In recent years timber decking has been extremely popular for creating stylish patios and seating areas. Still, many homeowners have soon tired of the constant chore of clearing away mold and reapplying wood staining products to keep it in good condition. There can also be concerns about the environmental impact of using extensive quantities of softwoods such as cedar and spruce or imported hardwoods, including Indonesian Merbau and African iroko. However, the introduction of an eco-friendly composite decking board that has the appearance of real timber but requires virtually no maintenance has been quietly transforming many outdoor spaces into a beautifully elegant seating area.
Why is Composite Decking Boards Eco-Friendly?
The elements that are used to manufacture this type of decking board are all completely recycled. Polypropylene or polyethene plastic products such as single-use water bottles that might otherwise be destined for a landfill site are recycled and ground into a powder before being mixed with a variety of natural ingredients. These primarily include waste products from within the timber industry such as tree bark, sawdust, and wood pulp but they can also include bamboo and peanut shells. When ground into a fine type of flour, the timber remnants are mixed with the powdered plastic to create a durable new material known as a wood polymer composite (WPC) or fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP).
What Binds the Fibres of a Wood Composite Material?
The fibers of wood pulp within a tree trunk are naturally held together by a substance known as lignin. It is a tough, organic polymer that provides strength, rigidity and is fairly resistant to rotting. The fragments of lignin found in each of the particles from the waste wood are further enhanced by the addition of PVC binders or adhesives to form a board of incredible strength and durability. The binding agents, together with dyes of various colors, account for around 5% of the finished product.
How a Wood Composite Benefits from Natural Elasticity
The structure of the lignin fibers with their strong, natural elasticity react perfectly with the PVC adhesive binders used in a wood composite to create a material that combines both strength and flexibility. The complex matrix formed between the individual fibers of lignin, PVC adhesive and the finely ground particles of the composite’s raw ingredients is effectively distributed, spreading the weight evenly within each board. Although a wood composite is reliably rigid, its composition ensures it has internal flexibility that resists splintering when being cut, drilled or sanded. It also provides each panel with a natural elasticity that is highly resistant to warping or cracking when subjected to heavy wear or extremes of temperature.
Naturalistic Textures and Designs
When the finely ground ingredients of a wood composite have been blended into a thick paste, it can be used with molds to create planking that imitates authentic timbers. Detailed textures that are precisely like the grain of the traditional timbers used in wooden decking can be incorporated into the surface structure. The overall effect can be so realistic that it is often hard for even a trained eye to tell them apart. With the combined use of intricate patterns and coloring, composite boards can mirror the grain of timbers such as tropical teak or exclusive Indian sandalwood that might not normally be available for decking.
The Advantages of a Wood Composite Board
Real timber decking has the longevity of around fifteen to twenty years providing it has been diligently looked after, but a wood polymer composite has a much longer lifespan of between twenty-five and thirty years without any maintenance being required. An occasional wash with water or a recommended cleaning product is all that this type of decking material should need to ensure its elegant appearance is maintained. It is resistant to mildew and mold and is not subject to attacks from rodents, insects or bacteria. A wood composite repels moisture and performs excellently in extreme temperature ranges from around -50 to +80 degrees Celsius.
Why Choose a Bamboo Composite Board?
Some years ago, experiments with decking made of pure bamboo proved it to be a relatively unstable material with both limited qualities and a short lifespan. However, further experimentation found that when the very fine, dense bamboo flour was mixed with ground plastic, it created a composite of superb durability. A bamboo composite is heavier in weight and has a much closer texture than its wood composite rival and provides it with up to three times the strength. It also displays an excellent performance against moisture absorbency, which means bamboo is often the preferred choice in damp weather conditions or around pool areas.
An Extensive Range of Designs
The flexible consistency of the composite paste allows manufacturers to produce a wide range of intricate designs. Apart from lengths of composite planking which can be solid or have a hollow interior, the material can be formed into curved structures, archways, balustrades and railings which all resemble real timber. The composite material is UV stable, so any coloring won’t fade even if placed in direct sunlight, ensuring the appearance of a patio stays effortlessly stylish for years to come. It can become quite warm to the touch in an area without some shade, but choosing a light color will help to deflect the heat of the sun’s rays.
Quick and Easy Installation
This type of decking is much easier and faster to install than traditional wooden decking. It is usually manufactured with grooves along the edges that can accommodate specially designed metal fasteners that ensure each plank is at the correct distance from the adjoining one to account for any thermal expansion and prevents warping. The fasteners are hidden beneath the decking, eliminating the need for unsightly screws or nails. With the natural materials enabling easy trimming, the result is a beautifully flawless surface finish.
Choosing Eco-Friendly Composite Decking Boards
When investing in a decking board for a new patio, choosing an eco-friendly composite has many advantages in addition to making use of recycled materials that might otherwise be wasted. The texture has all the realism of authentic timber with the added qualities of a slip-resistant surface that is weatherproof, retains its color and eliminates the need for a rigorous maintenance regime. Installing a patio made from composite decking board repays any investment with effortless maintenance and ensures an elegant appearance for many years to come.