Composite decking is the best alternative to wood decking. It is made of recycled wood fibres with recycled plastic. This gives the decking material some advantages over natural wood.
In the recent past, there has been an increase in the number of businesses that have been decking solutions using composite railings in the UK. As many residential and commercial entities start appreciating the benefits of using composite materials, there are a number of problems that these firms face in the UK. Here are some of the problems.
Uptake of Composite Materials is Still Low
Most prospective customers are warming to the idea of using other materials for their decking apart from wood. There have been several myths and misinformation about the materials especially regarding their strength and general durability. While these companies continue to create awareness, the market is still not as big as that of the wooden decking. Therefore, a good number of such companies do not have enough orders to get by in the UK. Luckily, as customers warm up to the solution, it is expected that the market will grow exponentially in the near future.
The UK has not updated most of the laws regarding building codes and standards to incorporate composite materials. Most of the codes are based on known materials such as wood and steel. This causes confusion as companies try to get licenses to build decks in various areas of homes and building facilities. It would be better if there is a standardised regulation on the use of composite materials across the country. Not only would it increase intake but it would also get rid of substandard materials that may be making their way into the market and eroding the user confidence.
There should also be co-ordinations and centralisation of testing and standardisation of composite materials. This would make it easy and fast for new decking technologies getting into the market to get certification. This would help drive innovation.
Inability to Replicate Some Hardwood Products
Some customers are looking for the feel and natural patterning of the traditional hardwood decking. While there has been a great improvement in the quality and ability to replicate natural wood patterns, it is still a challenge to replicate some premium wooden grains in composite railings. This denies customers the authentic look in their decking. Luckily, it is believed that the advancement in technology will eventually make it possible to replicate any hardwood pattern into composite railing. However, before then, customers will have to contend with the limited options available.
Costs of Installation
Even with the cost of regular repairs and replacing rotten wood being factored in, composite materials are way costlier than treated wood. Most homeowners make improvements in their homes with an eye on the resale value of their home should they decide to sell it. While the use of composite materials increases the value of the property, property buyers may not be willing to factor in the high cost of ultra decking into their purchase prices. This has led to low uptake of the composite materials for use in decking.
Being a rather new concept in decking, the cost of production, along with the estimated lifetime of the composite materials, has been pushing material costs upwards. This cost is transferred to the final consumers with the effect on uptake, as discussed above. Advanced production technologies may be the only way to lower the production cost.
Wood is still Part of Composite Deck Construction
Unfortunately, composite railings are constructed on treated lumber frames to enhance the stability and durability of the decking. Wood is used to construct joists, beams, stair stringers and posts. This has lowered the view that composite materials help in saving forests. If the treated wood gets damaged from rot or any environmental degradation, the deck will have to be repaired. There are composite materials that use lots of recycled materials in their construction. However, this is not an industry standard and does not give decking companies using it a marketing advantage.
This problem is faced by many businesses operating in the UK and not just those that are in the decking business. Since the Brexit referendum was held, there has been uncertainty on the direction the country will take, especially due to the many unsuccessful back-and-forth discussions with the larger European Union. This has resulted in an increase in inflation, decreased consumption and lots of anxiety in the marketplace. Decking companies are feeling the pinch too. Businesses are facing low uptake of their products, leading to low revenues. Until the matter is concluded, lots of shakeups in the decking market and consumer market at large will be experienced.
Repair Problems with Composite Decks
One of the advantages of wood decking over the use of composite materials is the ability to refresh and repair problem areas of the railing without having to replace the entire plank of wood. While ultradecking.co.uk is more long-lasting than the wood type, it tends to fade over time due to weathering, UV rays and foot traffic. You may also find a few scratched and gouges on the surface. It is not possible to repair any of these issues without replacing the entire individual board. If you do so on an aged deck, there would be uneven shades as older planks would have lost some of their colour. Composite decking firms have not yet found a way around this problem, and this has affected the uptake of the product.
Despite the challenges and hardships in delivering composite solutions to decking needs, the overall market has been growing tremendously in the UK. The durability of the materials, low maintenance costs and ability to mimic various patterns have continued to pull many customers to the solutions. Many of the challenges are related to the materials itself, but there are geopolitical challenges that have affected the larger market across the UK. Overall, decking companies with composite materials are not doing very well, but the market looks good in the near future.