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Composite fencing, like any building material, has its advantages and disadvantages that should be considered before buying. It is produced using a mix of recycled wood and HDPE Plastic, which are 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 several finishes such as grooved, smooth and even wood grain patterns.  If you are unsure whether or not to opt for composite fencing, this article will outline the benefits and downfalls of installing composite fencing in your garden, to help your decision-making process. 

Advantages of Composite Fencing

Durability  

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.

Wood has low performance, especially when it comes to durability. This means your fence will have a short life span if not maintained correctly. This is due to water absorption, which will weaken and soften the materials, resulting in the decay and rotting of your fence. 

Composite fencing has excellent resistance to the elements of weather and insects, resulting in a lifespan of up to 30 years when maintained correctly.

Maintenance

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 or staining. As mentioned above, this is due to its low water absorption and resistance to decay.  

Composite fencing does require regular cleaning with hot, soapy water and a soft brush. You can use household items such as dishwater liquid mixed with 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. Maintenance is usually required more often in the autumn and spring seasons, as dirt, debris and leaves drop onto your fence panels more frequently.

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 to maintain the appearance of their decking as it is effective yet safe to use on composite decking.

Another quick and easy way to maintain your composite fencing is to power wash your decking. Ensure you are at least 30 cm away and on a 3000 or lower psi to avoid causing damage to the surface of your composite decking. 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 still 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. 

Environmental Impact

As composite fence panels are manufactured using recycled materials, most consumers consider composite fencing as an eco-friendly product that helps 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. 

Resistance 

Traditional wood fencing suffers decay and damage not only from moisture but also from insects, decreasing the lifespan of your fencing. Composite fencing is resistant to insect damage, meaning it will last longer than traditional wood.

Composite material is known to resist temperature changes and perform greatly in harsh conditions, 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.  

Aesthetics  

Another advantage of composite fencing is that it 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.

Composite is manufactured in various designs to suit every homeowner’s taste. Composite fencing comes in wood grain, grooved or with a smooth surface finish. With composite fencing, you can add a modern appearance or even keep it simple and traditional to blend into your surrounding landscape. 

Fading

Composite fencing offers fade-resistant properties, meaning it will maintain its stability of colour over the years. Like all composite materials, this does not mean it’s fade-proof. Most outdoor products that are exposed to the sun’s UV rays will experience colour changes through fading.

Composite fence panels will experience a slight colour change over time. However, this colour change is not as aggressive when compared to wooden fencing. The colour will lighten up to an estimated 20–30% lighter than its original shade. This should be considered upon purchasing and ensure you do go up a few shades to receive the finish you are after.  

Disadvantages of Composite Fencing

Cost

One setback of composite fencing is that it is more expensive than a wood fence in terms of upfront cost. Although composite fencing will usually have a higher upfront cost in comparison to other materials on the market, it is an investment and will save you money down the line.

When installing composite fencing, there are no hidden costs such as extensive maintenance costs required with wood fencing. Due to the durability and resistance of composite fencing, you are less likely to have to pay for replacements and repairs in its lifespan which will also save you money. 

Conclusion  

Composite fence panels are a great alternative to traditional timber fencing, due to their low maintenance, durability and modern appearance. Maintaining your composite fence panels is easy, requiring simple cleaning to retain their appearance. Composite fencing is an investment that will pay for itself for many years to come. 

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