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  • Cost of Installing Composite Decking

    A look at the average costs of installing composite decking in your garden.

    Average Cost of installing Composite Decking

    This job should 1-3 days to complete, depending on the size and complexity of the area.

    £1600

    Composite decking is the alternative to timber decking that is slowly growing in popularity every day. Composite decking is an artificial material made from recycled plastic and wood fibres, held together by bonding agents. Because the materials are recycled or discarded, it makes composite decking good for the environment, as it makes use of waste. The mix of materials is heated and bonded together under immense pressure, creating a strong core that will outlast timber, making it such a popular long term option for garden decking. The material is shaped to form boards that resemble wood panels, along with an outer wood like finish - giving the desired aesthetic of real wood timber. There are many grain patterns and colours to choose from, making the choice of composite that more appealing, as it can add a personal touch to suit your home and garden.

    Initial costs of composite decking can be a bit more expensive compared to wood, however, don’t let that put you off as you will likely see a return on savings over the coming years. Composite decking is growing in popularity year-on-year, because of its low maintenance and durable qualities, meaning you won’t be spending so much money on maintenance and repairs as you probably would a timber decking.

    Average Costs of Installing Composite DEcking

    Job Description Duration Material Cost Labour Cost
    Hollow Core Uncapped Composite Decking 15m2 2 Days £525 £400
    Solid Core Uncapped Composite Decking 15m2 2 Days £900 £400
    Sollid Core Capped Composite Decking 15m2 2 Days £1200 £400

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    Things to Consider When Fitting Composite Decking

    If you’ve decided to add a bit of decking to your garden, then you might be looking at two different materials to use for the feature – real wood timber or composite. Why would I choose composite decking over real timber? Compared to timber, composite decking is becoming increasingly popular year on year among homeowners. The main benefit of composite decking is that it is far more durable than timber, and there is effectively low to no maintenance at all. The material’s durability comes from its plastic composition, therefore it is resistant to a number of deficiencies timber would normally be susceptible to such as any sort of water damage such as damp, rot and the growth of any fungi or algae. The growth of certain organisms such as algae is what cause timber decking to become slippery and a potential health hazard. Composite decking is highly water resistant, and most composite boards have a non-slip grain embedded – reducing the risks of slipping. Whilst on the subject of safety, because of the plastic composition, there is no risk of getting splinters from the boards, which will be a major plus for those with young children.

    Before purchasing your boards, you will have to do a bit of homework and calculate a budget to work with. There are different types of composite decking boards available that come with different features and variable price points. The main varieties are uncapped and capped, along with being either solid or hollow composite boards. At the higher end are capped solid boards, which come with a plastic coating exterior and a solid structure, meaning they are extremely durable, highly resistant to the elements such as sun and rain, and will keep their appeal for many years. Uncapped and hollow boards come in at the lower end of the range. These boards do not have the extra plastic coating, and instead of a solid structure, they contain a hollow or honeycomb-like structure running throughout – this is to give the boards a lighter weight. However, don’t be fooled by the price point, the lower end boards are still highly durable, weather resistant and load-bearing, and are more than capable of lasting for years in your garden.

    The cost of the composite boards will depend on what type you get, bear in mind that whatever you choose will likely be more than that of timber wood, unfortunately. However, due to the long durability and low maintenance, you will save a lot more money in the long run than you would with timber boards. So, if you are willing to spend now to save later, composite decking is the way to go. Another way of keeping the cost down will be to install the decking yourself, thankfully this is should be a simple task for most DIY enthusiasts. Most composite boards feature grooves running down the sides so they slot and can be clipped into place for easy assembly.

    Can you installing composite decking yourself?

    Installing composite decking is definitely the type of job most DIY enthusiasts can tackle by themselves, especially if you have the appropriate tools and experience. If you are thinking of a way to keep the costs of the project down, then doing the job yourself is a great way to do so as you immediately eliminate the cost of labour.

    What you will need to do first is to ensure you have a flat and stable sub-base for your decking. If you already have such an area then you can use that, saving potentially an extra day of work. If not, then you will have to do some excavation and laying down a stable base. You will then need to invest in joists for your decking to lay on. We recommend purchasing composite joists as they will be durable just like the decking. Lay your joists around the parameter of the area, and in parallel rows, leaving a space between each row. The space in between will depend on the angle and the length of your decking, however, you should not really exceed 40cm between each row. You will also need to leave a gap of about 15mm between the joist and any hard surface such as a wall, and 8mm between the joists and any butt joints – these gaps are for expansion due to temperature and proper drainage.

    Before laying your boards, you will need to attach starter clips to the end of each joist. This allows the boards to be placed precisely where you want them without fearing incorrect measurements. To start laying the boards, you will either need to screw or nail them in which can look unsightly to some. Or the recommended way for simpler installation is to use hidden fasteners or clips. These are stainless steel clips that are screwed into the joists and are then used to hook into the grooves of the boards. Repeat the laying of boards right until the other end of the joist framework, and the work is basically done as the clips will hold the boards into place. There are other bits and pieces you can do to give your composite decking that extra finish. If you are using hollow composite boards, then you can purchase caps that clip onto the ends to give it that finished look, this will also stop leaves, dirt and other debris from getting into the inside of the board.

    Composite boards are very simple to work with if you are experienced with woodwork. You can use your wood-working tools on composite boards just as you would timber.

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    Installing Composite Decking Checklist

    • Composite material is much more durable than real wood, and will last you for years to come.
    • Composite boards will keep down maintenance and repair costs in the long term, making for a worthy investment.
    • Composite material is made out of recycled plastic and wood waste such as chippings and shavings, making it environmentally friendly.
    • There are different types of composite baords to choose from - capped, uncapped, solid and hollow.
    • There are many styles of grain to choose from, as well as a nice selection of colours available from manufacturers.

    Hiring a Tradesman Checklist

    • Always get at least 2 quotes before hiring.
    • Never pay the full amount upfront.
    • Get the quote in writing.
    • For any payment you make, always get a receipt.
    • On more expensive jobs, ask for references.
    • Check if the tradesman is a member of any trades associations.
    • Make sure the tradesman has public liability insurance.

    FAQ's

    What is composite decking?
    Composite decking is a man-made material made out recycle plastic and wood fibres such as chippings and any wood waste. Heated and cooled under immense pressure, then shaped into boards, and finished with a timber wood effect to emulate real wood panels.
    Is composite decking slippery?
    One of the benefits of composite decking is its resistance to absorbing water, therefore it does not harbour the conditions for organisms such as algae to grow. It is the algae that makes timber boards slippery when exposed to water over time. Most composite boards will also feature non-slip grain, to further ensure your safety.
    Can you cut and saw composite boards like timber boards?
    Yes, you can. Fortunately, composite materials are made to mimic wood. If you have any woodworking skills, then you can put those skills to use and saw, screw and drill your composite boards to suit your needs.
    Is composite decking cheaper than timber decking?
    The upfront costs of composite decking, compared to timber, are likely to be a bit more expensive. This is likely because of the different materials used and the process to create the composite. Fortunately enough, you are guaranteed to save a whole lot more on repairs and maintenance costs over the coming years than you probably would with timber.
    Whats the difference between capped uncapped composite decking?
    Capped composite decking means it has a plastic coating on the surface and is the more expensive of the two. This is for added protection and durability, the coating protects from sunlight, water and usual wear. Uncapped don't have this coating, but don't be put off, this is a less costly alternative that will still hold up for years to come.

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