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How To Keep Composite Decking Cool In Summer

Composite decking continues to rise in popularity among homeowners--and for good reason. Environmentally friendly, low-maintenance, and extremely durable, composite decking beats out traditional wood installations in a wide range of areas.

However, like all outdoor hardscaping, summer presents a new set of challenges in the form of sunlight and heat. Composite decking is largely resistant to the sun-based fading experienced in other materials. However, it is not immune from absorbing heat. This can be a problem for adults and kids looking to relax on their deck with bare feet this summer.

Luckily, there are several ways you can keep your composite decking cool even in the warmest months, so you can enjoy your next backyard BBQ, sans the shoes.

Create Shade

Because the largest contributor to a hot deck during summer months is the beating sun, the most obvious way to keep your decking cool is to add shade to your space.

Umbrellas

One of the simplest and most affordable ways to add shade to an existing composite deck is to invest in a good patio umbrella. Shade umbrellas have come a long way in recent years. Many are now available in a large selection of designs and styles. 

Whether you’re looking to mount your umbrella in the center of your deck, or offset it to enjoy the entirety of your space, there’s a workable option on the market. An added benefit to umbrellas is their portability. When the season ends, or in the event that you move, your umbrella can be taken down and taken with you or stowed until next summer.

Pergolas

composite decking with outdoor furniture on top

One of the most stylish and effective ways to add shade to your composite deck is to install a pergola. If you’re planning a renovation to your outdoor space, including a pergola in the design will give you daily shade from an element that flows seamlessly into your design. A pergola is constructed from a wide range of materials, including composite that can match your deck. Talk to your designer about builds and style they feel would best suit your outdoor living space.

For those looking to shade existing decks, pergolas can be constructed on existing structures, or even purchased for lower prices. While pergolas are often available from home improvement or online stores, the lower price tag may result in a final product that doesn’t last you more than a few summers.

For enhanced shade, adding plantings, vines, or even material awnings to your pergola structure can provide more coverage to your deck space without breaking the bank.

Strategic Planting

When you talk about cooling a deck, many forget about the impact that greenery or plant life can have on lowering temperatures. Whether arranged on large screens or trellises, or arranged around the deck on low lying planters, incorporating more foliage into your outdoor space will offer relief from the hot summer months.

When landscaping your space, consider planting larger trees with substantial foliage in an arrangement that will cast shade onto your decking. Even a single well positioned tree and offer reprieve from beating sun rays.

If large-scale planting is not possible in your space, you may be surprised how effective incorporating planters on your deck can be. The flat surface of a composite deck can be especially conductive as it reflects the sun directly and allows temperatures to rise quickly. Breaking up this landscape with potted planting can help.

Whether you choose large planting boxes, or tired terracotta pots, planters for every style are available at a wide range of price points. As an added bonus, deck planting makes your space feel more welcoming, and can add a pop of much needed color and style.

Choose The Right Color

If you’ve ever ventured outside on a hot summer day in a black tshirt, then you are likely well aware of the impact color has on temperature. The same is true when it comes to composite decking. 

For those living in sunny or warm climates, choosing a color of decking that will not absorb heat in excess is incredibly important. While you may appreciate the look of dark decking, your bare feet will quickly make you regret the decision once July roles around.

Instead of selecting dark washes, opt for lighter hues or ask your designer about mixing dark and light shades. In general, the lighter the hue of your composite decking, the cooler it will remain year round.

Rugs and Furniture

outdoor furniture

For those who are very sensitive to hot decking underfoot but still want to enjoy the benefits of composite material, installing seasonal solutions through design may be the right answer. Using design elements such as outdoor rugs and outdoor furniture can help to create a cooling barrier between your feet and hot decking.

When looking for a rug for your outdoor space, it’s important to find something that is durable and can hold up to the elements. Exterior designers create fabrics with the outdoors specially in mind. Not only will a rug or furniture set allow you to easily go barefoot in summer months, but it can bring some of the comfortable appeal of the indoors to your outdoor space.

Breaking up the flat expanse of your deck with furniture functions to cool your space in much the same way as integrating planters. Chairs, tables, and even outdoor sofas create a surface that is less likely to reflect light, while making your deck more functional for hosting company and relaxing with friends and family.

It is important to keep in mind that not all outdoor furniture is created equally, and some may be equally as conductive as decking. Avoid wrought iron and metal framework that may become dangerously hot in direct summer sunlight. Opting for fabric covers in lighter shades can add both comfort and function to the space.

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