Misleading information from decking manufacturer

Misleading information from decking manufacturer

I had the misfortune today to have to read an article by Cladco. They are comparing their hollow uncapped Chinese manufactured composite decking to Trex. They also summarise that the hollow was the better buy.

The following are my comments on this

Material Composition

Trex Composite Decking Boards are made from 95% recycled materials. It comprises of recycled plastic film and reclaimed wood. It is then capped by a protective plastic shell on three sides for durability and low maintenance.

Cladco Composite Decking Boards, are made from 100% recycled materials, manufactured using 60% recycled hardwood fibres and 40% recycled plastic.

What proof is available that the fibre content is wood?

Is this PEFC or FSC approved?

The product will require a minimum of 5% additives to be produced so the 100% recycled statement must be a lie! Indeed, most Chinese producers use up to 10% as they need compatibilisers.

Look and Feel

Cladco Wood-Plastic Decking Boards come with two high-quality, low-maintenance composite finishes; Woodgrain and Original. The latter features narrow grooves on one side for low-slip properties, and wider grooves on the reverse.

Cladco Hollow Composite Decking Boards are supplied uncapped (End Caps are sold separately) with a grooved edge. Other board types include Solid Commercial Grade and Bullnose Decking Boards.

Trex offers a single woodgrain finish that mimics the look of natural timber. The company’s Composite Boards have a tough plastic shell for a low-maintenance surface. However, it does not promote low-slip properties.

The low slip issue will not differ too much by the surface design and the TREX shell as inherent reduced slip attributes which the hollow uncapped boards do not. The edges on the grooves in the hollow product will wear with use something the Trex shell will not do.

Colours Available

Trex wood-plastic composite decking is available in 11 different colour options for the UK market, including tropical and earthy tones. Whether buying Trex or Cladco Composite Boards, painting is not needed. Here’s a look at Trex composite decking colours:

Basics Enhance by Trexcollection includes two, which are Clam Shell, Saddle

Trex Enhance Naturals collection includes four, which are Calm Water, Foggy Wharf, Rocky Harbor and Toasted Sand

Trex Transcend collection includes five which are, Lava Rock, Spiced Rum, Tiki Torch, Island Mist and Gravel Path

Cladco Composite Decking Boards are available in a single collection of eight colours running throughout the entire range of Composite Board types. These are, Teak, Coffee, Charcoal, Stone Grey, Light Grey, Ivory, Olive Green and Redwood

And the point I am making is a cost point.

Is Trex more expensive than Cladco?

When it comes down to price, side by side, Cladco Composite Decking comes out on top with a lower board cost per square metre, as shown in the table below. Trex decking prices are slightly higher throughout the range:

“If you take the difference in weight between hollow and solid boards you will find that the actual cost difference is much narrower.”

Warranty, how long do they last?

Trex supplies its composite decking boards with a warranty period of 25 years. Although the company has been around for the same length of time, the latest generation of decking only came onto the scene a decade ago, so 25, 35 and 50 years which remain unproven.

“Not correct. Transcend hit the market in late 2008 so is 15 years old. It has produced a very significant amount of volume used around the world with minimal quality issues. Unlike uncapped hollow decking produced from a raft of China based producers which have a long history of issues. These are not limited to but suffer from discolouring, cracking, warping twisting and to a lesser extend going moldy. Trex’s annual production is in excess of all of the Chinese producers of hollow product combined.”

Cladco Composite Decking Boards are supplied with a 10-year guarantee. They do not claim to last longer than what is actually known about the latest generation of boards. This provides a more realistic guarantee period than other brands.

“So we are comparing a 25-year (and 35 and 50) life expectancy with a 10-year one. Both of which are diminishing value warranties. Quality and performance deteriation are a big aspect of cost value. So no wonder the products differ on cost when you set this against the volume of material actually being purchased.”

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Trex and Cladco deck care

Fading and decking issues

Both Cladco and Trex Composite Decking Boards benefit from being fade-resistant without needing to be treated or stained. This is a major advantage over traditional timber boards, which require regular upkeep over their lifespan. Protection against rot, and being scratch-resistant, are to be expected of low-maintenance composite.

“Hollow uncapped decking made in China is not scratch resistant. Neither can it be regarded as colour fast or fade resistant. Where is the test data comparison with Trex as this mentions only wood, it is very misleading again.”

Mould and Mildew

Neither Cladco composite decking nor Trex composite decking claims to be 100% mould and mildew protected. This is because anything that remains outdoors will naturally acquire some build-up on the surface. This far outshines traditional timber decking in this department. With composite decking from both companies having greater resistance to rot and mould. This means if mould and mildew were to appear over the years on composite decking, it can simply be washed off the deck with soap and warm water without harming the composite properties.

“Again washing surface mould of capped Trex is simple but off uncapped hollow product where the surface has been broken it is not so easy and can result in surface damage and visible colour changes which will only disappear as the colour its fads, which it will (where is the test data comparison).”

Weather and Heat Retention

This is where Cladco Composite Decking Boards come out on top. Featuring a narrow-grooved surface on one side for low-slip properties, this allows for maximum water run-off to reduce slippage underfoot. Trex composite decking boards on the other hand, due to their shallow woodgrain surface effect, do not offer this as a benefit.

“No, because the surface of the Trex product has an inherent radius to it that enables water run-off. Also, within the fitting guide it demands a slope to enable water run-off and to stop pooling. Water does not get trapped within the groves as it can with hollow grooved boards nor does water get inside the solid product and sit as it can and often does with hollow boards.”

Heat retention is minimal in both types of boards and does not present any issues. Even when choosing lighter tones over darker tones. Weather-resistant properties come as standard for Composite Decking.

“Sorry misleading yet again. Weather resistance is enhanced by a shell capping and is much less evident. With an uncapped product, end of argument.”

Scratch Resistance

Cladco and Trex Composite Decking differ in how they are manufactured and provide different levels of scratch resistance. Trex composite has two distinct product levels, that being Enhance and Transcend. The scratch resistance properties increases along with the price (Transcend offering the highest resistance level).

Cladco Decking Boards offer scratch-resistant properties. Woodgrain Effect Boards provide a higher levels of resistance when compared to the original finish.

“Ok so where is the data comparison, uncapped PE/wood boards scratch end relatively easily. Trex’s shell is very tough and very scratch resistant. The woodgrain finish will appear to be more scratch resistant than a grooved offering as the grain will distract the eye but it will scratch exactly the same.”


The bottom line

If you are looking for a deck with low-slip properties and cheaper per square metre, Cladco will be the one to go for. Trex features a greater variety of colours but comes at a higher price point. Trex Composite Decking has a longer warranty period, however unproven to date.

“If you are looking for a low cost product that may last between 3 to 5 years then a hollow uncapped board would be fine but correctly treated wood would do the same job at an even lower cost. If you want a deck that lasts and requires minimal upkeep then the only option is a solid capped product.”

Misleading information from decking manufacturer, who do you believe? 

cladco composite decking
cladco composite decking

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