Does Composite Decking Scratch?

January 2024
Anton White

In the realm of outdoor decking, one question frequently surfaces: does composite decking scratch? The short answer is that while composite decking is celebrated for its durability and ease of maintenance, it's not entirely impervious to scratches.

But, how could your composite decking get scratched? And how can you fix it? Luckily, that's exactly why we're here.

This article delves into the nuances of composite decking's scratch resistance, exploring the factors that influence its susceptibility to damage and offering practical advice on maintenance and repair.

As we unpack the realities of composite decking, you'll discover how to best protect and care for your outdoor space, ensuring it remains a stunning feature of your home for years to come.

What this article covers:

Does Composite Decking Scratch?

From our experience, the answer is yes, but it's not as straightforward as you might think.

Composite decking, while largely much more scratch-resistant than other decking materials such as wood, is not completely immune to scratches. However, the extent to which it scratches and the visibility of these scratches can vary significantly based on several factors.

How Does Composite Decking Get Scratched?

Poor Maintenance

The longevity and appearance of composite decking are heavily reliant on regular upkeep. When maintenance is overlooked, the decking becomes more susceptible to scratches and other forms of damage.

The use of harsh cleaning chemicals or abrasive tools can have a particularly negative impact. These substances and tools can erode the protective layer of the decking, leaving it more vulnerable to scratches.

It's crucial to use gentle cleaning methods and appropriate tools to maintain the integrity of the decking's surface.

Heavy Furniture

Placing and moving heavy furniture can have a huge impact on scratching your composite decking. When heavy items are dragged across the surface, they can leave deep grooves and unsightly marks.

This is especially true for furniture with sharp edges or metal components. The best practice is to lift and carry furniture when moving it or use furniture pads to distribute the weight evenly and reduce the risk of scratches.

Pets And Children

Pets, particularly dogs with long nails, can inadvertently scratch the decking surface as they move or play. Similarly, children playing with hard or sharp toys can cause accidental scratches.

It's important to keep pet nails trimmed and to encourage children to play with softer, less damaging toys on the decking. Additionally, setting up specific play areas with protective mats can help minimize the risk of damage.

Footwear And High Traffic

Certain types of footwear, like high heels or shoes with metal cleats, can exert excessive pressure on composite decking, leading to scratches. High-traffic areas, such as the space near doors or around outdoor seating, are more prone to wear and tear.

Encouraging guests to wear softer-soled shoes and rotating furniture layout can help distribute foot traffic and reduce localized damage.

Environmental Factors

Environmental elements like tree branches, debris, or gravel can also scratch composite decking. During windy conditions, these elements can be dragged across the decking surface, leaving scratches behind.

Regular sweeping and trimming of overhanging branches can significantly reduce the risk of such damage. Additionally, installing side screens or using outdoor rugs in areas prone to falling debris can provide an extra layer of protection.

how to remove scratches from composite decking

Incorrect Installation

Improper installation of composite decking can increase its vulnerability to scratches. If the boards are not securely fastened or if there's inadequate space between them, they can rub against each other or move under pressure, leading to scratches.

Ensuring that the decking is installed according to the manufacturer's guidelines or by a professional is crucial for maintaining its aesthetic appeal and structural integrity. This includes accounting for composite decking expansion.

Factors That Affect How Scratch-Proof Your Composite Decking Is

Material Quality

The composition and quality of the materials used in composite decking are paramount in determining its scratch resistance.

High-quality composite decking boards typically combine wood fibres and recycled plastics with advanced binding agents, creating a robust and durable surface. These premium materials are engineered to withstand the rigours of outdoor use, offering enhanced resistance to scratches compared to lower-quality alternatives.

Investing in top-tier composite decking means opting for a product that can better handle the wear and tear of everyday use. Quality materials will usually also result in heat resistant composite decking and help you avoid composite decking warping.


The surface texture of composite decking plays a significant role in its susceptibility to visible scratches. Textures that mimic the natural grain of wood not only add aesthetic value but also help in disguising minor scratches and scuffs.

composite decking scratches

Smooth, glossy finishes might show scratches more prominently, whereas matte and grainy textures tend to hide them better. The choice of texture should align with the expected usage and foot traffic to ensure both longevity and continued visual appeal.

If you keep finding your composite decking slippery, then texture can also have an impact on this.

Cover Technology

The advancements in cover technology have greatly enhanced the scratch resistance of composite decking. The incorporation of durable outer shells in the manufacturing process provides an additional layer of protection against scratches.

This technology acts as a barrier, shielding the core composite material from direct exposure to elements and physical abrasions. Capped composite decking, where the board is completely encased in this protective layer, offers the highest level of scratch resistance.

Good cover technology also helps to protect against composite decking fading.

Board Density

The density of the composite decking boards is a critical factor in determining their resistance to scratches. Higher-density boards are generally more durable and resistant to physical damage, including scratches.

These boards are tightly packed with materials, leaving less space for scratches to penetrate deeply into the surface. When selecting composite decking, considering the density of the boards can provide insight into their overall durability and scratch resistance.

Colour And Pigmentation

The colour and pigmentation of the decking material can also influence its scratch resistance or at least the visibility of scratches.

does composite decking scratch easily

Darker colours and certain pigments can make scratches more noticeable, whereas lighter tones and specific colour blends can help mask minor abrasions. The choice of colour should consider both aesthetic preferences and practical aspects related to scratch visibility.

How to Tell How Scratch-Proof Your Composite Decking Is

Janka Hardness Test

The Janka Hardness Test is a widely recognized method for assessing the durability of wood and wood-composite materials. In this test, a steel ball is pressed into the decking material to determine how well it can withstand pressure without denting.

