What to Look for When Buying Composite Timber Decking
With an increasing number of composite timber brands coming onto the market, choosing the right decking board is no longer an easy decision. While price often plays a major role in the purchase decision, it is important to know just what you are getting. So, here are some tips to help you choose wisely and get value for money:
- Beware the Sales Pitch
On the internet, you will find some products touted as the best in the world, which is a bit of “poetic licence” for marketing purposes. Clever marketing strategies also include using terminology like “less prone”, which is not the same as “resistant.”
Everyone is going to tell you their product is the best, but it pays to do your research and make some comparisons. Don’t take everything you read at face value. If a website tells you one thing, then you read dozens of negative reviews stating the opposite, take heed.
Just 5-10 minutes of your time can save you a lot of wasted money and heartache down the track.
- How Long does their Warranty Last?
Go to the website of the board brands that have attracted your attention and read their warranty.
Some boards, while they may look great and may be more in line with your budget, may only give an 8, 10 or 15-year warranty. Are you prepared to possibly replace those boards so soon? Can you afford to do that?
Look for brands that offer a 25-year or more warranty. You may pay a little extra up front, but in 10 years’ time, you will be glad you did.
- What Does the Warranty Cover?
The top-quality brands will cover more in their warranty than the cheaper brands.
For example, one “uncapped” (unprotected) brand’s warranty is explicit in what it will not cover and specifically mentions damage by high heeled shoes and pets in their fine print, but does not mention this in the marketing on their website.
Some boards are not covered for fading, or they consider a 10% fade acceptable. The better-quality brands have committed to manufacturing boards that will not fade from UV and weather exposure, as measured by a colour change of more than 5 Delta E units (a scientific method of measuring fading, with the rating from 0 to 100 Delta E units.)
You do pay a little more for these higher-quality boards, but consider this: if you buy deep chocolate-coloured boards today and then in a few years they’ve faded to light beige, would you be disappointed? There are other things to look out for in the warranty, too, such as whether labour is included in the warranty if the boards need to be replaced?
- Do the Composite Decks Need Sealing, Painting or Major Maintenance?
Let’s face it, you buy a composite deck not only because it is environmentally-friendly but because you don’t have to do the regular time-consuming and money-hungry maintenance on them as you do with natural timber.
However, there are some cheaper composite brands that do not protect their boards with capping and you do have to seal or paint them. These brands are obviously not low-maintenance and never will be, so they are cheaper for that reason.
Look for brands with “capping”. Some brands only cap the top or the top and sides of their boards, leaving the bottom uncapped and unprotected. Some brands, like NewTechWood, completely cap all four sides of their boards with a special engineering grade polymer shield that is strong and durable. Using a co-extrusion process it is heat pressed onto the core, creating an impermeable protective barrier against moisture, UV, insects and bacteria.
- Do you Need a BAL (Bushfire rated) Board?
Many composite brands do not have a BAL rating, particularly the cheaper brands.
The top-quality brands offer a BAL29 rating which is suitable for all bushfire zones up to BAL29, which is only one below the highest rating you can get of BAL40 (not including the Flame Zone itself!)
If you live in a bushfire zone, your local Council or builder will be able to tell you what zone rating is applicable and you will need to buy composite decking that has the appropriate rating. Any board with a rating less than BAL29 will limit where you can use it in non-metro, rural areas.
- Check the Reviews
If a brand only has one or two negative reviews, keep in mind that sometimes perceived “faults” are due to defective installation or owner mis-use, and may not have anything to do with the board itself.
On the other hand, if a brand has many complaints, there may be reason to proceed with caution. Most common complaints appear to relate to water damage, flaking and fading which occurs on many uncapped boards.
Also check the response from the manufacturer or distributor to complaints. This will tell you a lot about the reliability of the product and the people who stand behind it. Some companies don’t want to know if something goes wrong with their product, while others will bend over backwards to put things right for you.
Common Sense Clause
Everything we use in life will mark, scratch, fade, or show signs of general wear and tear over the years… except for diamonds… But unless you are going to cover your deck in diamonds, whether you use timber or composite decking, at some stage, it is going to lose its brand-new lustre, depending on how much use and abuse it receives, weather conditions, etc.
People often ask, but what about dogs? Well, is your dog a Great Dane or a Chihuahua? Will it be romping on the deck on a daily basis, or just passing over it once a day on its daily walk? Will the board scratch? Well, is the board capped, for starters? Everything you own is scratchable – but capping gives you extra insurance.
And on that note, why not check out why NewTechWood is one of the most popular brands in the market today. It’s fully capped, looks like natural timber, has a BAL29 bushfire rating, and among a long list of plusses, it offers a 25-year warranty. But don’t take our word for it – check it out yourself here!
For more information on NewTechWood’s top-quality decking, contact our friendly team today.