Composite wood decking is becoming a popular choice for homeowners because of the fact that it is durable, low-maintenance, and resistant to many of the things that damage natural wood. However, one downside of composite wood decking is that it is, on average, heavier than traditional wood decking.
Why Is Wood Composite Heavier?
The reason for wood composite decking’s weight advantage over it’s more traditional counterpart, timber decking, is due to how it is made: Composite wood is made by mixing wood fibres and plastic-based resins, which naturally make the material heavier (similar to dipping a sponge in water would naturally make it heavier). The process of making a wood composite also leaves us with a wood-like material that is often denser than natural is (due to wood’s naturally occurring air pockets) which also increases its weight in comparison with traditional timber.
It is for the above reasons that wood composite planks weigh on average approximately 20% to 30% heavier than normal wooden planks do (this can vary depending on the type of wood composite and the type of timber being compared).
There are, however, exceptions to this weight difference: there are, for example, wood composite that is built with lightweight fillers to reduce the weight, and there are certain hardwoods (African Blackwood for example) that are much denser than a lot of other types of hardwood. It thus would not be accurate to say that “all wood composites are heavier than all traditional wood types” but on average it is heavier.
Weight Doesn’t Have To Be A Problem
Due to the weight of wood composite decking it needs more support than regular timber when being installed in high-traffic areas. The reason for this is that it tends to sag or buckle under heavy, frequent traffic.
When using wood composite for a high-off-the-ground deck, it is important to be mindful of its weight. The wood composite’s support and that support’s foundation need to be carefully considered and should be designed with the weight difference between wood and wood composite in mind to ensure a safe construction.
One should also ensure that large amounts of dirt, water, or snow do not gather on top of wood composite decks seeing that it will further the chances of the wood composite bending and warping under the weight. This is, however, also recommended to keep in mind with regard to regular wooden decks.
Try your best to avoid the following rookie mistakes. Not considering these things could result in heavy damage to your deck and the surrounding buildings/environment.
Don’t Use The Wrong Fasteners
When installing wood composite decking you should be mindful of the fasteners you are using. Since wood composite is a very different material compared to regular timber – and since it is generally heavier – they require special fasteners that can hold their weight without damaging the material.
Be careful not to overtighten the fasteners of your wood composite deck. Because of its weight and the rate at which wood composite expands due to heat; The wood composite is more likely to crack or split when its fasteners are too tight.
Don’t Forget The Support
When installing wood composite decking, it is very important to ensure that you have the proper support. You should install support like a joist hanger for example to ensure that your deck has the right support for the weight of its planks – without proper support wood composite decks can sag or even collapse under its own weight and the weight of foot traffic.
Tips To Avoid Disaster
Hire a professional: When you want a wood composite deck installed it is always better to hire a professional who should know exactly what to do and what not to do. Of course it is possible to install wood composite decks yourself, but using a pro is generally an easier and safer option.
Look for manufacturer instructions: Finding the proper installation instructions and general guidelines from your wood composite deck manufacturer and following it is recommended. This will minimise the risk of damaging your deck during the installation process as well as damaging it over time with an improper installation and improper care.
Ensure that you don’t make rookie mistakes: Keep in mind the rookie mistakes mentioned earlier, as avoiding these at all cost will massively improve the chances that your wood composite decking will remain strong and in pristine condition.
In sum, wood composite decking is heavier than traditional wood decking, seeing that wood composite is made with a mixture of wood fibres and plastic resins which weigh more than natural wood. This weight difference is usually between 20% and 30 % depending on the type of wood composite and the type of natural wood being compared.
Thus, we must take extra care when installing wood composite and ensuring that it has the support it needs – especially when installed in a high-traffic area. There are steps you can take to ensure that your deck has everything it needs to remain structurally sound.