Composite timber is a mixture of wood fibers, plastic and a binding agent, which are engineered to form planks and boards.
These ingredients when combined can form a material that is often denser, heavier and stronger than natural timber.
Composite timber is becoming an increasingly popular choice when it comes to decking due to a number of advantages it possesses over standard softwood and hardwood timbers.
The engineered timber comes from the manufacturer as a finished product and there is no need to stain, sand or paint the material.
The composite itself is highly resistant to weather, wear & tear and mould. Manufacturers often claim composites to be more durable than hardwood.
Many brands of composite timber offer long warranties of over 25 years to reinforce the longevity of the material.
Another factor which makes composite timber decking an ideal choice is the environmental impact. It is often made partially from recycled plastic and waste wood minimising the impact on the environment.
Composite timber does have its disadvantages; the durability and convenience of this product comes at a cost and is often much more expensive than regular timber.
Although manufacturers will claim that composite timber is scratch and weather resistant, over time it may begin to show signs of wear.
Unlike regular timber, if a composite board on your deck is damaged, it is not possible to sand back the board.
The entire plank will need to be replaced, which may be expensive. The timber itself may also possess a “plastic look”.
Manufacturers can apply techniques to make the composite replicate real timber, but it doesn't always look as genuine as natural timber decking.