Composite decking materials have many selling points, and being “pest-resistant” is one of them that helps sway a consumer’s decision. But are they truly 100% pest-resistant?
Composite materials are an amalgam of plastic and wood fibers. Since it is a man-made product most pests are not attracted to it. Below is some information on different pests and how they react to composite decking.
Termites – An infestation of termites in composite decking is very rare. There have been reported instances of termites “nibbling,” but they prefer natural wood because it contains cellulose, which is what the termites are looking to eat. Below is a picture from a study that MoistureShield decking performed. They used a MoistureShield product, untreated pine, and pressure-treated lumber. The composite decking showed no damage from termites. The pressure-treated lumber showed that the termites did start to feed on it. But the untreated pine was riddled with holes from the termites.
Carpenter Bees – Carpenter bees are another hazard to wood decking. Technically, they do not eat the wood like the termites do. They bore holes about the size of a dime in the wood and a foot or so in, they then make their nests inside the wood. While the carpenter bees do prefer unfinished, natural wood, they have been known to nest inside composite and PVC decking. They leave a tell-tale pile of “saw-dust” below the hole they have bored. There are traps and treatments that you can purchase at a hardware store if this happens.
Raccoons, Skunks, and Opossums – While it is very uncommon for these large rodents to chew through composite decking material, they can build nests under your deck. This can create many problems, such as chewing on other materials (wiring, insulation, etc.). They can carry diseases and will defend their nests if they feel threatened.
Mice, Rats, and Squirrels – As with the larger rodents, it is unusual for them to attack composite decking. But they can also carry diseases, so if you notice signs of them, contact a pest control company.
Here is a picture of a piece of composite that our crew recently removed from a deck. You can see on the corners that some type of larger pest has been gnawing for a while.
In conclusion, composite decking is not 100% pest-resistant, but it certainly offers a much higher level of protection than a wood deck. If you would like to discuss building your own composite deck, please contact Decks by Schmillen at 719-440-6966.