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Information about Composite Decking Boards WPC

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Composite deck boards are manufactured using two types of waste. Wood, in the form of sawdust or fibres and plastic from recycled bags or bottles in the maim. Sometimes, the wood used is not actually waste, but is 'pulverised' to size from virgin wood.

The finished product is now often referred to as WPC. Wood Plastic Composite - or if you want Wood Polymer Composite. They are both the same, but 'polymer' has s slightly better 'image' than just plastic!

It is not correct to think of Composite decking as being a substitute for wood. It is very different to wood, and better described as being an alternative to wood. In all respects it looks like wood decking - rather than plastic decking. Pure plastic decking is different.

Wood Used in Composite Decking

The wood element normally consists of wood fibre waste in the form of sawdust of varying dimensions. It normally accounts for at least 40% of the board's content, with the remaining proportion being plastic in one form or another. The sawdust can either be hardwood or softwood - depending upon manufacturer.

The wood content of the composite deck boards does not give it the appearance of being timber decking. The appearance is governed totally in the manufacturing process - extrusion!

Wood could be construed as being the week link in the process, for once it gets wet, it is susceptible to size change, decay, and fungal infection. The plastic element described below, shows how this is rectified or dealt with.

Plastic - Polymers - Polyethylene

The plastic element, basically holds the wood fibers together, and helps to form the protective outer of the board. The plastic is normally derived and reclaimed from the recycling of plastic bottles - rarely plastic bags! Without the addition of the plastic, then an adhesive would have to be used - such as is the case with the composite boards used in furniture and kitchen top manufacture.

(Those 'furniture'  are then laminated either with real wood or vinyl to give them the requited appearance. They do not need to be as strong as deckboards - neither are they generally places outside to put up with various climatic conditions. I am sure that most people will have seen the result of a sodden bit of furniture board. Once the glue has melted, then it more or less reverts back to being sawdust!)

Not so for composite decking. The plastic element does not melt - neither does it degrade to any extent. Thereby is the basis of outdoor use for composite wood alternative.

There have been problems in the past where the wood part of the composite has become damp through wear of the composite surface, or damage which allows the wet into the board. That is where earlier forms of WPC decking boards have been at fault. Much has been learned - and paid out in law-suits - to prompt the manufacturers to address this problem that once existed.

Polyethylene is also used first time round, for detergent bottles. Milk bottles and jugs, Most fuel tanks for motor cars and watering cans for the gardener. It is interesting to note it's almost universal use for fuel tanks. It is resistant to shock caused in accidents. The feel of a milk bottle or garden watering can, can demonstrate the seeming 'softness'  of the material whilst it's use for petrol tanks is testament to its strength.

Manufacture of WPC Deck Boards.

Deck boards made from WPC are manufactured in much the same way as most other plastic components. They are 'extruded' through a die or mould in semi-molten form to give them the desired shape and texture. (It is similar - though different - to how dock boards are formed. In this case the timber deckboard is put through a milling process that 'carves' the deckboards profile - reeded, grooved or even flat. The process is basically the same. In the timber deckboard process, there is waste - sawdust. In the plastic or WPC process, there is no waste as such.)

WPC deckboard are currently available in lengths up to 6metres.

The type of plastic used, determines many things about the deckboards. Vinyl is hard to the touch, polyethylene is not. Deckboards manufactured using polyethylene (old plastic bottles) have a softer feel. Certainly not a hard plastic feel! They are pleasing to walk on. 


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