DesignBoard Collection

The Secret Ingredient That Makes DesignBoard Composite Decking So Tough

“So many people assume that composite decking is composite decking,” says DesignBoard Manager Antony Pasquini. This is often the prevailing opinion, but there can be a world of difference between different deck boards. The secret is in the ingredients used to make up the composite.

DesignBoard side-profile; hard-wearing and made using waste rice husks.

One of the most common materials for decking is wood-plastic composite (WPC). This contains wood fibre, with bamboo often the source. “Bamboo is reasonably hard-wearing,” explains DesignBoard Manager Antony Pasquini, “but it’s also reasonably porous.” This is the weak spot.

Water is the enemy for wooden decking, and it’s the same for WPC composite decking. Water absorption reduces durability and weakens the material as the freeze/thaw action in cold weather and the expansion and contraction in damp and dry conditions affect dimensional stability and encourage warping. There’s a risk of microbes accelerating internal decay, and, to add insult to injury, the wood contains tannins that become bleached, and the decking fairly rapidly loses the colour you carefully chose it for.

By contrast, DesignBoard contains no wood at all. Our contemporary decking has a very natural look, with an attractive textured matt finish, and this is largely down to the rice husks that make up 50% of the composite.

Anne Keenan used DesignBoard at the 2018 RHS Malvern Spring Festival, paired here with hard-wearing porcelain from London Stone

Rice husks (or hulls) are the part of the plant that protects the rice grain from water. “They’re very dense,” says Antony, “and degrade very slowly. And rice husks keep expansion and contraction to a minimum.” Husks contain silica, making the composite very strong and hard-wearing and much less porous than WPC, resulting in a contemporary decking that’s long-lasting, very fade-resistant and robust.

Rice husks also come from a natural and, obviously, quickly renewable natural source. A waste product of rice agriculture, they’re available in abundance. That gives this composite decking some rather appealing environmental credentials, especially as it’s 100% recyclable.

Often overlooked when considering decking is the sub-frame. We’ve come across companies that, slightly confusingly, recommend wooden sub-frames for their composite decking, which when you think of it, is an odd idea, given that the attraction of this outdoor decking is its long-lasting and low-maintenance properties.


DesignBoard is a versatile product that can also be installed on the vertical – as seen here by Martyn Wilson & Keyscapes, BBC Gardener’s World Live, 2018

So, we recommend a composite sub-frame that uses recycled plastic. Completely hidden, its lack of aesthetics couldn’t matter less and you gain an extremely long-lasting foundation that won’t rot or degrade like timber.

Which makes this a good moment to talk about the uPVC which makes up the other 50% in our composite decking. Some deck boards use recycled plastic, which sounds like an environmental plus. Ours don’t, but this is because long-lasting quality requires good fundamental materials. If recycled plastic is used, you don’t necessarily know the source of the plastic, or how many times it’s been recycled. These factors affect the end product. The more often it’s been recycled, the less stable it becomes.

DesignBoard’s sub-frame is made from recycled plastic.

Using high-quality uPVC means that, again, expansion and contraction are minimalised, there’s the least amount of colour-fade and the best uniformity of product. This results in decking that maintains the looks you’ve purchased and want to keep, with no need to replace the decking boards for a long time to come. An environmental plus in itself!

If you have any further questions on what makes DesignBoard such high-quality contemporary decking, or would like samples so you can see for yourself what a natural effect the rice husks have created, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.