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How to Care for and Maintain Composite Decking

Most often made from a mixture of recycled wood fibers and plastic, composite decking is a very popular wood alternative material for building a deck. It’s long-lasting, won’t splinter, and requires minimal care and maintenance, which is good for homeowners who don’t want to spend a lot of time on upkeep. What’s more, composite decking comes in a variety of textures and colors that mimic different types of wood stains.

While composite decking does not need much work in the way of maintenance, you should still care for your deck. Doing so will help the material keep its like-new look longer. With that in mind, here are some tips for proper composite decking maintenance:

Avoid standing water

While composite decking is designed to resist water and the rot associated with wood decking, you should still do what you can to minimize standing liquid. Since mold and mildew are common environmental conditions and require moisture, air and warm weather to grow, it’s best to reduce these things to protect your deck. Here’s how:

Ventilate the underside of your deck
When air circulates under your composite decking, the material will dry faster. For this reason, make sure your deck has at least 6 inches of unobstructed airflow beneath it.

“Mold requires moisture, air and warm weather to grow, so reduce those things to protect your deck.”

Redirect dryer vents
Dryers have to ventilate the heat coming off them to the outside of your house. Make sure the vent does not open near your deck, as the heat can raise the temperature of your material and promote organic decay. Not only that, but dryer vents may also spew out moist air.

Watch out for standing water
If, after a rainy day, you notice that water pools in certain areas of the deck, you may need to make adjustments. Rework the deck to promote drainage.

Redirect downspouts
Don’t let rainwater runoff from your roof splash down on your composite decking. Make sure downspouts point elsewhere so the material doesn’t get excess exposure to moisture.

Minimize mulch
If you use mulch in your backyard, avoid placing it against your deck.

Use woven rugs
Don’t use rugs or welcome mats that have rubber backing – these products can trap moisture. Instead, use mats that have a woven back, as they will breathe better.

composite deckingKeep your deck in good shape by cleaning it often.

Regular cleaning chores

By cleaning your deck on a regular basis, you can get rid of debris that may cause organic decay or staining. While composite decking resists stains, marks can still crop up if you don’t adequately care for the material. Make sure to complete these chores whenever necessary (i.e., when dirt or debris builds up):

Unclog gaps in boards
Leaves, grass, etc., can all get stuck in the gaps between your composite boards. If the debris gets wet, it may promote organic decay on your deck. Whenever you notice buildup, use a spatula or putty knife to get the leaves out. Afterward, you can spray the deck with a garden hose to make sure you rinse off anything you initially missed.

Sweep often
Sweeping your deck is easy to do and prevents debris from getting caught in gaps. Make sure to sweep regularly, especially during autumn when leaves fall en masse.

Clean off dirt and salt
Whether from a flower pot or your shoes, dirt may build up on your deck over time. Also, winter might leave rock-salt, which was used to melt snow and ice, on your deck. To remove these kinds of debris, start by sweeping. If that doesn’t get rid of the dirt, grab a gentle scrub brush (do not use metal), water and mild soap. Scrub the dirt away then rinse the area.

Scrub grease
Whenever you spill on your deck, clean it up right away, as this will help prevent stains. However, if you spot grease or grime on the material, wash it using a mild detergent meant to cut through oil.

Do you have any tips or tricks for taking care of your deck?
 

Click here to take a look at our online selection of low-maintenance composite decking. Find the right fit for your outdoor living space.

(9) Comments

  1. We have a beautiful Yakima deck in Richland wa. It is six years old and we have some estream weather and it has faded a little. What would reckamend to make it pop again. We clean it regularly

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Steve,

      Unfortunately if the full deck has faded there is no way to bring the color back. The fading is caused by the extreme weather conditions and the sun bleaching the color out. You may be able to get a composite deck cleaner to help but the color will stay the same. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Donald,

      Thank you for getting in touch! Unfortunately I’m not able to comment on Trex products because I am not familiar with their specific products. I would definitely suggest getting in touch with someone from Trex so they can give you all the correct information. Please let us know if there is anything else we can help out with!

  2. It’s true that composite decking can be very resilient if you care for it properly. This doesn’t mean it’s invincible, however. The list of things to help impede the growth of mold is great advice. Standing water should be cleared as soon as possible after rain. Thanks for the article!

  3. How will this composite decking stand up to 10 inches of standing snow 6 months out of the year? My town is 8,000 ft elevation.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Roy,

      Thanks for your question!

      Composite decking’s combination of wood and plastic fiber allows for a strong material that is impervious to snow and won’t see its color fade or wear down after constant frigid temperatures. Ten inches of snow over six months will be fine. Building code actually requires decks to support more snow than most roofs, so as long as your deck is properly constructed you need not worry.

      Mike

  4. Is there a product or material I can use to fill and repair cracks and gaps from shrinkage in my composite deck?

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Dan,

      Thanks for your question!

      A simple trick is to check underneath your cracked board. If the crack is just a superficial one on the top side you can simply flip the board over and reinstall.

      To fill a crack, you’ll want to thoroughly clean it out, ideally with an air compressor. If that is not available then use a damp cloth and allow to dry.

      Place masking tape on both sides of the crack and plug it with a filler such as RESTORE™ Crack Filler, using a putty knife to press it in. Allow the filler to dry overnight. Once dry, remove the tape and sand the area using a hand-block with 100-grit sandpaper. Apply matching stain to the sanded area.

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