Libby Smoot, May 25, 2018
Congratulations! You’ve decided on building a beautiful new deck! Not only is it a great way to entertain visitors in your garden, but it also adds substantial resell value to your home, too.
But not so fast! You’re not quite finished yet. You’ve got one more big decision to make before you invite your friends and family over for a bbq: Do you opt for hollow or solid composite decking boards for your patio?
It’s What’s “Inside” That Counts
While both solid composite and hollow composite boards resemble wood, solid composite boards look even more like the real deal. With a variety of grain patterns and timber textures, solid composite decking boards look like authentic wood – a great selling point for homeowners set on achieving the classic look and feel of real wood without the worry of materials warping or splintering over time.
For instance, Trex® high performance solid composite decking boards are a wood-plastic composite manufactured primarily from a blend of reclaimed organic wood and recycled plastic materials. Their core is made from recycled composite materials – such as recycled sawdust and plastic blended with new synthetics. The composite core is covered with a protective wood-look shell that resists warping, staining, fading, and mould.
Conversely, if you’re limited in your budget, hollow composite decking boards give your deck a more manufactured, less organic look – most apparent in the holes on the deck board ends. However, if you’re set on hollow composite, you can get finishing strips as an add-on to achieve a more natural finish.
Going The DIY Route? Weigh Your Options!
If you’re planning on undertaking your own DIY deck project, bear in mind that it’s a labour intensive process. Hollow decking boards can make lugging materials and situating your composite deck more manageable. However, while they may weigh less, hollow boards are crafted for strength – just not as durable as the dense construction of a solid core board.
Whether it’s the weather, normal wear and tear, or you’re in need of load-bearing support for a hot tub, furniture or grill, solid composite boards offer greater stability possible for your outdoor living needs.
No matter what decking material you choose, if you’re planning to make building your solid composite deck a DIY project, you may need a couple of extra hands – and additional considerations. The type of materials you choose dictates what type of framing and fasteners work well with your decking materials.
Getting familiar with decking design basics – like placement of posts and beams -- is one more factor to that can go a long way to building a beautiful, sturdy deck that works well with your home and lifestyle.
Don’t Wither in the Weather
While traditional solid, composite and hollow boards both have what it takes to stand up to the elements, extreme temperatures and moisture may expand or contract the dense material of solid boards over time. For this reason, it is important to follow the gapping outlined in the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
Hollow boards, on the other hand, seem to be more impervious to such fluctuations due to their ability to expand. But that doesn’t mean that hollow boards aren’t without their faults. Because of their lower quality and lower budget material, hollow boards tend to fade, stain, scratch, and are more susceptible to mould than a solid composite core board. From a budgetary standpoint, you may save a little money up-front by purchasing hollow boards, but may wind up needing to replace them sooner and /or more frequently.
Whether you live in a sunny seaside location or a cold and snowy mountain range, it’s important to take moisture and temperature into consideration. And don’t forget that routine maintenance -- while not greatly needed with composite decks -- can positively affect the lifespan of your composite deck.
Paying close attention to the details of choosing the right material can help you build a deck that will give you years of enjoyment – whether you’re using it as a sunny spot for lounging with a good book or having a soak in an outdoor hot tub!
For more information on comparing decking materials, check out our decking materials comparison.