Hollow vs Solid Composite Decking: The Lowdown

Relaxation and good times are synonymous with the backyard deck. Picture yourself relaxing on a patio chair on your backyard deck, enjoying a hot tub or grilling for friends and family while you enjoy a quiet evening at home. Regardless of the size and shape of their property, homeowners can create backyard decks that fit their lifestyles and homes perfectly. Traditionally, timber was the only material used for backyard decks. 

Despite their good looks, they rotted or warped over time and required constant maintenance. Staining and treating them was necessary, or else you would have to worry about splinters every time you walked on your deck barefoot. A new material emerged in the 1990s – composite decking. 

Composite materials were used to make the decks, which were made from recycled plastic and wood that was manufactured to look like real wood. There were mixed results with these new materials during their first few years. There were only a few colors to choose from, and they didn’t look like wood at all. However, manufacturing processes and technologies have improved over the past three decades. A composite deck board now offers greater durability, aesthetic appeal, and cost-effectiveness than ever before.

How do Composite Deck Boards differ from Wood Deck Boards?

These composite deck boards look much more like wood and come in a variety of colors. Furthermore, they are stronger and more durable than ever before. Other reasons include: 

  1. Deck boards made from composite materials can last much longer than wooden deck boards. Composite deck boards are partially made of wood, so some rotting is possible, but the risk is greatly reduced. In comparison to composite deck boards, wood decks will experience rotting and warping problems much sooner. Wood deck boards are not as weather resistant as composite deck boards. Composite wood decks can last at least 25 years with minimal maintenance, whereas the lifespan of wood decks depend on the type of wood used, with more expensive woods lasting longer. A composite product can last for a long time if it is carefully followed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Neither your deck nor its boards will ever need to be replaced due to damage or rot. 
  2. It is much more difficult to maintain a deck made of wood. The splinter problem mentioned above can be avoided by sanding wood decks regularly, and staining and sealing them annually is often necessary. Composition deck boards do not have any of these issues. Besides resisting rot and termites, these are also non-splintering, and they don’t need to be stained, painted, or resealed. Most of the time, all they need is a good wash once or twice a year, and clean up any spills and stains immediately. Maintaining your deck doesn’t need to take up a weekend every year. 
  3. In spite of composite deck boards having higher initial costs than wood deck boards, they are more durable and require less maintenance in the long run. 
  4. Environmental protection. At composite decking manufacturers of the highest quality, we use recycled wood and plastics. Plastic bottles and recycled wood are used in the manufacture of their composite decking. A third-party audit is also conducted periodically by the best manufacturers to ensure that they are following all health, environmental, and safety regulations. Carbon footprint reduction is a priority for these premium manufacturers. Using environmentally friendly manufacturing processes and reducing waste is their goal. 

What Are The Different Types of Composite Decking?

Composite decking comes in two types – hollow or solid:

  • Boards made of solid composite material are heavier, but they look more like wooden boards. 
  • Boards that are hollow are lighter due to less material and expand and contract less than boards that are solid with fluctuations in environmental conditions. 

Composite deck boards are typically only available with solid cores in the U.S. Compared to hollow boards, solid cores are faster and easier to manufacture. A solid composite board can be extruded much faster and easier than a hollow one. It is difficult and time-consuming to manufacture hollow boards, so most manufacturers refuse to do so. 

Composite Hollow Decking vs Solid Core Composite Deck Boards 

Here are some details about each type of board. There are some important differences between solid and hollow decking.

What Is Solid Board Composite Decking? 

Deck boards made from solid composite materials have the following characteristics: 

  • With solid core composite decking, you can get a deck that closely resembles real wood without headaches. 
  • A solid composite deck board absorbs much more sound than a hollow composite deck board. 
  • Unlike hollow composite deck boards, they do not require plugs at the ends: Many people do not like the open look at the ends of hollow composite deck boards, so they require plugs or fascia boards. Hollow composite deck boards should also be plugged to prevent water retention. No plugs or fascia boards are needed on solid composite deck boards. 
  • Composite deck boards made from solid composite material are also durable and sturdy: Hollow composite deck boards are as well, so they are the same in that regard.
  • In extreme weather conditions, solid composite boards may warp, contract and expand, causing fasteners around the joists to loosen. If you’re using solid composite boards, building a deck on your own is also challenging because solid boards are heavy. 

