The Ultimate Composite Decking Quiz

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors

The Ultimate Composite Decking Quiz
Image: iStockphoto.com/Eric Honeycutt

About This Quiz

The backyard deck you built several years ago was finished with wood decking. It's time to upgrade your deck and you're thinking that the new composite decking might be a better choice than wood. Take our quiz to see whether you have your composite decking facts straight.
If you construct a deck out of wood. what is the lest attractive feature of the finished product?
tendency to warp and buckle
regular care and maintenance
No matter which type of wooden decking you decide to use it will require regular care and maintenance. You should plan on sanding, staining and resealing your wooden deck surface every one to three years.
tendency to shrink and split

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What is a revolutionary innovation in options available to install a decking surface?
aluminum decking
plastic decking
composite decking
Composite decking has become the most popular alternative to real wood decking. Consumers are offered a large selection of options when choosing composite decking.

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Composite decking is typically made from:
vinyl coated compressed wood chips
vinyl coated concrete
combination of wood and plastic
Composite decking is typically manufactured with lumber byproducts and plastic formed to look like wood. Many composite decking products are earth friendly, because they use byproducts that were historically wasted.

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How is composite material formed into a board-shaped length suitable for decking application?
The mixture is heated before being formed in to the proper shape and then laid out to cool.
Manufacturers mix the wood and plastic components with preservatives and pigments before heating it. After heating the mixture, it is formed into the proper shape and texture before cooling.
The mixture is steam treated, poured in to forms where it cools into the proper shape and texture.
The mixture is cold pressed in to the proper shape and texture before being sprayed with a clear plastic coating.

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What is a distinctive character of composite decking compared to all-wood decking?
no difference
heavier but weaker
Composite decking typically weighs more than wood, but wood decking is stronger structurally.
lighter and tougher

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What is the main reason that composite decking is more popular than wood?
Composite decking can be installed and ignored for the remainder of its 30-year life span.
Composite decking ages to a beautiful natural pine color within a few months after installation.
Composite decking never needs to be sanded, painted, stained or sealed.
Composite decking is low maintenance, requiring little care or attention over its serviceable lifetime. When properly installed you can expect a long and easy-care life from your decking.

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Does composite decking require any regular care?
Not at all, install the decking, enjoy it and forget about wasting time on anything but basic cleaning.
Your composite decking can still stain so be careful to wipe up any spills that stain as soon as possible.
According to Decks.com, composite decking can stain easily, so you have to make sure to clean up any spills as quickly as possible. You will need to hose composite decking down twice a year with a soap and water scrub.
The warranty requires you to wash your composite decking monthly with a special cleaning solvent.

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In 2007, what manufacturer of composite decking had their decking recalled because it was breaking even when properly installed?
Kandant Composites Inc.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall of composite decking manufactured by Kandant Composites Inc. because the product was breaking under normal use. The CPSC recommended that consumers check for visible cracks or whether the surface could be easily scratched with a fingernail.
Universal Decking Corp.
Castle Industries inc.

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How many types of composite decking are currently available on the U.S. market?
six
four
two
There are only two types of composite decking available on the U.S. market. Solid decking and hollow decking are the two types that may be found in a building supplier’s store.

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What is the easiest way to tell the difference between solid and hollow composite decking once it has been installed?
Solid composite decking looks more like real wood than hollow decking does.
Solid composite decking looks much more like real wood than equivalent hollow decking does. Solid composites are more popular because of their superior strength.
You will not hear an echo when you tap on solid decking with a pen or a coin.
When you examine hollow decking closely, you will see tiny perforations that allow for ventilation.

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Is there a difference in the all weather performance of hollow composites when compared to solid composites?
Hollow composite decking will expand and contact more with temperature changes.
Solid composite decking will expand and contract more with temperature changes.
Solid composite decking will expand and contract more with temperature changes due to its greater mass. Installation recommendations take this characteristic of solid composites into consideration by allowing more spacing for expansion.
There is no difference in the performance of solid and hollow composite decking with temperature changes.

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What is important regardless to which type of composite decking you choose?
Composite decking must be treated with preservative and fungicides.
According to Forest Products Journal, even though composite decking combines wood and cellulose fibers with plastic, it must still be treated with preservative and fungicides during manufacture. When left untreated even composite decking will rot.
Composite decking does not contain any preservatives or fungicides.
Composite decking is waterproof and will not rot or discolor.

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Some composite decking has wood content as high as:
80 percent
70 percent
Most composite decking products contain at least 40 percent wood fibers so it is important that the wood be processed with preservatives. Some composites are up to 70 percent.
60 percent

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What is a long-lasting wood preservative that is commonly used with composite decking?
pentox
osmose
zinc borate
A chemical compound called zinc borate is commonly used as a wood preservative in production of composite decking. Zinc borate is also popular as a fire retardant and smoke depressant used in a wide range of plastics.

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How long can zinc borate remain active in composite decking?
more than 20 years
Zinc borate can remain active for more than 20 years when used in the manufacture of composite decking. That is why zinc oxide is the wood preservative of choice by many composite producers.
around 17 years
at least 10 years

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How many types of composite decking material are there?
nine
six
three
There are three types of composite decking materials in use today in the USA. The three types are polyethylene-based, polypropylene-based and non-wood plastics.

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How can you be sure that the composite decking you are planning to purchase meets building code requirements?
Look for a consumer stamp of approval on the underside of each decking plank.
The Web site, decks.com maintains a list of approved decking materials.
Many products are labeled appropriately, but you can always double check by going to the decks.com Web site for a list of approved decking materials.
All approved decking planks have building standards labels that list ingredients stapled to one end.

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How do installation costs of composite decking compare to traditional wood decking?
Composite decking is cheaper and fast to install than wood.
Composite decking is more expensive to install than wood decking.
Composite decking and wood decking installation costs are comparable.
Composite decking installation costs are about equal to the cost of installing wood decking. Both surfaces are applied to traditional pressure-treated wood framing.

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If you are renovating an older deck that employed wooden decking, is there any special consideration?
Simply remove the old decking, all nails and coat with paint on preservative before laying down new decking.
There is composite decking designed specifically to be installed directly over old decking.
Composite decking requires more support underneath so you will have to add more joists.
Composite decking is weaker than wood so it will require more support underneath. You will have to reposition some joists so that you can add more joists to properly support the composite decking.

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What is one final caution to anyone that is planning to install composite decking?
Make sure that there is adequate air circulation under your patio or deck.
Follow manufactures directions to the letter without any deviation.
Any handy person can usually install composite decking by themselves. Nevertheless, be careful to follow the manufacturer’s directions to the letter to insure that you do not void warranty coverage.
Hire only one of the manufacturing companies certified installers from your area.

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You Got:
/20
iStockphoto.com/Eric Honeycutt

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