilizes reclaimed wood fibre and reclaimed plastic. Contrary to some beliefs, recycled plastic composite decking can be recycled. Factories often recycle their own waste into other composite products. Composite decking is designed to be installed with concealed fasteners. Composite decking is typically a very cost effective hardwood timber decking alternative compared to PVC decking and virgin plastic composite decking. Can be manufactured in hollow profiles to reduce cost.
CON's - composite decking can be stained by some oils if they are not cleaned off. High density and high quality plastics must be used to ensure weathering capabilities. The blend of plastic vs wood fibre is critical in determining the products ability to resist moisture absorption.