The force required to embed the ball to half its diameter provides a numerical hardness rating. A higher rating on the Janka scale indicates a higher resistance to dents and scratches.

his test is particularly useful when comparing different types of composite decking materials, giving you a quantifiable measure of how likely the material is to resist scratching under pressure.

Taber Abrasion Test

The Taber Abrasion Test is another critical assessment for determining the durability of composite decking. In this test, the material is subjected to wear from rotating discs under a specific load.

The amount of material worn away after a set number of cycles is measured. This test is crucial for understanding how well the decking can withstand continuous wear and tear, which is indicative of its ability to resist scratches over time.

A lower wear value signifies better abrasion resistance, suggesting that the decking will maintain its appearance and integrity even under frequent use.

Performance Over Time

Observing the performance of your decking over time is perhaps the most practical method of assessing its scratch resistance.

how to prevent scratches on composite decking

This involves monitoring how the decking responds to everyday activities, such as moving furniture, foot traffic, and exposure to pets and children. Look for signs of wear in high-traffic areas, note how well the surface holds up against accidental spills or impacts, and observe any changes in texture or colour.

Real-world performance can provide invaluable insights into the material's long-term durability and its ability to maintain a pristine appearance despite the challenges of daily use.

Remember, even the most scratch-resistant materials may show signs of wear over time, so regular inspection and maintenance are key to preserving the decking's aesthetic and functional qualities.

How to Prevent Scratches on Composite Decking

Regular Cleaning And Maintenance

Maintaining a regular cleaning schedule is essential for preventing scratches on your composite decking. Dirt, debris, and small stones can act like sandpaper underfoot, gradually wearing down and scratching the surface.

Sweep the deck regularly with a soft-bristle broom to remove these abrasive particles. For more thorough cleaning, use mild soap and water with a soft brush, ensuring you rinse the surface well to avoid leaving any soapy residue.

Protective Mats

Place protective mats under outdoor furniture, especially chairs and tables, to prevent scratches.

These mats act as a barrier between the furniture legs and the decking, distributing the weight more evenly and reducing the risk of scratches, particularly when the furniture is moved.

Choose mats that are designed for outdoor use to ensure they can withstand the elements without causing damage to the decking.

Mindful Furniture Movement

When rearranging furniture on your deck, always lift and carry the pieces instead of dragging them. Dragging furniture, even lightweight items, can leave behind scratches and scuffs.

If furniture is too heavy to lift, consider using furniture sliders that are specifically designed for outdoor use. These sliders can help you move heavy items across your deck without causing damage.

Trim Pet Nails

Pets, especially dogs, can inadvertently scratch your decking with their nails. Keeping your pet's nails trimmed is a simple yet effective way to reduce the risk of scratches. Regular nail trims will help keep your decking looking pristine and are also beneficial for your pet's health and comfort.

Avoid Hard Or Sharp Objects

Be cautious about what you place or use on your composite decking. Avoid walking on the deck with high heels or shoes with metal cleats, as they can cause deep scratches.

Similarly, avoid using sharp tools or objects directly on the deck surface. If you need to move heavy objects, such as planters or grills, place them on a wheeled platform to avoid dragging them across the deck.

How to Remove Scratches From Composite Decking

Traditional Composite Decking

Step 1: Clean The Affected Area

This applies to our classic composite decking, such as this black grooved composite decking. Before attempting any repair, it's crucial to clean the scratched area. Remove any dirt or debris using a soft brush and mild soap.

Rinse with water and allow the area to dry completely. This step ensures that you're working with a clean surface, which is essential for effective scratch removal.

Step 2: Light Sanding

For light scratches, use fine-grit sandpaper (around 60-100 grit). Gently sand the affected area in the direction of the grain. This helps to blend the scratch into the rest of the decking.

dog scratches on composite decking

Apply minimal pressure to avoid deepening the scratch or damaging the surrounding area.

Step 3: Assess And Repeat if Necessary

After sanding, wipe away any dust and assess the scratch. If it's still visible, repeat the sanding process, being careful not to overdo it. The goal is to make the scratch less noticeable, not to completely remove the layer of the decking.

Step 4: Finish With A Sealant (Optional)

Once satisfied, you can apply a composite deck sealant to the sanded area. This step is optional but can help protect the sanded area from future wear and tear.

Capped Composite Decking

Step 1: Clean The Area

This process applies to our Luxxe composite decking, such as this light grey woodgrain composite decking. As with traditional composite decking, start by cleaning the scratched area thoroughly. Use a soft brush and mild soap, rinse with water, and let it dry. This step is crucial for a successful repair.

Step 2: Heat Gun Treatment

For deeper scratches, a heat gun can be used. Set the heat gun to a moderate temperature (around 450°C) and hold it approximately 3 inches away from the scratch.

Move the heat gun slowly back and forth over the scratch. This process gently heats the material, making it more pliable and allowing the scratch to blend into the surrounding area.

Step 3: Monitor The Heat Application

Be vigilant during this process. Applying too much heat can damage the decking. If you notice any discolouration or warping, immediately stop and allow the area to cool down.

Step 4: Light Sanding (If Necessary)

If the scratch is still somewhat visible after the heat treatment, you can lightly sand the area. Use fine-grit sandpaper and gently work over the scratch, always moving in the direction of the grain.

Step 5: Apply A Composite Deck Sealant (Optional)

To finish, consider applying a composite deck sealant to the treated area. This can help protect the decking and maintain its appearance. 


While composite decking is usually scratch-resistant, it's not entirely immune without maintenance or care.

By understanding the factors that affect its scratch resistance and following our tips for prevention and repair, you can enjoy beautiful and long-lasting decking for years to come.

And if you're looking for scratch-resistant composite decking that will look as good as new for years to come, Ovaeda has you covered.

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