Will Your Composite Deck Fade this Summer? From Vibrant to Dull.


What you see at the store, on the shelf, or on screen is what you want at home. You want it to look exactly the same when you get it home. And continue the same vibrant colours you fell in love with for years to come. 

The same is true with composite decking. You fell in love with the colour and look at the store. You want that colour to last forever, never changing. The composite decking samples you agonized overall summer will not fade to something else. Your decking fading to a colour you never selected or fell in love with.

Composite decking will fade from the sun’s UV rays, lighting in colour over time. Most fading will occur in the first 12-16 weeks after installation but be limited to less than 5 Delta E (CIE) units. Fading by a degree hard to perceive outside of decking-to-decking comparisons.

This has not always been the case with composite decking. The earlier generations of decking faded much more from sun exposure. The decking installed in spring would be considerably lighter by fall and could continue fading. In a few years time, the deck in your backyard looking much different than the one you imagined in the store.

But that is a long time ago. Now quality decking is designed to be “fade resistance.” Not to be misunderstood as fade-proof or not fading after being installed. But fading less than other decking, especially wood or earlier generations of decking.

Trex, one of the first innovators of low maintenance decking, says it well about past product.

“our early-generation composite deck boards–products such as Trex Accents®, Trex Origins®, Trex Contours®, Trex Profiles® and Trex Brasilia®–experience a weathering process”

TrexOpens in a new tab.

I love Trex’s honesty about the original decking offering. That it did weather and fade over time. Something that was not intended with their revolutionary decking product, but it did.

But Trex did not leave it at that. No, Trex went back to the drawing board and lab. To figure out a solution to composite decking fading in the sun. And what they created has been followed by almost all other manufactures of composite decking.

“[Early generations of composite decking] do not have the high-performance shell with enhanced fade, stain and mold resistance… [current decking] have the protective shell technology that provides superior fade and stain resistance.”

TrexOpens in a new tab.

Capping has been one of the single and most considerable improvements in composite decking, in my humble opinion. There have been few other innovations that I have seen with decking that has change the products so significantly.

The cap protects the decking from fading in the sun and enhances its beauty like none other. To the point where capped composite deckingOpens in a new tab. can be selected strictly for appearance’s sake. For how it improves the look of your deck. It is that good looking.

The good news is how well the cap protects the decking. To a point where almost universally, composite decking companies are warranting it. Not that the composite decking will not fade, but that there is a limit of how much its colour will lighten. You are not left at the wimps of nature and the sun. Composite decking now will stay very close, like very close to the colour that you pick in the store. After hours and years of testing, they are promising it.

“The Product’s color will not fade from light and weathering exposure, as measured by a color change of more than 5 Delta E (CIE) units. While the Product is designed to resist fading, no material is fade proof when subjected to years of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays and the elements.”

TimberTechAzek

This is almost a carbon copy of all composite decking warranties. Yes, they may have changed a few words here or there. But the short of it is composite decking currently sold will only fade, to a max, 5 Delta E (CIE) units.

Trex, who admitted their original decking fade in the sun but now is promising more.

“The Product is designed to resist fading,and will not in any event fade by more than 5 Delta E (CIE) units.”

Trex WarrantyOpens in a new tab.

They haven’t figured out yet how to prevent composite decking from fading. But are limiting how much fading and weathering will occur. Capped composite colour will not continuously be changing, from season to season. After one full sunny summer, the decking colour will fade a little. Yes, there is original fading, but limited in how much.

To better understand they are promising with less than 5 Delta E colour change, here is a statement from ViewSonic whose existence is about colour.

“A Delta E between 3 and 6 is usually considered an acceptable number in commercial reproduction, but the color difference may be perceived by printing and graphic professionals. (Note: Human vision is more sensitive to color differences if two colors actually touch each other).”

ViewSonicOpens in a new tab.

In commercial printing and graphics, a Delta between 3-6 is considered acceptable. Capped composite deckingOpens in a new tab. fading within this range or less. The colour contrast between boards often being as little as the difference between production groups. With minimal fading, to the point where it can only be seen when a new decking is held beside the old decking.

Fortress Apex decking after 3 000 hours of UVA/UVB testing Apex boards even had better results. Only fading Delta E 0.44-47, with less than one being unnoticeable to the naked eye. Meaning in Fortress tests, after the equivalent of a full summer of sun, you could not even see the difference from the original boards. The decking being the same colour that you fell in love with and picked.

Just to be clear, Fortress warranties the same level of fading as everyone else.

