Wood Composites

Written by Rachel Arieff
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Wood composites are an important new product in the world of decking. They are the result of processing cellulose or wood fibers with plastics to produce a hybrid material that capitalizes on the strengths of both. These composites are used to create decking boards that can perform as well as--or better than--real wood, without the maintenance hassles.

In the past, the choice in decking materials was between pure wood and pure plastic. Wood has always been popular because it is aesthetically pleasing to the eye (and, in the case of cedar, the nose as well). Also, if a good quality wood is used and it is properly maintained, the deck can hold up for many years, and even decades, with very little deterioration.

The Wood Composites Solution

The problem with wood is its high cost, as well as its high maintenance requirements. Today, wood is an overexploited natural resource. As it grows more scarce, the cost rises. In addition, it must be carefully maintained with special sealers and preservatives to keep it from rotting, cracking, or becoming the latest meal for the local termite population.

Many people don't have the time or the desire to constantly maintain their wooden decks. In past years, many of these people went with cheaper vinyl decking materials, which also promised endurance without the maintenance. Vinyl products delivered on this promise with varying degrees of success, but their constant drawback was their obviously plastic look. The new era of wood composites, though, offers homeowners a much more authentic-looking product with better performance than the old vinyl substitutes.

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