Everyone wants to avoid slipping and falling. Taking that into consideration when thinking about a new decking option is important. Made of recycled plastic material and low maintenance, composite decks are a great option when it comes to building decks and choosing material for them – but is composite decking slippery when wet? Brands like Trex offer greater resistance and friction between their board and your foot, even in rain heavy seasons like fall.
Most composite decking material can be slippery, because when it gets wet as the polymer cap of the decking boards repels water, creating potential sipping hazards. If you’re planning to install a deck by a pool or you live somewhere where it rains frequently then you should read more about the safety of using composite decking. And be aware of the necessary precautions when dealing with long winters with a lot of snow and ice.
We’re here to answer your questions about composite decking material being slippery or not.
What Makes Decking Slippery?
Traction is what prevents slipping, and another word for traction is friction. The higher the level of friction between you and the decking, the less likely you are to slip when your decking is wet. The more the decking grips your shoes or feet the better for your safety. Keep in mind all decking can be slippery when wet or for other reasons, just as the ground can be.
The polymer cap on composite decking (some can come uncapped but it is more common to find capped composite decking) does not absorb moisture as wood does. This keeps the composite materials long-lasting and durable while preventing it from rotting, but as the composite repels water, it can leave more for you to slip on than wood as water reduces friction.
For wooden decking, the slipperiness of the surfaces is due to the growth and build-up of algae, lichen, moss or mildew. Leaves and other natural debris can pile up on your deck and the rotting organic material is a major factor in the support of mildew and algae. These factors are not as noticeable during dry weather but in damp environments, they can make your deck a hazard. During the winter, snow that melts and freezes into ice can also make your deck incredibly slippery and dangerous.
Some might think that when installing composite materials they can expect their deck anti-slip as algae will not grow on composite decking or rot as wood does. While it’s correct that composite will not rot, organic matter like leaves, dirt, and pollen that find their way on your deck can still make the surface slippery as they break down naturally.
Is Composite Slippery When Wet?
Yes, composite decking can become slippery when it is wet. So can wood and PVC decking as well. In comparison to decks that are composed of wood or plastic decking, modern composite decking boards are less likely to be slippery.
Because we know that decks become slippery because of the growth of lichen and algae on wood and that deck boards made of timber are extremely absorbent, we know that that can become a problem when they get wet. When not regularly maintained, wood decking boards tend to wear down and develop smooth spots that can be even more slippery when wet. Or when cleaning and maintaining wood decking with things like pressure washing, you open the wood’s natural grooves, making the boards more vulnerable to water absorption making it potentially even more slippery.
Most modern composite decking now has textured surfaces and finishes that provide more traction, making them slip-resistant. Compared to early-generation PVC decking surfaces, modern composite decking’s wood fibre content reduces its plastic component’s making it have a more rough surface texture for more traction and reduces the tendency for the decking to split when there are fluctuations in temperature.
Most composite decking have capping materials that can provide more traction on their surface. The durable capping can have an almost rubbery quality to it to keep the composite decking boards resistant to minor damages and minimizing the chance of moisture being absorbed by the boards which is one cause for slipping. The textured surface of the boards gives them enough traction to be as or more safe than wood by keeping your feet in place in wet or damp environments.
Is Composite Decking Slippery in the Winter?
How do I Make my Composite Deck Less Slippery?
Keep it Clean
As most slips are caused by moulds and lichens on your deck’s surface, the best way to keep your deck slip-resistant is to keep it clean. Remember that algae and mould will not feed on composite materials, pollen, leaves and other debris that sit on your deck’s surface and support the growth of these to sit on the surface. Sweeping off debris and pressure washing to prevent any build-up of lichen or algae is the best way to prevent this issue. You can also apply a solution of liquid detergent and warm water to the surface of your deck to discourage microorganisms from sprouting on your deck.
No decking is guaranteed slip-free as water and snow will make any surface slippery, but regular cleaning maintenance can reduce your risk of slips and falls on your composite deck by a lot.
Space Between your Deck Boards
Apply Moss, Mildew or Mould remover
Non-Slip Paint or Anti-Slip Coating
You can purchase and install anti-slip paint to apply to decks if you want to change up your decking composite. It can be applied with a roller or brush after you have cleaned your deck surface to make sure the paint will stick. Once it is dry it will have a more textured finish that will aid in preventing slipping.
To avoid permanent changes to your deck, another solution is that you can install slip resistance inserts or mats. They provide another layer of texture on top of composite decks to prevent slips and falls when the boards are completely slick. These can be removed in the more dry months when the weather is better for you and your family to enjoy your deck.
Brands like Trex offer low-maintenance composites that are slip-resistant even with plastic material capping. Need a contractor’s opinion? Contact us about any composite maintenance questions you might have.