|Property Serv LLC
I had the opportunity to go out and look at a deck that was damaged by fire today, for the purposes of fixing it. This deck was constructed of a treated wood frame and a composite shell. What is "composite" anyway? It is a combination of recycled wood, dust or fibers, and a plastic or some kind, like PVC. When I thought of "composite", I knew it was a recycled product and normally maintenance free, that's part of the draw. I thought that this product was somewhat superior to wood, it ought to be for the price. After looking at the deck today, I'm not so sure. The fire started on an outside corner and spread to the entire underside of the deck, driven by wind. All of the joists were burnt and the flooring charred. Though the top of the decking wasn't affected, I'm not sure of the structural integrity of it after being burned on the bottom and subjected to intense heat. This got me wondering what the fire rating of composite decking was. After some research most of the decking available locally has a fire rating of "C". That is the same as wood, but unlike wood this has a plastic in it. A plastic fire seems to be a little harder to put out and not to mention the smoke and toxic fumes released when burned. The house the deck is attached to definitely has smoke damage from the burning composite. My hope is that others would not falsely assume that because this product is a "composite" that it is somehow more fire resistant than regular wood. The ease of use and low maintenance make this a good product, but the same care should be taken as with traditional materials and the cost of replacement taken into consideration.
Craig Jones, owner of Property Serv LLC. My goal is to better educate the homeowner and to make Richmond a better place to live.