Your composite decking is a blend of various materials. Composite decking always contains wood of some sort. It also always contains a plastic or fiber glass which is mixed with the wood to provide durability against the elements. While at one time composite decking manufacturers used to say the material was maintenance free, after many lawsuits, today in 2011 they use phrases like "low maintenance" or "virtually maintenance free." So you will need a composite deck cleaner.
How Composite Decking is Made
Your composite deck is made by the manufacturer by taking finely processed wood fiber and mixing it into a thermoplastic matrix for stability and durability. To this mixture are added several additives to stabilize against damage from ultraviolet light, resist damage from insects, and to give the final product a variety of natural wood colors. Your composite decking can be made in solid plank like pieces, or in lightweight hollow sections.
The first time wood fiber was mixed with plastics in the United States was in 1983 when the American Woodstock Company used a 50 percent wood/50 percent plastic mixture to make flat sheets. They were used to form three-dimensional objects used in the interior of cars. By the early 1990s, Trex, an offshoot of Mobile Oil, began using recycled plastic to make a commercial grade composite decking. Since that time there have been vast improvements in the durability and appearance of composite decks.
Manufacturers will tell you that your composite deck is much freer of maintenance than a real wood one. You do have to stain or water treat a wooden deck once a year. This is a tiresome, back-breaking job. With composite decking you can get away with simply cleaning dirt and mold.
Mold on your deck is nothing more than an organic growth. If you live in a shaded, damp area you will find that mold grows very quickly and will discolor your deck. The simplest and least expensive cleaner is plain old chlorine bleach mixed with laundry detergent in water. For persistent stains, follow up with a sodium percarbonate product which is a powder you sprinkle on and leave for several hours before removing. While there are many commercial products out there that claim to be better, they are more expensive and don't do a better job.
- Photo Credit deck with a view image by Bruce Shippee from Fotolia.com
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