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Does Composite Decking Fade?

Eleanor Bickerton Nov 02, 2018
Care Decking Design Technical

Taking care of a traditional wooden deck can be a lot of work. Most wooden decks will need to be sealed and stained at least every 2-3 years to prolong their colour as the British summer and watery winters take their toll on even the most hard-wearing stains and paints.

When considering a deck refurbishment or replacement one of the most common questions we receive is does composite decking have the same fading issues as their timber alternatives?

Frontier Hyperion Composite Decking

Hyperion Frontier deck boards are engineered with plastic coating around the edge of the board, sometimes called a ‘capping’ This plastic coating ensures that the material keeps its colour throughout its 25 year residential stain and fade warranty.

Exact details of the warranty can be found here, but in brief they promise that the colour will not change perceptibly (defined as 5 Delta in the terms) over the entire 25 year warranty period. 

In short, Frontier does not fade.

Pioneer Hyperion Composite Decking

Our Hyperion Pioneer deck boards do not have a plastic protective coating.  They are the same coloured composite material throughout, a material which contains ~60% recycled wood.  As a result, it contains natural wood oils (called tannins) which are dark brown coloured (they contribute to tea’s colour). These are gradually washed out of the wood by rain and moisture in the air.  This occurs during the first 8-10 weeks in a process sometimes called ‘extractive bleeding’. The colour change is greatest in the lighter colours where the tannins contribute a higher percentage of the original colouration.

These pictures show what extractive bleeding may look like. You may first notice these after a period of rain, especially if the materials have been installed over a dry period. The tannin stains can be removed by washing with water if required. Otherwise, it will disappear after the board has been wet and dried several times, for example - after the boards have been rained on a few times.

Tannin Marks

After the natural process of extractive bleeding, the boards are subject to standard weathering, primarily from the UV rays of the sun. Our Pioneer boards contain a UV stabiliser, but will undergo some further fading.  The most noticeable change is when using the wood grain effect where the contrast between the two shades decreases significantly.

Hyperion Composite Cladding & Hyperion Composite Fencing

Our Hyperion Pioneer cladding and fencing boards, and our Hyperion Sentinel cladding boards also do not have a plastic protective coating. They are engineered in a similar way to Pioneer decking; they are the same coloured composite material throughout.

As cladding and fencing are perpendicular to the ground, not as much water sits on it as it would for decking. As a result, it may take 8 to 16 weeks for the natural wood oils to wash out. In some situations, the extractive bleeding process may take as long as 6 months.

Your cladding and fencing may have watermarks like those in the below image within this period, but these marks should all be gone after 6 months. 

Tannin stains on Hyperion Cladding

When exposed to UV rays of the sun, they will also continue to undergo some further fading. Extractive bleeding and fading as a result of UV rays is a standard feature of all uncapped composite materials containing wood and will be seen in products across the market.

To help with your decisions and ensure you can match your decking, cladding, and fencing with other elements of your garden or terrace, we’ve included a set of pictures below which show the natural weathering over the first 6 months. These show the change in colour and the relative intensity of the wood grain effects upon different colours over time.

Left; Hyperion Pioneer Decking Fade Timeline; Right: Hyperion Pioneer Fencing Fade Timeline

Left: Hyperion Pioneer Cladding Fade Timeline; Right: Hyperion Sentinel Cladding Fade Timeline

In Summary

Composite decking, cladding, and fencing provide a low maintenance alternative to traditional wooden decks and materials. The Hyperion composite ranges will never need to be stained or treated and hold their initial colour to varying degrees. The Frontier decking range has a warranty covering the level of colour fastness and the Pioneer ranges’ change depends upon the initial colour chosen but will lighten similarly to the photo above.

If the exact colour is a significant aspect of your decking, then we do suggest the Frontier range. If you are unsure about which colour to choose, feel free to contact our team on +353 1 447 0406 or email ie-info@envirobuild.com for expert advice.