Composite Deck Boards

Composite decking brands say their products are reliable, mimic the look of real wood, and are maintenance free. When you search online, you'll probably find many homeowners who have something different to say.

Despite the fact composite deck boards are made from recycled plastics and wood fibers reused materials, you might not think it's as eco-friendly the claims suggest.

Many brands of composite decking are:

  • Composed of recycled plastic & wood fibers
  • Fused with undisclosed chemicals by companies who make their product overseas
  • Fade resistant depending on the plastic to wood ratio
  • Only as "strong" as the plastic that's used (bottles, plastic bags vs. containers, jugs)
  • More expensive than hardwood deck materials
  • Riddled with complaints, lawsuits, and government recalls (see below)

How can a product so popular be so problematic?

Wood fibers are soft, porous, and susceptible to mold. If you search online for "composite decking mold," "complaints," and "reviews," you will see pictures and testimonials from actual homeowners. When you search for "composite deck recalls" you'll be shocked to see pictures like the one to the right where decks are literally peeling away. Given the expenses like cost, labor, and maintenance involved with building and cleaning a composite deck, can you say it's the right material for you?

Summary of Reported Composite Decking Problems
Prone to absorb moisture which leads to spotting, mold, and surface decay.
Warranty claims due to mold, etc. can be problematic and time consuming
Expensive and constant upkeep adds additional labor & material costs
If burned, or subjected to hot items, damage could be irreperable
Higher plastic to wood ratio can lead to warped boards. Greater wood to plastic ratio can lead to rapid decay due to milder and/or rot.

Learn more about composite decking alternatives...

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Composite Decking Boards
Severe flaking on a composite deck.
Composite Deck Boards
Mold spots on a composite deck. Also notice the "mushrooming" effect around the screws and the overall plastic sheen.