In recent years the hurricane damage has been devastating. If your area has been affected, we truly grieve your losses with you. But we don’t want to see your city experience even more loss. Unfortunately, many boardwalks will be rebuilt with Composite Decking, setting up cities to have to replace them much sooner than expected. Perhaps even more concerning, those manufactured materials will end up at the bottom of the ocean or sitting in landfills for many years. The truth is that real lumber is a better choice. Today, we’ll look at a few more reasons to consider it.
As we mentioned in Part 1 of this series, Composite Decking is essentially made up of plastic. As an oil-based product, plastic does not “play well” with water. They literally don’t mix well. The combined effect (which is obviously going to occur on a boardwalk) is a slippery surface. While some manufacturers try to add faux wood grain or other textures, the issue still exists.
Not only will a boardwalk end up being exposed to water, but it will also weep added oil when subjected to sunlight. Add to that the unavoidable results of beach living: spills of other oily substances, ranging from sunblock to surf wax, and fryer oil to all types of condiments. Slip-and-fall accidents will be inevitable under such conditions. Is that a headache and legal battle that your city wants to face?
Susceptible to Burning
We’ve already talked about how heat affects plastic, as opposed to wood. The toxic gases released as plastic melts can become even more dangerous than you may realize. On a boardwalk, those toxic gases will be combined with grills, deep fryers, and open flames. Fire could easily result, causing the plastic Composite Decking to actually melt! The deformed boards will require replacements, and we all know where the discarded Composite Decking boards will end up. (And let’s not even think about how difficult the remaining sun-bleached boards will be to color-match!) Ipe hardwood decking, by contrast, has a fire rating identical to that of concrete. And it obviously won’t melt.
Not only is the hardness of Composite Decking inferior to exotic decking species, but so is its strength. In fact, if you read the installation recommendations carefully, you’ll see that the recommendation is for 12-inch center joists. If you use the typical 16-inch spacing, instead, you’ll probably experience some bounce as well as deformation. Since plastic has a memory, it won’t spring back after it’s been deformed. The gap between the plastic and the wood flour core will lead to even less strength than before.
Of course, you could potentially make up for the issue of reduced strength by installing your deck on 12-inch centers. But multiply that out over the entire boardwalk, and you’ll probably realize it’s just not worth it.