Is composite decking better for the environment?


With more and more customers asking me about the green credentials of composite, I thought it was time to put fingers to keyboard and get blogging.


Unless you’re Donald Trump, it’s impossible to ignore the growing peril of climate change, so more and more of us are considering the environment when we choose what we buy.


So is using composite for your decking (fencing, gates and balustrades) a greener choice? I’m confident it really is.


Composite – 95% recycled materials

For starters, composite is made from a combination of up to 95% recycled plastic and wood fibres. Composite manufacturers recycle thousands of tonnes of wood and plastic from industrial and consumer waste every year, diverting it from landfill and incinerators.

There’s polyethylene (e.g. plastic milk bottles, grocery bags and detergent containers, shampoo bottles) and wood flour (e.g. scrap such as doorframes and cabinets). The production process is virtually waste-free and the finished product is free from toxic chemicals.

Protecting forests


There’s also deforestation to consider. Unlike real wood, there’s no need to chop down trees to make new composite decking product.


Even though some manufactures are FSC certified, obtaining new softwood or hardwood timber still comes at a high price for wildlife, reducing their natural habitats.


No staining or sealing needed

Staining, sealing and painting obviously involves using (and buying) chemically toxic products. With composite, your decks, fencing, gates and balustrades are ready and fully finished as soon as they’re installed. No need to seal or stain for its (long) lifespan.

Buying and applying toxic seal, stain and paint products is part and parcel of a real wood deck. And to get the best out of it, you’ll need to do it regularly. That means buying more and more harmful substances (as well as more hard work).

Longer lasting than wood

When it comes to long term value, investing in a more durable product is a win for your pocket as well as the planet. Composite wears better than traditional materials and can last more than 20 years with minimal upkeep – often longer.

I’ve done a bit of research to compare the longevity (and pricing) of real wood decking versus composite. Please note, this is for guidance only. There are many different products at different prices, so I’ve gone for average values (correct at the time of writing).

Material

Composite

(Real) Softwood

(Real) Hardwood

Cost per 3.6m Length

£22 - £40

Approx £21

Approx £35 - £40

Lifespan

20 years +

5-10 Years

10-15 Years

Sand, Stain, Paint Costs

NO

YES

YES

Composite doesn’t splinter or warp like wood, so you won't need additional replacement timber. To last as long as composite, softwood or hardwood decking is likely to need replacing at least once (probably twice for softwood), so you’d need to pay again for materials and installation.


Conclusion


Of all the decking options, composite is arguably the most environmentally friendly choice on the market today. It gives you the authentic look of timber with a much longer lifespan than traditional wood and it’s made responsibly, from recycled materials.



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