Unique in the field of composite decking is TruNorth composite decking. Calling for a review to better understand if TruNorth decking is the best decking for your backyard deck.
Brief Introduction to TruNorth as a Company
TruNorth is headquartered and manufactures its decking boards at Brantford, Ontario, where it has been extruding composite material for over 50 years.
What is TruNorth Decking Made of?
TruNorth has 3 decking lines, Clubhouse is their PVC line we will be dealing with separately. Click the link to learn more about Clubhouse decking.
Here we will focus on their TruEcono and TruNorth Solid Core composite decking. A truly unique composite material.
Composed of a blend of Arkansas rice hulls and recycled (95%) high density polyethylene (HDPE) with UV inhibitors. Unlike the more common wood fibres, rice hulls absorb less moisture reducing the chance of mould and other rot-related issues. The rice hulls also are more durable, resisting impact damage better than wood-based composite.
TruEcono is a hollow core decking capped on both sides. With 4 rectangle cavity reducing material and cost of the decking.
TruNorth Solid Core, like the name suggests is a solid board. Similar in design as Trex Transcend or Fiberon Sanctuary lines. The most significant difference is wood grain capping on both sides. As TruNorth points out, if a board becomes damaged, you can loosen the clips, slide the board out, flip and reinstall. Saving you from expensive decking replacement.
Unlike most composite decking that can be installed on joists 16″ o.c., TruNorth recommends 12″ o.c. substructure.
“Joist Span 12″ on-center is recommended for maximum customer enjoyment… 16″ on-center joist spans are covered under warranty”
CCMC report testing is also based on 12″ (300mm) joists spacing.
Leaving me to think that you are better off installing a few extra joists, minimizing deflection of the decking. But it does look like it’s optional. If the budget doesn’t allow 12″ (300mm) on centre, or your re-decking an existing deck 16″ (400mm) is fine but expect it to be a little softer when you walk on it.
To be fair, Fiberon PVC decking is the same, can be installed 16″ (400mm) but recommended that you install 12″ (300mm). With any decking, more joists will make the deck firmer.
The rice hulls and plastic have an okay flame-spread rating of 85, Class C. This is important in Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). Just to be clear, it is still burnable. Southern Yellow Pine is 70, Class B often used in campfires.
The cap has a slightly better flame rating, 60, but is only a thin layer over the decking.
Decking traction is often overlooked, but it is one of the more critical decking characteristics for safety.
|TruNorth Slip Resistance||0.57||0.53|
For reference CCMC uses 0.5 as the bar for evaluating decking traction. As you can see both in the rain and sun, TruNorth has a descent traction rating. There are composite decking with better traction, click the link to see, but TruNorth will minimize slipping and sliding on your deck.
How Many Colours of Decking Does TruNorth have?
Unlike many brands of composite decking that limit colours to decking lines, TruNorth has the same 12 colours for both their lines, TruEcono and TruNorth Solid Core. Giving you the ability to use the lower-cost boards for the field and finish up the ends with the same colour picture board solid board.
- Stone Grey
- Red Bordeaux
- Ash Grey
- Amazon Grey
- Tropical Walnut
- Brazilian Cherry
In both solid and variegated boards, you have the classic browns, greys, reds and solid decking shades.
To see all 12 colours check out the TruNorth gallery, click the link.
Pros and Cons of TruNorth Decking
Composite decking has many pros and cons, but here are a few ones specific to TruNorth.
- Durability against impact damage
- Cooler boards with Heat Blocking Technology*
- Capping on all 4 sides
- Reversible boards with Wood grain texture on top and bottom
- Low moisture absorption with rice husks
Complete capping and low water absorption are some of the features you would expect from a PVC decking but are a nice upgrade for composite.
The ability to flip damaged boards, I think, is an under-appreciated feature. Even during constructing, the ability to flip a board to hide minor forklift damage saves running to the store to exchange an overwise good board.
*My experience is all composite decking gets hot in the sun regardless of “technology” or additives. Both Azek and MoistureShield make similar claims, but the real difference is the board’s colour. Lighter colours like Stone Grey will do more for a cooler decking when walking barefoot. Or slip on the crocs.
- Additional Framing
Recommended 12″ (300mm) framing is not a deal-breaker but is something that will add to the cost of construction.
This is a Canadian composite company and is only available in limited cities in the States. Even in Canada, you cannot buy TruNorth in Saskatchewan, Quebec or the Maritimes. Even in provinces with retailers, there are limited locations.
How Long is TruNorth Warranty?
TruNorth Warranty is similar to Trex’s, with a 25-year prorated warranty including fading and staining.
There are a few interesting differences.
For the first 10 years, TruNorth includes labour and disposal of defective boards.
TruNorth warranty is transferable, without limits. Most companies limit to original owner or 1 at most. But TruNorth fully warranties their product for the full length of the warranty, not just how long you own the property.
Like Trex for staining, you will need to clean spills with a week to prevent damage. And TruNorth is very clear. Their decking is not stain-proof. If not cared for, staining can occur.
Summary of Reviewing TruNorth Decking
The biggest highlights with TruNorth are rice husks instead of wood fibres, plus the full capping. The added advantage of wood grain on both sides makes the boards reversible.
I also like all 12 colours available for all decking lines. I cannot tell you home many times I have seen homeowners forced to “upgrade” to a more expensive line to get the colour they wanted. Not with TruNorth.
With a warranty similar to many of the top composite decking brands, you do not need to compromise using TruNorth.
The biggest drawback is the additional framing. Making it less ideal for replacing rotten wood decking on a good substructure. Plus, you will need to buy a few extra joists when building new.
Overall, if you are in Canada, TruNorth is a good composite decking option with many PVC decking advantages.