What Is Hollow Board Composite Decking? 

There are several advantages to hollow composite boards: 

  • Compared to solid boards, hollow composite boards weigh up to a third less. Therefore, hollow composite boards are much easier to work with on your own or with the help of a professional. 
  • As a replacement board, hollow composite boards are an excellent option if you have an older deck made from wood, and you know the foundation is still sound, but you want to replace the decking. 
  • Solid composite boards are slightly more durable, but they are also more susceptible to extreme variations in temperature or moisture levels. : Hollow composite boards are more resistant to extreme variations in temperature or moisture levels than solid composite boards. A solid core board will expand or contract more over time than a hollow board if you live in a cold or hot climate. The boards can warp and loosen due to this, as we mentioned above. In areas where these conditions occur, hollow composite decking will last longer since it is less affected by these factors. Hollow composite boards are the best choice if you live near a beach or in a city that experiences rapid temperature changes. 
  • There is a common misconception that hollow composite boards are weaker than solid composite boards. Engineered boards, or hollow boards, have ribbed centers and are not totally hollow. Imagining a hollow composite board as a honeycomb, you can imagine how it is internally structured. Unlike solid composite decking, a product like NewTechWood UltraShield is hollow, which allows it to retain its strength and durability while being lightweight. Hollow boards compensate for the lack of composite material in the voids by incorporating arch structures. 
  • Installing great lighting and music is easier because wires can be run through the boards with ease.
  • The lighter the board, the easier it is to work with. Moreover, hollow boards put less stress on an older substructure than heavier solid boards when replacing the surface boards of a deck with a solid foundation. The use of hollow boards makes it easier for you to build a new deck or retrofit an old one on your own, no matter what type you are building or retrofitting. 
  • DIY enthusiasts who enjoy doing things themselves will love hollow composite decking. Typically, two or three people are required to build or refit a wood deck, or to install solid composite boards. Compared to hollow composite boards, these materials are much heavier. Wood or solid composite boards will need to be moved by yourself and a friend. 
  • As a result of the weight factor, hollow composite boards can also be purchased in longer lengths. Transporting and arranging them from the store is easier. 
  • With hollow composite decking, even if you are not inclined to DIY, professionals can build your deck much faster than with other heavier materials. 
  • When building a deck, some people will need to keep their budget in mind. Having a great looking deck or no deck may depend on how much you pay for hollow composite decking versus solid core composite decking which is usually significantly more expensive.

Among the disadvantages of hollow composite boards are: 

  • The hollow composite board may dent more easily if you drop a heavy object on it. 
  • A hollow board also looks less like wood because it requires caps or fascia boards on all ends, which can collect water if plugs are not correctly attached. 

Maintenance Of Composite Boards Still Important

Despite requiring less maintenance than wood, composite boards still require some attention. Keep in mind the manufacturer’s instructions about how to protect a composite deck against the elements if you want the boards on your deck to last for a long time. 

What is the Difference in the Strength of the Hollow Composite Boards Compared to Solid Composite Boards?

As a result of their hollowness, hollow boards are often perceived as significantly weaker than solid ones. Unlike solid boards, our hollow boards feature arches inside, so they are just as strong as solid boards. Through the International Building Code (IBC), the International Residential Code (IRC), and the International Existing Building Code (IEBC), the International Code Council (ICC) sets industry standards for construction. These codes have been adopted by many regions within the U.S. and throughout the world. 

The substructure joists cannot be more than 16′′ apart from their centers, which means that they cannot span more than 16′′ between their centers. It is recommended to have a span of no more than 16 inches between solid boards in the installation guides provided by most manufacturers. According to the ICC, a product like NewTechWood hollow boards are rated at 16 inches on center, so you can rest assured that these boards meet industry standards. 

Because hollow composite boards are made in the same way as solid composite boards, you shouldn’t let weight concerns keep you from putting anything on your deck. Hot tubs, grills, and deck furniture are welcome. In addition, there is no concern with a load of winter snow on your quality hollow composite deck. 

When To Use Solid Core Boards

Whenever you are not installing a fascia board and don’t want to see the grooves for hidden fasteners, it is recommended to use solid core boards.

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