Aug 14, 2012 12:32 SGT Your outdoor decking is a beautiful to your home, it provides an exclusive alfresco-like resting area for your family and you. Hence, maintaining regularly to make your decking last for a longer period of time is a requirement for you. Generally, there are types of decking commonly found in Singapore homes. They are wood plastic composite decking as well as natural wood decking. Here's the steps.
Which Type of Decking Materials is Suitable for Your Home?Jun 12, 2012 12:24 SGT
An outdoor decking is important for homeowners as it act as an extended functional space for them to enjoy the nature at the exterior. Selecting the appropriate decking is crucial to have a beautiful and charming decking as well as something that is easy to maintain.
Let delve deeper into understanding the various types of decking material you can find in the market.
Composite Decking –
Unlike natural wood decking, composite decks (commonly known as wood plastic composite) are quite easy to maintain as there is no need for the home owner to do re-varnishing every one year or so.
However, as composite decking is very easy to be mass produced; there are many WPC brands out there available in the market with quality differences.
Moreover, due to its recycled material contents of natural wood and plastic composite, composite decking is often “overly” marketed as a green product. The fact is, upon disposal, some wood plastic composite products may not able to be re-used or recycled and most are not recommended to be disposed by incineration as well.
The home owner may have to understand and accept the fact that WPC decking planks have uniform color and patterns, unlike wood which have different natural grains and lining; they also need to choose a suitable WPC product with relatively better fire resistant as well as heat insulating properties, especially when the decking is installed in the outdoors such as the swimming pool area.
Today, as more and more WPC products are appearing in the market and also due to marketing hype, it may be difficult for home owners to select the best quality brand for their homes. Therefore, one advice to give to home owners is to look for a credible flooring contractor who will be responsible to its quality of the WPC decking even after the sales.
Natural Wood Decking –
Chengal is a very durable wood that has been used in Singapore for many years. However today we might be facing shortage of matured chengal timber from fully grown trees while young chengal trees are cut down to replace this issue. Young chengal timber is not recommended as it contains a relatively larger amount of sapwood which is not as durable as matured chengal. Oftenly, home owners are not clear about the differences between young and matured chengal.
Moreover, even if there may have matured chengal timber, the source is of the timber is often unclear. Hence home owners should look for credible flooring contractors who source for trustworthy chengal suppliers. With advancement in Science today, researchers from Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) has invented a DNA database tracking of Chengal in order to curb the rising cases of illegal logging worldwide. This breakthrough in technology greatly protects the forest and of course, home owners can rest assured that chengal timber from such source is the best in terms of quality and sustainability.
Ironwood is not a type of wood; it is a family of wood species with the similar properties which are considered high in durability, very heavy and high in janka hardness. 2 of the most common ironwood species commonly used in Singapore are Borneo Ironwood (Southeast Asia) and Okan (Africa and China).
Okan is relatively more resistant to termites, insects’ borers and fungi; however, according to a report here by wood species researcher in CIRAD, stability of the wood may not be good.
Generally, as the surface and the inside of iron wood is very hard and tightly closed, color staining and wood coating might be an issue as staining is not able to seep into the wood easily and completely; this may result in different colour variation of the wood. And especially after months of high exposure to rain and shine, hairline cracks or paint cracks may be unavoidable; hence the home owner needs to understand and accept this common characteristic of ironwood so that they can prepare themselves in advance.
Balau wood has density which is less than that of Chengal. According to this study by University of Tasmania, red balau may not be suitable to be used in the ground as it is only moderately resistant to decay. Yellow balau according to another CIRAD report, has class 2 durability to Fungi.
Wiedenhoeft commented on a Newsline article on Forest Product Laboratory that “the balau group is higher density material and often experiences many of the same problems found with ipe, such as cracking.”
Merbau and Kapur
Both Merbau and Kapur wood belong to the hardwood category and is commonly known to the public for its durability. In terms of visual appearance, merbau wood decking looks beautiful and stunning. Not only does its appearance look good, merbau wood decking is also termite resistant. Merbau wood decking has a disadvantage which is it cannot be too moist or tannins might appear on the wood. Kapur wood is weather resistant which makes it ideal to be used for outdoor decking that is highly exposed to rain and shine and it does not require any finishing to be done on the wood.
However, merbau and Kapur wood is currently facing with illegal cutting down of trees. According to this report, Merbau is listed as “vulnerable” wood and for Kapur wood; it requires “conservation actions”.
Pressure Treated Wood Decking
For pressure treated wood decking, chemicals are usually ‘painted’ onto the wood before placing it in a chamber for compression. During this process, the chemicals are being compressed into the wood to prevent termites from attacking. However, as it is being forced into the wood, it can only reach to the sapwood surface instead of the heartwood hence the properties are not improve for the inner layer of the wood which might result in termites still attacking on the treated wood. This can be proven from a report by Outdoor Structures Australia that even for treated wood species; chemicals are unable to penetrate into the heartwood.
For acetylated wood decking, it is different from pressure treated wood decking as the original properties are totally changed and improve. During this process, modification is going on from the sapwood all the way to the inner core of the heartwood which helps to improve its stability and durability.
Acetylated wood does not crack or split easily and is more resistant to termite attacks. According the test report here, acetylated wood is tested and proven to be highly resistant even to Formosan termites.
During this acetylation process, no toxic substance was added to it which helps to protect our living environment, rainforests as well as the wildlife. Acetylated wood is also taken from sustainable grown trees that are ready to be cut down for wood products hence it has obtained several green labels such as FSC and Cradle to cradle certificate.
At the end of the day, it is up to the individual to choose which type of decking material suits you best. However with a clear understanding of the various types of decking materials available in Singapore market, homeowners can make a better decision than before.