Does Composite Decking Expand and Contract Like Wood?

A serene picture capturing an oak deck basking in the warm sunlight. The natural beauty of the deck is accentuated by the golden rays of light. As for the keyword, 'does composite decking expand and contract,' this image invites contemplation on the topic. Composite decking, known for its durability and low maintenance, may undergo slight expansion and contraction due to changes in temperature and moisture levels. The picture of this oak deck encourages further exploration into the characteristics and behavior of composite decking materials, providing a visually appealing context for discussing their expansion and contraction properties.

Does composite decking expand and contract? If you’re planning a deck renovation, you’ve probably considered composite decking – and rightly so. It has several advantages over traditional wood, including less maintenance and lower costs. However, a crucial question is whether it exhibits the same movement in response to changing temperatures as real wood. We’ll delve into the details to provide a comprehensive answer.

To begin, let’s look at what composite decking is made of.

Composite decks are manufactured through a mixture of both plastic and wood. Composite woods are composed of industrial by-products such as wooden fiber, sawdust, and chips. Both plastic and wood are from natural or recycled materials.

Bonding agents such as pigments and stabilizers are used in concealing the plastic and wood before they are heated and pressed out into planks having a grain-like design to resemble real wood. Composite decking isn’t all wood.

Does Composite Decking Expand or Contract?

Composite decking boards frequently expand and contract along their length as temperatures rise and fall.

The proper spacing always allows for movement, and some boards can be fitted with concealed fasteners if necessary.

The majority of composite decking has very little expansion and contraction in the width of the board. However, the expansion and contraction of composite decking boards occur along their length. If constructed properly, high-quality composite decking should experience minimal shrinkage.

Why a Composite Decking Expand and Contracts

Temperature changes will inevitably cause composite deck planks to expand and contract. Due to this, the ends of the boards should never be placed close together. Insert a fastener in the middle of each board’s length to prevent movement due to thermal expansion and contraction.

When constructing a deck, one factor to consider is the expanding and contracting of decking materials. Wood fibers expand when wet and contract when dry. It’s different for composite decking.

It’s critical to understand how composite decking expands and contracts. Taking these movements into account facilitates installation, improves aesthetics, and makes decks safer.

How Composite Decking Expand and Contracts

Answers differ based on the environment it is used.

In general, the expansion and flexibility of the boards increase with temperature. It is, therefore, preferable to install composite decking in the early daytime when fastening and cutting are easier.

The distance between parallel boards arranged with side-to-side spacing is hardly rarely an issue. By leaving a small gap for drainage, the deck will be clean, safe, and less likely susceptible to moisture-related issues. You can easily achieve this while maintaining a pleasing appearance by using concealed clips, which will automatically and consistently space your composite result.

Maintaining Your Composite Decking

If you choose to install composite decking, you should know that it requires minimal maintenance. Here are some tips for keeping your composite decking looking great:

Sweep or Blow Off Debris Frequently

Keep leaves, twigs, and debris off your deck to prevent mold and mildew formation. It also helps to avoid stains and scratches.

Deck Cleaning

Wash your deck with water and a mild detergent at least twice a year. You could also use a composite deck cleaner made specifically for composite decking. Avoid using pressure washers or harsh chemicals on the decking because they can damage the surface.

Check for Fading 

Composite decking can deteriorate over time, particularly if exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period. You can reduce fading by rearranging outdoor furniture or constructing a pergola or other shade structures.

Check for Warping or Buckling

If composite decking is not installed properly with enough room for expansion, it can buckle or warp over time. Check the decking frequently for signs of warping or buckling and take immediate action if necessary.

Examine the hardware regularly, and tighten or replace any loose screws, nails, or connectors as needed.

Repair Dings and Scratches

Any decking material is vulnerable to dings and scratches. To repair composite decking, use a composite deck repair kit or composite decking material and a putty knife.

Hiring a professional construction company that specializes in composite decking installation is the best option for a quick, easy, and safe installation.

Precision Decks & Patios is a well-known remodeling company tasked with designing and building your dream home. We offer the best services and value for your money. Call Precision Decks at 616-874-2300. 

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