Slipping and sliding on a deck is no fun at all! Whether you have a pool that causes water to end up on your deck in the summer, or it rains often where you live, or you're always dealing with ice and snow, it helps to have a composite deck that doesn't feel like slick shiny plastic underfoot. And if you have a family, not having to worry about safety when kids and loved ones are on the deck is priceless.
Many of the decks I install these days are made of composite decking, due to its moisture resistant qualities, which sometimes causes my clients to raise an eyebrow or two due to composite’s reputation for slipperiness. Fortunately, there is now decking that uses a unique capping material that provides a grippier surface than most other composites, creating a composite deck that stands up to the weather and keeps feet firmly in place. Low maintenance and excellent traction—sounds pretty good, right?
Slippery Composite Decking
Like most materials, composite decking has undergone an evolution, getting progressively better over time. Along the way it picked up a reputation for being slippery, which is fair, since the early generations of composite could be pretty slick. Here’s how composite has evolved over time:
- First Generation Composite Decking: Composite decking’s reputation for slipperiness comes in large part from the first generation of the material. These products tended to absorb moisture easily, making them easy to slip on. Water absorption also led to lots of problems with mold and moss, taking the slippery factor up a few notches.
- Hard Plastic Capped Second-Generation Composites: Adding a rigid, impermeable capping material to the outside surface of composite decking goes a long way toward keeping excess moisture out of the decking boards and making them less slippery. However, the capping surface of many models was—and in some cases, still is—made out of shiny, hard plastic material that lacked
- Cheap Second-Generation Composite Capping: When traction is a concern, it’s clear that not all capping is created equal. Some capping isn’t well connected to the core of the board, causing the material to peel off. Other capping is sensitive to scratching and gouging, and when this happens, gaps open up in the capping, allowing moisture to enter and creating moist and slippery sections of deck.
Composite Decking Doesn’t Have to Be Slippery
Ultimately, a better cap was one of the main requirements needed to bring composite decking to the next level when it came to slip-resistance. In the past decade or so, a resinous capping material has been developed with technology brought to the decking world from the auto industry. Bamboo-based composite decking with this type of capping is now my go-to. Here’s what’s great about it:
- Resistance to Damage and Mold: Due to its rubbery quality, it possesses heightened resistance to scraping and gouging, reducing the risk of moisture entering the board and wreaking its slip-inducing havoc. It’s able to take a licking and keep on ticking, meaning that barbecues, pool parties, dancing, and heavy use of all kinds aren’t going to break it down with any speed. While moss and mold can develop on the surface, they have very little to attach to, meaning they clean off very easily with a push broom and water.
- Grippy Surface: Enhanced resin has a texture that really grips the foot, providing a kind of friction more similar to what you’d get when running your hand across the rubbery padding on gym floors than to the surface texture found on most composite or vinyl decking. This quality gives it more than enough friction to function safely in the rainy, humid Pacific Northwest or alongside a well-used family swimming pool.
- No Peeling: It may very well be due to the slow extrusion process (how these composite decking boards are manufactured), but I’ve never known capping material to peel off of these high-quality boards as has been the case with many first generation and even some second generation composite decking boards I’ve worked with. Thankfully, even if that were to happen, these bamboo-based decking boards have such a dense core, they would probably be just fine without a protective cap!
This durable, slip-resistant decking material is known as Infinity Decking. Produced by Fortress Building Products, it pairs a highly dense, water-resistant bamboo composite core with an incredibly durable, high-tech rubbery resin capping, providing protection from the elements and safety from slipping. For projects that extend beyond the decking boards, I highly recommend taking a look at Fortress’ other innovative building materials, like fencing, railing, and decorative hardware. Fortress is always looking to make better products from better materials using better designs, and I’ve had a lot of success—and fun—trying out their products.