Commercial Grade Composite Decking
Meccano’s Choice – Esthec Terrace
The flood of composite decking products that have come onto the market over the last 5 years, has highlighted the strong trend towards low maintenance building materials – especially for commercial projects. It has also left specifiers heads spinning with so many choices & endless samples of similar looking products.
We had many requests to review composite decking, mostly from architects who experienced issues with composites on their projects. While most were doing their job to reduce & sometimes even eliminate maintenance, they still had many of the drawbacks of timber – twisting, warping, fading & scratching. None of the WPC’s we reviewed were covered under warranty for twisting, warping or fading either which was a big red flag!
WPC (Wood Plastic Composites) obtain benefits by mixing a plastic like PVC with an organic matter (timber), creating closed cell fibers that eliminate rot & decay – there by increasing the lifespan of the material. In my opinion, the trade off is in the aesthetics, in short, they look like plastic & lack natural appeal. The other trade of is that timber can be sanded & given a new life of color where as WPC’s can’t; and the aesthetics seem to deteriorate over time as they are scratched and fading occurs. This also makes it near impossible to match the color if a plank is damaged and needs replacing. The other main issue we found was surface temperature with complaints that WPC’s get very hot. In the technical specs, the coefficient of thermal expansion supported this which also showed why planks would twist and warp if room for expansion was not allowed for during installation (gaps of 5-10mm should be left between end to end joins).
Commercial buildings benefit most from low maintenance & here is where the choices decrease dramatically. Certification was lacking with many & the durability was not up to commercial requirements.
We found a composite decking that was very different to WPC – Esthec Terrace. Esthec is not only a true commercial grade in every aspect of the term, but also marine grade. It has been developed over 50 years in the marine industry & does not have any timber or PVC. The structural base is made of fiberglass & the top layer is 85% natural material (natural fibers, polymers & resins). Aesthetics are exceptional – by far the most realistic we’ve seen!
This product not only ticked all our boxes but exceeded expectations in many areas:
- 25 year residential / 15 year commercial warranty (twisting, warping, fading, termites, splintering, rot / decay)
- No timber & No PVC – The top layer is made with 25% recycled content – 85% natural materials – 25 different components including natural fibres, polymers & resins
- Very stable, strong & completely waterproof ‘glass fibre’ structural base – minimal expansion / contraction, will not twist or warp, only requires a light timber sub frame and can also be “floated” over concrete”
- Zero Clearance Height – means the clips can be glued directly onto a concrete screed or waterproof membrane, making it well suited to balcony’s over habitable rooms, or around the edge of pools (we don’t know of any other composite or hardwood that can do this – most need a min of 400mm clearance for air circulation). Adjustable pedestals with battens (Esthec supply fibreglass battens) can also be used with Esthec to bring the deck up to FFL – a full deck structure can be achieved within the standard 150mm set down!
- Commercial grade with extremely high durability, stain & scratch resistance (can also be lightly sanded)
- U.V stable – will not Fade, so if a plank gets damaged and needs to be replaced it will be the same color (click system allows one individual plank to be removed)
- Surface temperature similar to timber (will not heat up like PVC based products)
- R13 / P4 / C & D1 Slip Ratings – Certified & easily exceeds Australian Standards for all commercial projects & all 4 different slip ratings
- 600kg point load / 5.5kpa load rating @ 500mm centres (complies for all commercial projects)
- Fire Rated ASISO 9239 (Decking applications) – certified & easily complies / exceeds Australian Standards for all commercial projects.
- Fire Rated AS/NZS 1530.3 (Cladding applications) – certified & complies for most commercial projects.
- Higher up front cost, but life cycle cost is lower than timber (no ongoing maintenance or replacement costs)
- Premium aesthetic with 7 different colours (each colour has 3 different shades for a depth of variation)
- 50-year track record – this material has stood the test of time in the marine industry, in some of the world’s harshest environments!!
Esthec Image Slideshow:
Esthec Terrace further information:
Esthec Terrace Assembly Document: