Decking is an all but essential extension for Northern Territory homes. Aesthetically, decking provides the foundations for an outdoor living space. It breaks up space and defines boundaries, while also performing the function of keeping ground dwelling bugs and pests at bay.
While the benefits are clear to see, decking also has to withstand the harshest weather conditions that the Northern Territory has to offer. Discolouring, corrosion, and termite infestation are just some of the challenges you will face. Eco decks are an option that is considered by more and more people in the Northern Territory.
What are Eco Decks?
An eco deck is one which is usually made from recycled materials. Most eco decks are a composite, which means they are made from more than one material. Typically, eco decks are made from recycled wood and plastic.
Eco decking is designed to last, even in the hottest climates. The composite is UV, rot, and pest resistant, making it a great option for Northern Territory climates. There is no treatment required with eco decking, and the material has built-in anti-slip properties.
Other options, which are promoted as eco decks, include recycled wood or plastic. However, there is much controversy in the decking industry surrounding which material is the most eco friendly. Before you purchase eco decking, it is important to understand the long term impacts each material has on the environment.
Comparing Eco Deck Options
So, every decking manufacturer has likely staked a claim that their decking is the most eco friendly. However, many of those claims are based on obvious biases towards a material’s specific properties. The reality is, there are environmental advantages and disadvantages with each option.
Wood decking is great at absorbing and locking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This type of decking is recyclable, so you can be sure it won’t go to a landfill when it reaches the end of its life. However, wood decking requires staining and sealing, which in most cases means using fossil fuel based products.
Composite decking, as already mentioned, has a long lifespan and is designed to resist the elements. The problem with composite decking, however, is that it is typically unrecyclable. Due to the bonding process used to fuse the wood and plastic materials, it is impossible to separate the two in most cases. Although there are firms that will recycle composite decking, it is generally accepted that the process will significantly weaken the material’s properties.
Plastic decking, so long as it comes from fully recycled materials, makes a good case for being the most eco friendly. Unlike composite decking, pure plastic can be recycled at the end of its life cycle. It is important to check that the decking is 100% recycled plastic, though, as many manufacturers advertise composite as plastic decking.
The Proving Ground
To further complicate matters, each material has drawbacks depending on the source or manufacturer. Some builders swear that salvaged wood is the most eco friendly. However, you could end up with wood that is already damaged, if the sourcing process isn’t carefully monitored.
Likewise, composite eco decking manufacturers tout a lifecycle of up to thirty years, when in reality some composites fall apart within less than three years. When buying composite eco decking, it is therefore important to ensure that the manufacturer supplies a warrantee to back up their claims.
The best path to success is ensuring that you have all the information, of course. When you speak to your decking builder, get a full run down of all the materials they plan to use as well as any associated guarantees.
Eco decks are part of a burgeoning industry, so we can expect to see new advancements and improvements in the coming years. That means good news for the environment and better eco options for Northern Territory homeowners.