Two Decades of Composite Decking
Where the industry has been and what’s next
That single word was a family friend’s business advice to recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) in the 1967 film “The Graduate.”
If the movie had come out a couple decades later, that one word of advice might have been “composites.”
Market research shows that wood-plastic composites are now one of the fastest growing segments of the North American decking industry, outpacing growth in wood decking by about 11 to 1.
Manufacturers introduced composite building materials made of recycled plastics and wood fiber in the late 1980s. Composite decking followed early in the 90s. By the new millennium, numerous companies were producing composite decking.
Two overarching trends mark the evolution of the composite decking industry over the past 20 plus years: 1) performance and 2) aesthetics.
With the rapid growth of the composites industry, early on some products came to market that were susceptible to failures – particularly from moisture intrusion. Today, composites’ performance depends to a large degree on how well the individual wood fibers are encased in plastic.
The moisture damage concern has been a key driver of the recent rise of cap-stock composite decking products, in which an outer shell is wrapped around a core.
Moving forward, the next stage in composites’ evolution is boards with caps integrated with the core. Such products hold the promise of enhanced stain resistance, without risk of the cap separating from the core.
Look side-by-side at composite deck boards from 20 years ago with ones from today, and you’ll notice a marked increase in attractiveness. Composite manufacturers have improved the looks of their deck boards with realistic embossed wood grain patterns, and in some cases with color streaking to mimic the beauty of exotic hardwoods like Tiger Wood.
Even young Mr. Braddock wouldn’t have wanted a “plastic” looking deck. With modern composites, home and building owners can now have the good looks of wood decking with the high performance of wood-plastic composites.
Future aesthetic innovations in composite decking are likely to include an even wider range of colors and textures.
Article Provided by NADRA Member, MoistureShield
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