Is Composite Decking Truly Maintenance-Free?

When you’re in the market for a new deck, you’ll likely notice a lot of the same phrases over and over, especially when you’re looking into composite decking. Typical selling points for composite decking include:

  • Easy installation
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Maintenance-free

Easy installation? Check — composite decking is ready for use as-is once it’s built, as opposed to the extensive prep work for wood decking: sanding, staining, resanding and so on.

Environmentally friendly? Also accurate — composite decks do not require harsh chemicals for cleaning.

Now for the final point — is composite decking maintenance free? The answer is that nothing that is exposed to the elements as much as an outdoor deck can ever be truly maintenance free, but a composite deck is an extremely low-maintenance alternative to a regular wood deck. With a few simple, easy deck care steps, you can keep a composite deck looking fresher and newer for a much longer time.

Does Composite Decking Need Maintenance?

While the answer to this question is technically “yes” a composite deck is the lowest maintenance option that you can select. Let’s first examine the installation and maintenance requirements for a natural wood deck:

  • Upon installation, the entire deck must be sanded and stained
  • Deck must be resanded and restained every 3-4 years in order to retain protection and a fresh appearance
  • Spot restaining may be required more frequently
  • Rough spots may develop, creating a splinter hazard if not resanded and restained

A composite deck on the other hand:

  • Is ready for use as soon as it is installed — no sanding or other processes required
  • Requires only occasional light maintenance to retain a fresh, new appearance
  • Does not require heavy maintenance every couple of years
  • Will not create a splinter hazard

What type of maintenance should you practice to keep your composite deck looking as fresh as possible? A few simple steps, including:

  • Sweep and clear debris: A quick sweep goes a long way, clearing your composite deck of loose dirt, pollen, sticks and other debris that may scratch the deck or interfere with the deck’s fresh appearance.
  • Protect the deck from furniture scratches: This is really a preventative step rather than something you must actively undertake. Furniture scratches are one of the major culprits of deck blemishes but can fortunately be easily avoided. Consider investing in leg caps or other inexpensive protective elements for furniture legs. Accent rugs on your deck may also assist here. Finally, never drag furniture to move it — always lift to move.
  • Clean when necessary: If you start to notice a dirt or pollen buildup on your deck or if it’s seen a lot of traffic from a busy summer weekend, you may want to do a more intensive clean than just sweeping it. Fortunately, a bucket of warm soapy water and a soft brush or cloth will go a long way towards remedying this heavier buildup — no harsher chemicals or deep cleans needed. Be sure to avoid cleaners with bleach, as they may stain their deck. In fact, a bit of dishwashing soap is usually all you’ll need.
  • Spot cleaning for tougher stains: If the grill has seen a lot of action, you may need to spend a bit of extra time getting grease stains off the deck. For spot cleaning, you may want to use a hard-bristled brush, but you typically can still effectively clean with a general household cleaner and a bit more elbow grease. Continue to avoid cleaners with bleach, scrub with the “grain” of the composite material and you should be able to get rid of even the toughest stain in just a few minutes. One further note — avoid using power washers on composite decking, as high-pressure settings can damage the surface. If you do use a power washer, use a low pressure setting with a wide fan nozzle. We recommend that you test before using a pressure washer on a scrap piece even with low pressure as every machine is calibrated differently.

NewTechWood offers an extensive line of composite decking options, including commercial decking and residential decking products. We are here to answer any questions about composite decking installation, maintenance and usage, and we look forward to discussing your needs.

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