Composite materials can be a great solution for areas of your home that you would like to reduce maintenance requirements. Composite decking, fencing, even shingles can replace traditional building materials while saving the average homeowner money. However, these materials are not always the best solution for the job. Environmental impact, excessive fading, and ease of repair should be investigated before investing in any of these products.
Composite decking is a made of a combination of wood and plastic. Despite the fact that plastic is contained in the material, cut edges and sometimes the surface of the decking contain exposed wood fibers which are suseptable to rot and mold. This decking can have additives such as zinc borate that prevent mold and rot of the wood contained within the product.
Composite decking is often molded into solid planks that resemble real wood. This decking can also be worked with like a traditional wood product, making them easy to install even without prior composite decking experience. However, it is very important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing this product so that the warantee remains in effect.
Composite decking should require little maintenance, but care should be taking with materials that could stain the decking, such as oil, rust, or wine stains. This decking can not be refinished, or sanded down, which means if you get a stain you must replace the entire plank to restore the look of your deck.
Composite fencing is available in shapes and colors that mimic traditional fencing. The fencing often comes with embossed wood grain and in typical wood finishes, such as cedar, oak, or redwood. Unlike wood fencing, this fencing resists carpenter ants and termites as well a rot.
Older versions of the fencing had problems with sagging, but newer fencing models do not have these problems. The composite fencing is hollow, with a light stainless steel core. However, this new engineering means that most of this fencing is significantly more expensive than traditional wood options.
Composite shingles are available in a large selection of styles and colors. They are more durable than traditional asphalt shingles and cheaper than most metal roofing options. These shingles can have some recycled content, normally post consumer plastic, or old tires, but you should check with the manufacturer for the content of their specific product.
Composite shingles are a good choice when you live in a high humidity area or a place that gets a lot of rain. Although mildew or mold can sometimes be an issue, manufacturers have additives that prevent growth of these things. They require very little upkeep; power washing once a year and removing leaves should be enough for most shingles.
Unfortunately these shingles have the same drawbacks as other composite materials. These shingles fade, with no easy way of refreshing or changing the color. Some manufacturers have created composite shingles that fade similarly to wooden shingles, but these shingles may not fit the aesthetic of your home.