ARTICLE Anya Kussler IMAGES BiForm and The Tile Depot
Composite decking, an alternative to wooden decking, has been used in countries like the US and Canada for around 30 years. In New Zealand it is still very much in its infancy, having made its first appearance here around a decade ago. Consisting of a combination of recycled wood fibres and recycled plastic (usually at a 50:50 ratio), composite decking is super-robust and resistant to decay, giving it a much longer lifespan than wooden decks.
BiForm solid composite decking, available as boards and tiles, is a premium, eco-friendly composite flooring product that’s also super low-maintenance. Being ‘solid’, it won’t crack, warp or move like many of the hollow products on the market – and, unlike timber decking, it comes in a range of prefabricated natural timber colours, so there’s no need to stain or paint it. Better still: it’s easy to clean, and the only TLC it needs is a few soap washes per year.
One of BiForm’s main points of difference is that their products were specifically developed to withstand the high UV conditions in New Zealand and Australia. BiForm Managing Director Tau Aupa’au explains: “The plastic content is the key here – our products contain only 30 per cent recycled HDPE plastic, compared with the standard 50 per cent.”
And the proof that their formula works is in the ‘decking’. Following extensive testing by the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ), BiForm is currently the only BRANZ-appraised composite decking product – and one that carries a 25-year transferable warranty to give consumers the security that it will last the distance.
What’s special, too, is that BiForm was created to help save the rainforest, and with human safety and the health in mind. “Our products are made from 60 per cent waste timber fibre – off cuts that have been ground to powder – so no trees have to be cut down,” Tau says.
What’s more, it’s slip-resistant (making it ideal for entrance ways), plus it contains mould inhibitors and is free from formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals found in treated timber. “And you don’t have to worry about nails popping up and potentially hurting someone,” Tau adds. “That’s because a hidden clip fixing system holds the boards together, and it’s also easier and quicker to install than timber.”
BiForm solid composite decking boards come in two sizes and six versatile natural timber colours, ranging from a light driftwood colour to warmer hues like cedar, while the tiles are available in three shades. Suitable for any outdoor area, the boards can be installed straight onto a timber structure or butanol waterproof membrane.
The tiles, in particular, are an ideal choice for apartment, especially ones with multiple balconies and a lack of proper deck space. They consist of a plastic underside base made with inbuilt connecting tabs that are quick and easy to install via a ‘quick-click’ system.
Porcelain stoneware pavers
An elegant alternative to traditional concrete or expensive high-maintenance stone pavers – 20mm porcelain stoneware pavers are slowly but surely coming of age since they emerged around six years ago.
Slip-resistant and extra-durable, they’re east to install and maintain, and they’re also extremely versatile. You can use them in all exterior residential applications, be it to frame your swimming pool, or make your terrace or driveway look the part. “The 20mm profile is also great for creating a seamless indoor-outdoor flow,” adds Mike Sydall, CEO of leading NZ tile supplier, The Tile Depot.
The tiles can be installed by dry-laying them onto gravel or sand as pavers onto grass or onto an elevated deck jack system. “These options make it easy to change the design and re-install the tiles,” Mike explains. “And dry-laying them prevents efflorescence, mildew and mould from forming, so they’re easy to maintain.” In order to create a more permanent floor there’s also a fourth option: to install the tiles using traditional adhesives.
The tiles are made from ultra-fine clay and are inherently non-porous due to their high density, which makes them highly resistant to stains, water and wear and tear. Their 20mm thickness also means they can handle high pressure and makes them ideal for any exterior applications and heavy pedestrian traffic. They don’t require sealing either, and can easily be cleaned with a broom and a hose.
20mm porcelain tiles are dearer than concrete pavers, but far more affordable than, for example, natural stone products. “Thanks to digital inkjet technology, there are now more stone replicas on the market that have the low-maintenance benefits of porcelain,” Mike explains. “As long as you can prepare a flat surface on your back lawn, you can transform your yard one porcelain paver at a time.”