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How Long Does Composite Decking Last?

Composite boards are quickly becoming the go-to option for architects, builders and construction professionals who desire a durable and low-maintenance outdoor decking material. Manufactured from a blend of wood fibres, TerraSmart® Composite combines premium wood-polymer composite (WPC) decking boards manufactured from sustainably farmed FSC wood fibres – recycled plastics and bonding agents, it offers several advantages over traditional timber decking. These include:

  • Lower maintenance
  • Low risk of slip, even when wet
  • Can be a more environmentally friendly choice
  • Strength and versatility.

However, perhaps its biggest draw is its longevity. Construction professionals responsible for large-scale projects involving communal areas, public spaces, commercial and low-rise developments and requiring long-lasting materials will value the benefits of composite. Otherwise, their decks and terraces can quickly become an expensive problem, affecting the lifetime performance of their project, and the overall value of the asset involved.

In this article, we discuss the factors affecting composite decking lifespan and establish how long you can expect it to last.

The lifespan of composite decking compared to other materials

Composite decking is known for benefitting from a much longer expected lifespan when compared to traditional wood decking. While this lifespan will vary depending on the manufacturer, material quality, maintenance and installation, composite decking typically lasts 25-30 years. However, it can go far beyond this if well-maintained. In contrast, wood decks have an expected lifespan of 10-15 years. That means composite decks usually last twice as long as well-maintained timber decks.

Explaining composite decking’s longevity

One of the principal reasons composite decking benefits from an extended lifespan is its resistance to rot, decay and insect damage. Composite decking is not as susceptible to many issues that cause timber to degrade and decompose. For instance, it does not warp, crack or splinter when exposed to wet weather conditions.

Just as importantly, composite decking is resistant to wood-boring insects, minimising the damage caused by the little critters and ensuring the deck retains its structural integrity.

Composite decking retains aesthetic appeal

Composite decking also offers great durability, with protection from fading and staining, in contrast to wooden decking. Traditional timber boards typically require regular staining or painting to maintain their fresh finish and appearance. On the other hand, composite decking often incorporates UV-stabilised materials, which ensures prolonged exposure to sunlight (a regular occurrence for decks and balconies) and does not fade the finish.

Deck maintenance is still important

There is no question that composite decking is one of the lowest maintenance materials available to construction professionals. That said, some maintenance work is required to ensure optimal performance and longevity. 

Generally, composite decking requires cleaning to remove dirt and debris. It will help keep the finish looking its best and prevent scratches and scrapes. We recommend periodic washing with a mild detergent and water and routine inspections to check for any signs of damage. However, always follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations, as composite boards do vary and can require different cleaning regimes.

Installation will affect the lifespan of composite decking

How you install composite decking also affects its longevity. Make sure you use the appropriate components and a suitable substructure to prevent any damage during use. The RYNO TerraSmart® Composite decking system ensures easy installation by providing construction professionals with a selection of compatible components that help you achieve the desired finish.

RYNO composite decking solutions

In conclusion, composite decking can often last twice as long as traditional timber decks and will often last up to 25-30 years. It is resistant to many conditions that weaken timber and cause it to degrade over time, making it an attractive choice for those who prioritise longevity and durability.

While we have primarily compared composite to wood in this article, construction professionals may also want to consider aluminium decking as an alternative. It also boasts a long lifespan – you can expect it to provide more than 30 years of service, should you choose to utilise it.

Aluminium decking is the more costly option but construction professionals should weigh the initial investment against long-term costs and establish which works best. It is a strong, versatile material that is non-combustible, making it the material of choice for balconies, decks and terraces on high-rise residential buildings. In recent years, it has proven a particularly popular choice for remediation projects on buildings that need to be brought in line with new fire regulations.

If you want to learn more about composite or aluminium decking solutions or talk about your specific project requirements, please contact the RYNO team at 0203 9673500 or via our online contact form.

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