“The Product’s color will not fade from light and exposure to the elements of nature more than 5 Delta E (CIE) Units. Importantly, while the Product is designed to resist fading, Fortress Building Products does not warrant the Product to be fade-proof as no material is fade-proof when exposed to UV rays and other elements of nature.”

FortressOpens in a new tab.

The hope is that the decking you install performs more like their lab test, which is better than their warranty.

Composite Decking That Will Fade More in the Sun

As with earlier versions of un-capped composite decking, there are still some composite decking sold that will fade in the sun.

MoistureShield’s Vantage™ line is such a decking. MoistureShield does not cap their Vintage line of composite decking and is forthright that it will fade in the sun. 

” MoistureShield Vantage is designed to weather over time like real wood.”

MoistureShieldOpens in a new tab.

Because of this, they recommend that you do not cover over leave furniture on your deck for the first 3-6 months to allow the decking to lighten consistently. To prevent dark spots from forming on the decking. Similar to that fresh section of carpet under your couch in the living room.

At the same time, if a darker spot does appear on the deck. Move the furniture or mat that is protecting the decking from the sun’s UV, and it will lighten to match in 3 to 6 months. A season of sun and it will all be faded the same.

Speaking of fading, MoistureShield decking has good pictures of before and after fadingOpens in a new tab.. Giving you a good idea of how much the decking will lighten. Be warned, though, how much decking fades is in relation to sun exposure. Just because it can lighten that much does not mean it will. Sometimes there is enough shade, limiting the extent of fading.

But for composite decking not designed to fade, warranties expressing this.

Composite Decking Warranties Prorated Against Fading

Almost all capped composite decking will stay within the 5 Delta E range for the first ten years of use. Meaning you can expect that for the first ten years there will be minimal change. The first year with the most and then after that minimal change in colour or fading.

So much, so that almost universally, composite decking is 100% warrantied against fading for the first ten years. After that, the replacement because of fading is reduced. Often fully expiring after 25 years of use. Which is pretty good.

TimberTech’s PVC AzekOpens in a new tab. line and MoistureShield’s Capped Vision are prorated against fading for 50 years. Like I said, prorated, so after 10 years, they will pay less and less in replacement cost.

The first 10 years of little fading is quite reassuring. Few of us will actually remember our deck’s exact colour after barbequing and sunning on it for 10 summers. Staying true that long will carry us for the next 15 or 40 years. Depending on the quality of the decking cap.

But even with this low level of fading, we can do things to minimize our composite decking’s colour fading.

Reducing Composite Decking Colour Fading

Most of this will be of most value for the first summer or 4-6 months. The critical time when most fading will occur on composite decking. Taking extra precautions at first will pay dividends for years to come.

Minimize Matts and Furniture for the Deck’s First Summer

Not saying you can’t set up and enjoy your deck right after building it. But limiting how many patio chairs you set up will allow the decking to fade consistently. Preventing the awkward, dark spots on the decking.

Move furniture around can also help. Giving equal sun exposure, helping the decking to fade evenly. Every weekend or try a different sitting arrangement. Find out all the endless possibilities while exposing all the decking to the sun. By fall, you will know the perfect arrangement or a new enjoyable routine, playing musical chairs on your deck.

Movement is most important with mats as they block the sun the most. Becoming most noticeable if left for a long time and then finally move, will be most noticeable.

Grill Matts Reducing Decking Fading By Protecting From Extreme Heat

On the flip side, barbeque matsOpens in a new tab. can help to protect the decking from the heat of the grill and dripping grease.

“Exposure to Heat: Direct or indirect contact with extreme heat sources (over 275 degrees) may cause fading and may damage the surface of the Product, and any effects of such exposure are expressly excluded from coverage under this warranty.”

Trex WarrantyOpens in a new tab.

Placing a barbeque matt under your barbeque will help protect the decking. An insulating grill matOpens in a new tab. will minimize fading of the decking under the barbeque. Plus makes clean up easier from accidental dripping.

Refresh Composite Decking’s Colour with Water

Sometimes it’s not the decking itself that has dull and faded but the build-up of dirt on the decking. This can be more than mud from your dog’s muddy paws. Small particles floating around land and slowly build on the decking. Slowly dulling the decking colour.

Fortunately, the solution is easy. A bucket of water and soap. Even a better a pressure washer making short work of cleaning dirt build up on the decking. Just make sure to check the correct pressure level before spraying.

However, you choose to wash your decking. Cleaning will renew the look and colour of your decking. Making your tired and faded composite decking look brandOpens in a new tab. new.  

Ryan Nickel

A Red Seal carpenter, passionate about building decks to be enjoyed.

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