This informal CPD article, ‘Beside the seaside: composite decking and the coast’, was provided by Arbor Forest Products, one of the largest independent timber importing businesses in the UK, providing outstanding service and distribution to merchants.
Despite the unpredictable nature of British summertime weather, ‘staycations’ have experienced a resurgence in recent years with people looking to make the most of what’s on offer – from beaches to mountains and the countryside. As these destinations have increased in popularity, there has been a growing demand for suitable accommodation that makes the most of beautiful surroundings without compromising on home comforts. Luxury cabins and lodges provide the ideal solution for this, and the addition of decking is a popular way to enhance these by creating an outdoor living space.
While decking is a great option for boosting the appeal of luxury cabins and lodges, there are a number of factors to consider – and the timber or composite question should be at the top of the list. Traditional timber decking can offer multiple benefits, and its relatively low price point is likely to appeal to anyone looking to add decking to cabins or lodges used as holiday rentals. However, this initial lower outlay won’t provide the best value for money in the long term, particularly for seaside properties which are exposed to harsher weather conditions. Alternatively, quality composite decking can offer a number of benefits for luxury cabins and lodges.
Coastal conditions can have a significant impact on timber. Prolonged moisture exposure – for example from salty sea water or rain – can lead to the growth of mould and mildew, which can ultimately damage timber decking boards and compromise their structural integrity and safety. Water can also cause timber to swell, while sun exposure can cause it to shrink – resulting in the warping of the boards. The sun can also damage timber decking in terms of its appearance, as excessive exposure may result in discolouration.
This means that timber decking requires a heavy maintenance schedule – including regular sanding and varnishing – to delay the impact of the environmental damage.
One of the key benefits of choosing composite decking over timber decking is its durability, even when exposed to the elements – although uncapped composite boards are prone to fading and staining. With this in mind, it’s vital to choose high quality composite decking that has been manufactured with a cap or with shell technology for protection against the weather, making this type of board the ideal choice for seaside lodges and cabins that are frequently exposed to salt, sun, water and wind.
The use of this technology means that even under harsh conditions composite decking won’t rot, split, fade or stain – with only minimal maintenance required. However, it’s also important to maximise the longevity of decking through selecting a trusted brand that manufactures solid composite boards as opposed to hollowcore boards. Solid composite decking boards provide structural performance and integrity, and when combined with a cap or shell, offer exceptional performance whatever the weather.
Leading composite decking brands are able to guarantee this durability with manufacturer’s warranties of up to ten years for commercial decks and up to 50 years for residential decks for added peace of mind. What’s more, unlike traditional timber decking, composite decking simply requires occasional cleaning with a little soap and water or a jet wash so that owners or guests can spend more time enjoying the space and less time maintaining it. This also offers huge benefits for holiday rental accommodation in seaside locations, where a quick turnaround between guests is essential.
Composite decking is also ideal for luxury seaside accommodation thanks to its versatility.
The possibilities are endless, and composite decking can overcome almost any design challenges. Whether a space requires a multi-level deck or a custom curved wraparound deck, composite decking boards can provide a solution as unique as the project itself.
Composite decking also offers great versatility thanks to its availability in a wide variety of colours. Options include natural wood shades and effects for those opting for a more traditional look, as well as more modern shades of grey – unlike timber which would require painting to achieve this aesthetic. This extensive choice of colours without the need for painting the deck allows installers to be creative with ease, and the use of two contrasting yet harmonious colours together as borders or for inlay designs is increasingly popular.
Some leading composite decking brands have created complementary product ranges to further enhance a space. This includes specially-designed lighting – which can be installed into new decks or retrofitted to existing decks – that not only looks great and means the space can be enjoyed into the evening and beyond, but maximises safety for users.
Purpose-built complementary railings are also a popular decking enhancement for coastal properties. While railings are often necessary from a safety perspective for cliffside decking, there’s no need to compromise on aesthetic appeal or ocean views as leading brands offer clear glass railing systems.
Although timber is a natural resource and responsible companies across the industry are investing in sustainable manufacturing practices, it isn’t necessarily the most eco-friendly material for decking as it can contribute to deforestation. Fortunately, leading composite decking brands offer an even more sustainable solution. Composite boards comprise up to 95 per cent recycled materials which are often sourced from commercial packaging and common household items – preventing a significant amount of plastic and wood fibres from entering landfill each year.
The eco-friendly benefits of composite decking complement the natural surroundings of seaside properties. This concept can be further built upon in the finishing touches of the deck – for example, using composite decking boards to build custom planters for flowers which are not only beautiful but also encourage sustainability. From sustainability to versatility and durability, quality composite decking can provide the perfect solution for bringing seaside living outdoors.
We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Arbor Forest Products, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively, you can go to the CPD Industry Hubs for more articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.