Composite wood and synthetic wood has come a long way baby – Top 5 key steps in their evolution

If you’re thinking about adding a new deck, porch other other outdoor structure to your yard, any early research may be a dizzying experience. There are so many brands with so many choices. We’d like to share some of the steps we’ve seen in the evolution of these products.

  1. Rot proof and Termite Proof
  2. Synthetics evolve: low-maintenance please!
  3. Design improvement
  4. Synthetics perform
  5. Synthetics perform even better

Rot proof and Termite Proof

Believe it or not, composite woods were developed over 20 years ago. The formula was rather simple back then. Recycled sawdust was blended with recycled plastic. This “composite” was rot proof, termite proof and environmentally friendly. But, there was no choice of color, no fancy pattern, and the product suffered with mold problems because water seeped into the wood portion of the composite, was held there, and molded.

Synthetics evolve: low-maintenance please!

As time went on and the products became more widely known. Consumers were looking for other features that could be added besides being rot proof and termite proof. New composite woods came to market as low-maintenance products. They still needed to be gently cleaned but did not require annual maintenance. The same is still true today with both composites and synthetics. They neither need to be stained nor sealed and can be easily washed by spraying a hose or with some gentle washing.

Design improvement

New things became important to consumers such as look, texture, scratch resistance, colors, and patterns. Synthetics began to come in a variety of colors and include a variety of patterns such as a wood grain pattern. In trying to incorporate these, manufacturers wanted to change the way boards were made. Many went away from recycled plastic to boards they could specify the quality of. For example, some composite manufacturers began using virgin plastic.

Synthetics perform

With continuous improvements composite boards could now tout better performance. This performance included protection against blistering, peeling, flaking, cracking, splitting, cupping, rotting, and other performance characteristics.

Synthetics perform even better

While the performance had grown in leaps and bounds, there were still 2 performance characteristics that the products did not provide – stain resistance and fade resistance. It’s important to note that we use the word resistance here and when talking about maintenance, we always state low maintenance instead of no maintenance. Anything can be damaged by neglect such as leaving spilled wine on the surface. These products can still be damaged with very sharp objects.

Then a new material entered the market – PVC. PVC boards such as AZEK don’t have any wood fibers in them at all. They are 100% synthetic. These synthetics provided a host of additional performance characteristics including superior stain and fade resistance. They do perform better. The raw material is more expensive and therefore you will pay more for PVC.

Best of both worlds?

More recently, a new type of product is available that has a composite core and is wrapped or capped with PVC. The consumer can benefit from the lower cost that the composite core provides but can enjoy the superior performance that PVC provides.

By now you may have a sense of what type of material may be right for your new deck or porch. The next question relates to which brand to use. To a great extent, this will simply depend on your preference. We can show you samples that show the grains, patterns, and colors to help you make your decision.

Steve FolsomIf you are considering adding a new deck, porch, or other structure to your Kansas City area home, give us a call for a free consultation at (913) 851 – 3325. You can reach us via email at kansascity@archadeck.net.