Capped Vs Uncapped Composite Decking: What's The Difference?

It's easy to become overwhelmed while looking for composite decking, as there are so many different types, finishes, and colors to choose from that it's difficult to know which one is right for your needs. We feel that understanding the differences between capped vs uncapped composite decking is a good place to start when trying to discover the right option for you.

There is a solid reason why composite decking is so popular this year. Composite decking is sturdy, low-maintenance, and environmentally friendly. Although it's more costly than standard wood decking, the longer life more than makes up for it in the long run.

In terms of design and kind, there is a wide range of composite decking to choose from. So how can you determine which decking to choose from the rest of the crowd?

This article explains the primary difference of capped vs uncapped composite decking, as well as how to choose the best option for your situation.

Capped Vs Uncapped Composite Decking

Based on the market for PE composite wood, capped vs uncapped composite decking may be distinguished. Your project may benefit from your knowledge of the distinctions between capped and uncapped composite decking.

When compared to more recent versions of composite decking, uncapped composites are the most fragile and are thus subject to damage from fading, stains, and mold growth. However, the core of capped composite decking is covered by an additional layer of material that is permanently affixed.

To protect the inner core of our composite decking boards, we use an innovative premium shield encasing on all four sides of the boards. The core and shield are extruded at the same time at very high temperatures. This indicates that no harmful chemicals or adhesives were utilized in the production process. Choose from a wide range of vibrant colors for your decks.

Capped vs. uncapped composite decking is likely to be one of your first considerations, and going with an uncapped option might be costly. When the core of the wood is not protected by a cap, it is exposed to the elements and susceptible to decay caused by UV rays, moisture, bacteria, fungi, and mold.

The color will fade, but the structure and composition will be damaged or perhaps destroyed. There have already been several serious issues in the wood composite sector during the last few years. In the long run, the distinction of capped vs uncapped composite decking is going to become much more apparent.

There are several issues, including:

  1. Crumbling
  2. Fading
  3. Mold, Fungus, and Mildew
  4. Cracking
  5. Scratching
  6. Staining
  7. Swelling and cupping
  8. Cracking In The CAD Layers

 1.    Crumbling

First-generation composite boards disintegrate when exposed to UV light and water. Adding too many binding agents and antioxidants to the composite material is to blame. In the end, moisture and UV rays penetrate the wood fibers, causing the composite decking to rot and disintegrate.

Even after it has weathered, a person's fingernail may readily scratch the first-generation composite decking.

2.    Fade In The Color

It is because of the wood fiber composition that the color fades away. To prevent the wood from fading, producers often brush their boards, which destroys their plastic, enabling the wood fibers to be visible on the surface of their boards. Due to the manufacturer's incapacity to manage the uniformity of the colorant and raw materials used, the fading is inconsistent.

3.    Mold and Mildew Fungus

Most fungus, mildew, and mold issues occur in humid regions or in areas that are experiencing climate change. Due to their unprotected state and lack of sealer, the wood's fibers are deteriorating due to the weather.

A lot of people have tried using deck cleaners to get rid of mold on their decks, but as the cleaner wears off the mold will only attack the other layers underneath.

4.    Cracking

To increase the board's rigidity, several producers include calcium/filler, although this makes the board more brittle. Because of this, if the installers attempt to drill into the board, it may break.

5.    Scratching

To some extent, this is owing to the wood fibers that make up the first generation composite's scratch resistance. The fibers of wood have a poor scratch resistance by nature, and the coarseness of the surface created by brushing or sanding the board reduces the scratch resistance even more.

6.    Staining

Any stains will be permanently absorbed by the wood fiber or infiltrate between the wood fiber and polymer if there is no cap protection in place.

Capping the top half of the board does increase stain, scratch, and UV resistance, but the underside and grooves of the board are exposed to the environment and that produces a dry and wet appearance on the top and bottom.

7.    Swelling and Cupping

A virgin engineering grade polymer is used in the shield's construction since it has a very low water absorption rate. The shield of a half-capped board only protects the top, leaving the bottom exposed like that of a first-generation composite board.

Because the bottom of the board is constantly absorbing moisture, while the top is nearly dry, the board will have a cupping/twisting effect comparable to real wood on a humid day. In extreme cases, this impact may tear/split the core into two pieces.

8.    Cracking in The CAD Layers

A rip in the cap layer might occur as a result of the inner core's increasing moisture content.

Another possible explanation is that mold design technology in their country is less sophisticated. Allowing moisture to permeate via an uncapped groove does not prevent moisture absorption over the whole board. As a result, swelling, cupping, and cracking may occur in the future.

Cost of Capped Vs Uncapped Composite Decking

To be expected, the cost of capped composite decking is much greater than that of uncapped composite decking. Expect to spend anywhere between R1000 to R2000 for a square meter of uncapped decking (and R900 to R1500 per square meter for capped decking boards)

Are the additional expenses justified? Maybe. A few considerations must be made before making the selection.

However, it's important to remember that the decking planks are just a small component of the overall deck. Labor is a significant portion of the cost if you hire a professional installer.

You may expect to pay about R700 to R900 per square meter for uncapped composite decking or R900 to R1200 per square meter for capped composite decking when labor and basic supplies are excluded.

Second, consider the foundation. A well-maintained treated wood deck should last at least as long as the decking itself, with wear and tear beginning to appear after around 15 years. As an alternative, poor-quality wood might lead to a deck that has to be replaced every 10 years.

In addition, there's a third factor that few people consider: price at which something may be sold again If you're thinking of selling your property shortly, the kind of decking you install might have a considerable influence on the amount of money you receive.

Potential purchasers would likely discount lower-quality composite products by 15 to 25 percent. Investing in high-quality decking will undoubtedly impress prospective buyers and raise the value of your property.

To put it another way, if you're planning on selling your home in the next few years, it's worth spending a little extra money now to get the best possible return on your investment.

How to Keep Your Composite Decking from Getting Worn Out

Don't do the following to prolong the life of your deck:

  1. Remove ice and snow from your composite deck using shovels or other metal equipment.
  2. When washing your deck, it is crucial to avoid letting soapy water or any other cleaning chemicals dry on the surface. Once your deck has been cleaned, soak the surface to remove all of the cleaning agents.
  3. When using a pressure washer, keep the psi below 1,500 to avoid damaging the concrete. The nozzle should never be placed less than 12 inches above the deck.
  4. The crevices between the decking planks should be kept clear of dirt, leaves, and other debris. Keeping the spaces open will enable rainfall to drain and keep your deck clean.


As a result, there is no correct response to the comparison of capped vs uncapped composite decking. Capped composite decking has several advantages, but these benefits are only seen over lengthy periods (15 years or more) or when more complicated designs are required.

There are warranties against wear and tear and UV fading, but the decking will likely be useable long after these periods have gone. Hollow composite decking will likely serve you well if you are seeking a basic design at ground level or near to it, with the additional money spent on high-end decking not providing that much value.

Capping is the only way to ensure the longevity of your decking system over at least 25 years. This product's warranties against wear and tear, UV fading, and waterproofing make it ideal for high-traffic areas like patios or decks where people may be cooking.


Buy the best composite wood decking board from The Composite Company in Johannesburg and Pretoria, right here.

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