One of the huge benefits of composite decking is that you don’t have to do loads of work on it to try and preserve its original appearance. Unlike timber decking, composite decking does not need to be oiled, stained or treated to maintain its good looks.
Composite decking is designed to resist the worse effects of the weather - which is great considering how abundant the weather is here in the UK.
That said, most composite decking will undergo some changes in its lifetime, which is what we’re going to discuss here today.
Capped composite boards
Capped composite boards are coated in a durable, moisture-resistant polymer sleeve, which makes them especially good at withstanding all weathers. Our Premium and Supreme decking ranges both feature this super sleeve, making them our most durable and colour-stable products.
Our Premium range comes with a 25 year guarantee and our Supreme range with a 30 year guarantee.
The coating on these boards means that they are much more fade resistant and more UV stable than their uncapped counterparts. This means that fading will be far less noticeable on capped boards.
Uncapped composite boards
The rest of our composite boards are uncapped, which means they don’t have a protective polymer sleeve, and you may notice some changes to the colour over time.
This applies to our Classic, Excel and Rustic decking ranges, and also to our cladding and fencing boards.
Your composite boards are outside in the elements all day, so they have the sun to deal with. As you will have noticed every time you’ve left a book on a window sill, UV rays can have a harsh fading effect.
Fortunately, all of our decking, cladding and fencing ranges are UV stabilised, meaning that the sun’s rays will not have as much of a damaging effect.
Uncapped composite products will naturally fade at first, but will then reach a stabilising point and remain the same colour for the remainder of their lifespan.
UV fading and wood grain effects
Due to the wood grain embossing on the Classic range, you may find this initial fading is more noticeable on these boards. However, the wood grain on our Excel and Rustic decking ranges will not show fading as prominently because of their 3D textured surface.
Because our composite boards are made of 60% recycled wood, they contain tannin, which is the natural, dark brown oil contained within wood. Over the first 8 - 10 weeks after installation, the tannin in uncapped composite decking will wash out when exposed to moisture, in a process known as extractive bleeding.
In cladding and fencing, because of their vertical orientation, this process may take longer, from 8 weeks to around 6 months.
Although it sounds unpleasant, and a little like a medieval medical technique, extractive bleeding is nothing to worry about.
During the extractive bleeding stage, you may notice some stains or water marks appearing on your decking. These are caused by the tannin washing out of the composite and coming to the surface. These marks can be removed with water, but they will disappear on their own after a little time has passed.
During this process, you may also observe the overall colour of the decking growing lighter as the dark tannin is removed. The difference in colour will be greater for lighter-coloured boards, where the tannin makes up a higher percentage of the original colour.
It still fades less than timber
All of our composite products, capped and uncapped, have been designed to be more colour-stable over time than timber, and they will maintain a colour that’s very close to the original without you having to carry out loads of time-consuming maintenance.
They’re also more resistant to weather effects generally, meaning they won’t swell and warp in the way that timber can.
Which product should I choose?
If colour stability is your primary concern, we recommend choosing from our Premium and Supreme ranges. These boards are capped, and therefore you should not see much - if any - colour fading over time. Our Supreme range is the most durable of all, and comes with the longest guarantee.
But all of our products are engineered to live long, happy, healthy lives, with minimal colour fading overall. If you’d like to talk about the options, get in touch with our team.