We have put together these composite decking FAQs to assist you with any questions you might have about purchasing AT21 composite decking and whether it is the right product to use with your composite decking project.
Q: What is the appearance of AT21 Composite Decking?
A: The majority Composite decking has a similar appearance to wood but without the grain.
It is an alternative to wood, just like paving slabs are. It’s a new form of decking, not a wood substitute. Composite decking is tough and durable and has a quality feel.
Q: What is AT21 Composite Decking made from?
A: Most Composite decking is wood fibres (re-claimed from saw mills, i.e. top quality, kiln dried material) and polyethylene.
Other ingredients are a high quality colour pigmentation system, a wetting/bonding agent and a high-tech ultraviolet light inhibitor package.
Q: Are AT21 composite decking boards hollow?
Q: Can you screw and nail it like you can with wood?
A: Yes, screws just like wood will it also has better screw/nail retention than wood; nails will pop out over time. (manufacturers recommend screws rather than nails.)
Q: Can you use normal wood working tools?
A: Yes, no specialist composite material equipment is required, you can even saw it by hand. You can use the same tools and equipment as you would on wood
Q: Will it fade over time?
A: There will still be some fade visible over the first few months (the speed of this fading dependent on the weather conditions) giving a more textured appearance.
Only the wood fibres fade, the plastic content holds its colour. Any initial colour difference between boards is due to the natural colour variance in the wood fibres and once weathered, the boards will all be a similar colour tone.
The most weather resistant colours are Darker variations Grey, Dark Brown and Black
Q: Can you use it for load bearing applications (i.e structural)?
A: Same as you would not use certain types of wood it is not recommended to use composite decking boards in structural applications although it can be used, it’s a job best left to a structural engineer to design any load bearing structures.
Q: Can you paint / stain it?
A: Yes but is not necessary. Composite decking is a low maintenance product and by painting it you making work for yourself.
If you have an overwhelming desire to paint or stain it, it will take oil based or epoxy based paints and stains very well.
The only downside to painting it is that it will need re-painting periodically just like wood does.
Q: Can you bend it?
A:It can be heated up and bent, but this is a job best left to a professional installer or done at the factory during the production process.
Q: Is AT21 composite decking boards fire retardant?
A: Not all manufacturers have published fire retardant information the standard is BS EN ISO 11925-2 2010.
NB. Some solid composite decking products with no air pockets inside (unlike wood) will require an industrial type flame to ignite, and when it does catch, if the heat source is removed from it, it will self- extinguish very quickly and will not drip molten material like plastic does.
Q:How do you repair it if it gets damaged?
A: AT® composite decking is very tough and as such is difficult to damage under normal circumstances.
If it gets marked or damaged by garden furniture etc., then the marks can be softened and blended back into the deck using either Danish or Tung Oil.
(Please see manufacturers Maintenance Guide for more details.)
Q: How does the price compare to softwood?
A: Initially, AT21 composite decking is more expensive than most softwood decking, but about the same price as a low or middle of the range hardwood.
What you must remember is that due to the reduced maintenance requirement, the life cycle cost of composite decking is considerably less than that of wood decking.
It is a much superior quality material than wood and it is uniform, whereas wood decking is prone to warping, contains knots and inconsistent in density.
Q: What material is used for the sub structure?
A: The most inexpensive option (applicable to free draining, relatively dry conditions only) is to use treated softwood.
The softwood sub structure will obviously become slimy/mouldy over time, but this is usually acceptable as it is not seen.
You can also use a composite sub structure profile which is useful in damp conditions or areas with low air circulation.
In particularly damp conditions where the deck is over 1 metre off the ground, it is recommend the use of galvanised steel box section beams or GRP slim-line profiles.
Q: Does it become slippery when wet?
A: As with the majority of flooring products, composite decking will lose some slip resistance when wet, but still meets the minimum “low potential for slip” requirement as set by the HSE. (In order to maintain adequate slip resistance, it is important you keep your deck clean and free from debris.)
Q: Is there any way of fixing the product without the screw heads showing?
A: We supply a range of purpose made stainless steel composite decking screws that are available in colours to match the decking.
Once fitted, they sit flush with the deck board and are “almost” unnoticeable.
Q: How easy is it to clean?
A: After the composite deck has been constructed, there is likely to be some pencil marks, these can be removed with a normal eraser.
The simplest way to clean the deck itself (which should be done periodically) is to use a power washer and a deck cleaning solution. You may need a sponge or soft brush for stubborn marks(do not use a scourer or stiff brush as this will leave marks on the deck).
Q: What standards does composite decking meet?
A: Check that Wood fibres used comply with FSC & PEFC standards this means the wood used are sourced from responsible producers.