Enjoying the sun on your backyard deck is great, but Australian summers can be quite hot. To ensure your deck lasts and remains comfortable, it’s important to choose high-quality decking boards that can withstand the heat without fading, splitting, or warping. Different decking materials, like composite and timber, react differently to the intense sun.
In very hot weather, timber decking can lose moisture, causing it to shrink and potentially splinter. Regularly painting, oiling, or treating your timber deck can help prevent this.
On the other hand, composite decking doesn’t lose moisture in the heat, so it won’t shrink, crack, or splinter like timber. This makes composite decking a safer choice for the summer months.
Heat Storage and Transfer in Decking
Thermal retention deals with how long a material can hold onto heat. Materials with high thermal retention keep radiating heat even after the surroundings cool down.
On the other hand, thermal conductivity is about how fast a material moves heat. Both wood and plastic have relatively low thermal conductivity, but it’s still enough to make your feet uncomfortable on a scorching day. The thermal properties of your decking material can greatly impact how comfortable your deck is in the summer.
There’s a common misconception that composite decking retains and transfers more heat than traditional timber decking. However, this is no longer true, especially with advances in manufacturing. Quality composite decking now stays nearly as cool as sealed timber decking, even in direct sunlight.
Eco-friendly composite decking made from recycled plastics and reclaimed timber can conduct heat a bit more than timber due to the plastic content. Nonetheless, the temperature difference is usually not noticeable to your bare feet.
Remember that different brands of composite decking vary in their heat resistance, so it’s important to research before making your choice.
How Deck Material Affects Your Deck Heat?
When it comes to decking materials, the colour plays a front role in how hot the surface gets (did you get it? Front role/surface?). In general, darker-coloured decking materials or finishes tend to absorb more heat, and this applies to both composite and timber decking.
In reality, it’s the colour of the decking, rather than the material composition, that has the most significant impact on heat retention and transfer. If your deck will be exposed to constant direct sunlight, opt for lighter colours to help keep it cooler.
On a scorching 40-degree day, any outdoor material will become uncomfortably hot. So, when you’re searching for decking that can handle heat, it’s essential to be realistic.
In simple terms, there’s no material that will make walking on a deck in 40-degree heat a pleasant experience, regardless of whether it’s composite or timber decking.
While composite decking may get slightly warmer than timber, the difference is minimal and won’t be noticeable to bare feet.
Considering Factors Before Building Deck
When you’re in the process of selecting the right decking material, it’s important to weigh the various factors that matter to you. While heat retention is a concern, it shouldn’t be the sole determinant of your decision. Here are some additional factors to consider:
Durability: Both composite and timber decking have their own strengths in terms of durability. Composite decking tends to be more resistant to rot, insects, and moisture, making it a low-maintenance option. Timber decking, while it may require more upkeep, can offer a natural and classic look that many people prefer.
- Maintenance: Think about how much time and effort you’re willing to invest in maintaining your deck. Composite decking generally requires less maintenance, usually only needing periodic cleaning. Timber decking may need more frequent treatments, like staining or sealing, to keep it in good condition.
- Aesthetics: The appearance of your deck is essential. Consider the look you want to achieve. Timber decking can provide a traditional and warm ambience, while composite decking comes in various colours and styles, offering more design flexibility.
- Cost: Assess your budget. Composite decking tends to have a higher upfront cost but may save you money in the long run due to reduced maintenance expenses. Timber decking can be more affordable initially, but ongoing maintenance costs should be factored in.
- Environmental Impact: Think about your environmental concerns. Some composite decking materials are made from recycled plastics and reclaimed wood fibres, which can be an eco-friendly choice. Timber decking’s environmental impact can vary depending on the source and logging practices.
- Local Climate: Consider the specific weather conditions in your area. If you experience frequent extreme heat or rain, you might prioritize materials that can withstand those conditions.
In summary, while heat retention is a valid concern, it’s just one piece of the puzzle when selecting the right decking material. You should assess your priorities and the overall value each material offers, taking into account factors like durability, maintenance, aesthetics, cost, environmental considerations, and your local climate.
Cooling Your Deck in Other Ways
The location of your deck matters. Whether you choose composite or timber decking, you can reduce heat-related issues by carefully planning where you install your deck and incorporating shade elements.
Planting trees and using awnings or umbrellas can provide shade and make your deck more comfortable, especially during the hottest parts of the day.
Partially enclosing or roofing your deck with a veranda or pergola is an effective way to reduce direct sunlight exposure.
Outdoor rugs can help insulate your deck and make it more comfortable underfoot.
Consider investing in misting fans to stay cool. Quality composite decking often comes with a high anti-slip rating, ensuring moisture won’t make your deck slippery.
For the perfect decking material, there are several factors to take into account. While heat retention is an important consideration, it should not be the sole basis for your decision. Along with how hot the deck can get, think about the material’s durability, maintenance requirements, aesthetic appeal, cost, environmental impact, and how well it suits your local climate.
Composite and timber decking both have their advantages, and the right choice depends on your specific needs and priorities. While it’s true that composite decking may get slightly warmer in direct sunlight, this difference is usually inconsequential, especially considering its benefits in terms of longevity and low maintenance.
In the end, the best decking material for you is the one that strikes the right balance between these factors, ensuring that you have a comfortable and long-lasting outdoor space that suits your style and your local conditions. So, consider all these elements when making your decision, and you’ll be on your way to enjoying your deck no matter how high the temperature climbs.