Composite fencing, like other building materials, has its own advantages and disadvantages. Due to its growth in popularity, some customers are searching for the pros and cons of composite material in order to establish if it is a good option for their fencing.
Firstly, let’s give a brief introduction to what composite fencing is. Most composite fencing sold in the UK is produced using a mix of recycled wood and HDPE Plastic. These are then bonded together and heated through a mould. The fence panels are then cooled and go through a surface treatment. Most are sanded surface treatments, and the mould design can provide a number of finishes such as thin grooves, wide grooves, smooth and even wood grain patterns.
Unlike wood, composite fencing can take your garden to the next level. This is because composite fence panels have been produced to provide an improved alternative to wood fencing. Many customers ask: what can I expect for its performance in comparison to wood?
Composite fencing not only looks better, but its performance is also better for many years after installation. Wood fencing has been used in gardens for decades. Therefore most customers are already aware of the extensive disadvantages that come with using timber fencing. Timber material is labour intensive and requires much more maintenance than composite decking. Composite fencing reduces labour intensive maintenance as the stability of colour over time is far superior to that of wood. Composite fencing will reduce colour but only a small amount when compared to wood.
The difference between composite fencing and wood in terms of flexural bending strength is wood, upon research, has a 21.33 MPA, whereas composite fence panels achieve 23.4 MPA, making composite fence panels stronger and more durable than wood.
In terms of long-term durability, composite fencing offers maximum performance, and its panels have low water absorption and will not rot or splinter. Woods has low performance, especially with regard to durability. This means your fence will have a short life span if not maintained. This is due to water absorption that will weaken and soften the materials resulting in the decay and rotting of your fence.
Composite fencing also has excellent resistance to the elements of weather and insects like termites, resulting in a lifespan of up to 30 years.
Easy to Maintain
Another advantage of composite fencing is that it is very easy to maintain. Unlike wood fencing, composite fence panels don’t require annual sanding, oiling, painting and staining. As mentioned above, this is due to its low water absorption and resistance to decay.
Composite fencing does need regular cleaning with hot soapy water and a soft brush. You can use household items such as dishwater liquid mixed in warm water. Washing your composite fence panels is much easier due to their vertical position. This also prevents dirt that could stick to the surface when compared to decking. You will need to do this more so in the autumn and spring seasons as dirt debris and leaves drop onto your fence panels.
If there are grease or oil marks on your composite fencing, they are much easier to remove than stains on wood. In most cases, hot soapy water with a soft brush will remove these marks. However, in some cases where it has been left for a long period, you may need to use a compo clean. Many customers use Owatrol compo clean in order to maintain the appearance of their decking.
Another quick and easy way to maintain your composite fencing is to power wash no more than 30 cm away on a 3000 or lower psi. This will speed up your maintenance process, allowing you to relax during the summer months.
Despite the fact second-generation boards are scratch-resistant, abrasions can occur. Abrasions can be difficult to remove when the scratch cuts deep inside the fence. If the scratch is light, you can leave it to fade or disappear by itself. You can also use a soft wire sponge, also referred to as a scourer. This will remove most scratches but will slightly lighten the area. However, this will weather over time.
Composite materials are eco-friendly
As composite fence panels are manufactured using recycled materials, most consumers consider composite fencing as an eco-friendly product helping to reduce waste plastic that would have normally been left in wastelands. Therefore, due to the primary components of the material being recycled from industrial and consumer waste, it aids the reduction of plastic and wood waste in landfills annually. This makes composite material much more environmentally friendly than other materials, such as plastic which is produced using 100% plastic.
Resistant to Insects
Traditional fencing suffers decay and damage not only from moisture but from insects and termites, decreasing the lifespan of your fencing. Composite fencing is resistant to termite damage, meaning it will last longer than traditional wood.
Resistant to warping and cracking
Wood fencing, in particular pine, is known to warp and crack due to changes in temperature over time. A common misconception is that sealing or staining your fence helps to reduce this. Unfortunately, it does nothing to block out the heat from the sun and changes in temperature and will not stop and prevent cracking or warping.
Composite material is known to resist changes in temperature and perform great in harsh conditions and various temperature changes. However, it’s not indestructible, and close attention must be paid to thermal expansion and contraction. Leaving gaps for expansion is essential to a long-lasting composite fence. If installed correctly, your composite fence will stand the test of time through temperature changes, decreasing cracking and warping.
Composite Fencing Is Modem and Aesthetically pleasing
Another advantage of composite fences is that they can be finished in different colours. Composite fencing not only looks great upon purchase but will retain its appearance for many years due to its durability. Not only this, it comes in many various designs which can help your garden to stand out. Composite fencing comes in wood grain, grooved or even a smooth finish. It is important to choose a pattern to complement your outdoor space.
Is composite fencing fade-resistant?
Composite fencing offers fade properties. This means it has kept its stability of colour over the years. Like all composite materials, this does not mean it’s fade-proof. Any outdoor product left outside for a long period will experience colour change.
Composite fence panels are no different and do experience a change in colour. This colour change is not as aggressive when compared to wooden fencing. The colour will lighten, meaning a stone grey will turn to a light grey, and dark grey will lighten, keeping its dark appearance but around 20 to 30% lighter than its original shade. This should be considered upon purchasing, and ensure you do go up some shades to receive the finish colour you are after.
It is finished with a wide variety of colours, and you can get grey, brown, oak, and red composite fences.
Disadvantages of Composite Fencing
Cost of Purchasing Composite Fencing
One setback of a composite fence is that it is more expensive than a wood fence. The upfront cost compared to timber fencing is normally 4 times the amount. However, at Composite Warehouse, we have worked extremely hard and can now offer our concrete system for as low as £99.99, making this the most cost-effective composite fencing system in the UK.
Composite Fences Can Be Damaged or Break
If not installed or maintained properly, a composite fence can be damaged easily. For example, if customers don’t leave gaps for thermal expansion, your composite fence panels will warp or crack.
It is significant to note that composite fence panels can also be damaged with hot objects applied upon them as they can melt and distort their appearance.
Composite materials, not even fire rated, in our experience, outperform wood. This statement is made from feedback in which we have seen on the decking materials, and our formula and materials have outperformed all expectations. However, this does not mean it’s fire resistant, and you should ensure correct measures are taken if a fire was to occur.
Is composite fencing any good? Yes, composite fence panels are a great alternative to traditional timber fencing. It is low maintenance, durable, modern and stylish in appearance. Maintaining your composite fence panels is simple. Cleaning will ensure dirt and debris are removed from its surface to keep any mould, mildew, algae or stains at bay. Despite the fact that some customers usually stain or paint wood fencing, we do not recommend painting composite fence material, as you can simply replace the fence panels with new ones by sliding them out.