by Rob Cox, November 24, 2010
Environmentally Friendly Pool Decking
Composite decking material, made by brands such as Trex, TimberTech or CertainTeed have good prospects for the future. According to the Freedonia Group, sales of wood-plastic composite lumber is expected to rise 9% year over year, topping $5B in sales by 2013.
Many pool owners are replacing wood decks with composite decks, covering spalled and cracked concrete with it, or adding an environmentally friendly pool deck to their above ground pool.
Composite lumber is made of a blend of wood fibers and plastic. A 50/50 blend is common, although the use of recycled materials is not universal. Some manufacturers use only virgin plastics, while others are using recycled plastics.
For the biggest eco-gain, look for composite decking made with 100% recycled materials. In addition, look for composite decking made with a high percentage of "post-consumer" recycled materials, like milk jugs and plastic bottles.
Different manufacturing methods can give certain performance advantages. For instance, the way in which the wood fibers are mixed with the plastic material can lead to greater encapsulation and protection of the more vulnerable wood fiber. If wood fibers become exposed to the elements, this will lead to eventual breakdown, rotting or splitting of the lumber. When made with total encapsulation, the wood is protected, and is suitable for use directly on the ground, or in other wet environments, such as around a pool.
Composite decking materials resist splintering, twisting, warping and cracking. The surface is decidedly non-skid and holds up well to heavy traffic or loads. Under normal conditions, wood-plastic composite decking can last 2-3 times longer than traditional wood decking.
With recent advancements in their technology, manufacturers are now producing composite decking that really looks like wood decking. Many colors and textures are now available, with deeply embossed, realistic looking wood grain textures that have the appearance of expensive hardwoods. Darker colors will fade, so avoid a rich red tone, which may fade to a dusty rose color over time.
All-plastic decking materials are available, but they tend to look rather plastic. All-plastic lumber is also more subject to greater thermal expansion and warping over time. It does have the advantage however, of being more stain and fade resistant than a wood-plastic mix. Another option now being provided are composite decking tiles. Mimicking ceramic or stone, composite tiles are a durable and easy surface option for any outdoor space.
So, if you are considering adding or replacing your pool deck, give some thought to using some post-consumer materials for a durable and attractive pool deck. Easy to install, with a wide variety of colors, textures, sizes, wood-plastic composite lumber makes a good choice.
A pool deck is a large investment, so use a material that will last, while doing something that's good for the planet.
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