SLIP & FALL PROBLEMS AREAS ON SYNTHETIC WOOD
Synthetic wood continues to grow in popularity, especially for use on backyard decks and other outdoor structures. Also known as composite lumber or synthetic decking, synthetic wood is typically made of wood shavings that are bound together by a glue and pressure, much like pressed wood. These planks are then sheathed in plastic or a compound containing a combination of plastic, resin and wood fiber. The quality of the sheathing often determines how much or little moisture the synthetic wood board will absorb and thus how susceptible it might be to slip and fall conditions.
The primary reasons that synthetic wood is popular include:
- Weather resistant
- Won’t splinter or rot
- Lighter than natural wood
- Low maintenance
- Comes in a variety of colors
- Some are made in part with eco-friendly recyclables, like bamboo
Of course, there are trade-offs when using synthetic wood for outdoor structures. The negatives include:
- Can be more expensive per-foot than natural wood
- Some brands with a smooth cap are slippery, especially when wet
- Some brands look “fake” and are not as attractive as natural wood
- Can be prone to algae, mold or mildew, if the composite absorbs water
- Some brands can bow over time
Found below are some major manufacturers of synthetic wood and the products they offer into the market.
Trex Synthetic Wood
Trex Company, Inc, founded in 1996 and headquartered in Winchester VA, created, refined and perfected the category regarding composite decking, becoming the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking products. Today Trex offers the industry’s widest array of high-performance composite products, available in more than 29 countries around the world.
Trex manufactures a composite decking to create a low-maintenance, high-performance backyard retreat that can offer you serene outdoors without depleting them over a long period of time. Some of the manufactured products include high-performance composite decking, PVC (vinyl) decking, and wood/plastic early generation decking.
Here is a comprehensive article on how to make your Trex decking less slippery.
MacLumber Synthetic Wood
MacLumber, headquartered in Bamberg SC, is a manufacturer and supplier of plastic lumber used for decking and other outdoor areas.
Unlike Trex and TimberTech, MacLumber is not a well-known brand, however they do maintain their synthetic lumber is among the best manufactured. Their best-known product is called NyloDeck; not made of wood nor PVC, but instead recycled carpet fiber. Some benefits of this product include: Strong, lightweight, easy-to-use; impervious to mold, mildew and termites; no rot or swelling; UV protected; strength and rigidity enable joist spans up to 24″ O.C.; available in lengths up to 24′; and best expansion and contraction rating of all composites.
But how does that help someone who wants to install this product outdoors? We all know carpet can stain no matter what liquid is tossed on it. Then you have the problem of dealing with a cold or frozen carpet in the winter.
TimberTech Synthetic Wood
TimberTech®, founded in 1996 and headquartered in Wilmington OH, is a leading manufacturer. They are involved in research, development and marketing of long lasting composite, wood-plastic, and PVC decking, railing and fencing solutions.
With TimberTech you can build a dream wood-composite deck with confidence. Available products include wood-plastic composite, capped composite, and PVC composite, all available in earth or other natural tones. TimberTech maintains its color and elegance for years without the need of annual painting or staining. And it resists mildew, warping and insects, removing the need to replace rotting, uneven or termite-damaged boards. TimberTech also offers a 25-year warranty coverage, and that warranty can be transferred to a second homeowner.
The above information is great, especially the transferrable warranty, but what about the dangers? Most people don’t realize, in terms of safety, that composite decks are actually more dangerous than lumber found at a big box store due to the manufacturing process and materials. Yes, composite decking is easier to clean and lasts for many years. But it’s also susceptible to mold, mildew, and regular wear and tear.