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Why Increased Regulation Designed to Protect our Marine Environments is Actually Fuelling Greater Choice in Marina and Pontoon Decking

By Dura Composites November 8, 2018

With 2018 almost behind us, the experienced Dura Composites Marine team is proud to be exhibiting at METSTRADE 2018 – the world’s biggest, and most visited, B2B leisure marine equipment show. This global exhibition focuses on innovation and market developments, and offers the perfect opportunity for Dura to showcase our brand new 2019 Ultra Deck Resist and Eco pontoon decking ranges, as well as our latest advances in fenders and safety ladders.  With environmental awareness of the pressures on the world’s oceans at an all time high, here’s why increased regulation is actually fuelling greater choice in marina and pontoon decking, and why composites are the sensible and sustainable long term option.

With ambitious new waterfront developments in the pipeline in places such as Dubai, Latin America and the Caribbean, the industry as we know it is transforming at an unprecedented pace.  Whilst those who work in the maritime sector will no doubt welcome any chance to protect our marine environments from further damage, when it comes to encouraging new build and refurbishment marinas, docks, and other waterside projects, how can marine businesses ensure that they find the balance between maximum profitability and going green?

Stuart Burns, Managing Director at Dura Composites – a leading supplier of composite marina and pontoon decking believes that now is the right time for developers to seize the opportunity to find smarter ways to reduce their costs whilst promoting sustainability.

The company has more than 22 years’ experience in the marine industry and has seen its business operations continue to flourish despite the increased challenges of the sector – winning a prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2017.  The award has proved to be a springboard for further success both at home and overseas – with Dura Composites’ GRP (glass reinforced plastic) and composite timber marina and pontoon decking products playing a pivotal role in a range of high profile projects in the Middle East, UK and Europe.

“With new marina, harbour and waterfront developments often restricted due to geographical limitations and environmental and planning rules, the demand from our customers for flexible decking products has never been greater” says Stuart Burns. “The tropical hardwoods and preservative treated timbers which were widely in use 20 years ago are no longer seen as the most viable option due to their expense and high maintenance requirements. These days, we’re seeing marina construction companies and developers opt for more sustainable and innovative solutions which tick a wider range of boxes and can adapt to the needs of changing climates.”

The past few years have seen composite products revolutionise the marine industry as the advantages of GRP and composite timber (also sometimes known as WPC) materials have become clear to both end clients and contractors.

Dura’s market-leading Dura Grating and Ultra Deck are suitable for new build projects, (or as a replacement for degraded timber decking where safe anti-slip qualities are required), thanks to their innate ability to withstand the harsh side effects of marine conditions, and the option of co-extruded composite decking adds yet more choice to the marketplace. But with such an array of materials on offer, what are the key considerations that marine businesses should bear in mind when deciding which decking to use?

Location, Location, Location

“The impact of the prevailing climate should not be underestimated” says Burns. “When installed in a rainy climate, hardwood decks are subject to water absorption and can become slippery and prone to mould and mildew, so may not be the wisest choice in areas of heavy foot traffic or where access for regular maintenance will be a problem. In the Middle East, summer temperatures can reach a blistering 50°C – so it’s critical to choose a product such as a composite timber decking with both excellent UV stability and the ability to withstand the high levels of salinity found in the Arabian Gulf. If you need a heavy duty anti-slip product which can span greater distances, then GRP in standard mesh, mini mesh or micro mesh finishes may be a better option, and if fire resistance and durability are critical, then a PVC deck might be your best bet”.

 Environmental Credentials

“Illegal logging of the Ipe tree (which is often used for traditional hardwood decking) and scandals surrounding yachts for the luxury market built with illegitimate teak from Myanmar have made headlines this year, and have understandably made many deck builders wary of using tropical hardwoods for their projects. Complete transparency needn’t be a problem however if you opt for a composite. Composite decking is a hybrid product that’s made from a mixture of hardwood waste and recycled plastic. Many of the leading brands such as Dura’s Ultra Deck are made from materials that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill.  The result is a weather and stain-resistant deck board that won’t splinter, warp, rot, or split, (unlike traditional wood which can succumb to all these problems). At Dura Composites, we were the world’s first composite timber supplier to achieve Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) Chain of Custody certification in 2011, as part of our commitment to lead the industry in sustainable practice – so our composite decking boards are just as good for your project as they are for the future of the environment.” 

Lifecycle Cost

“It’s not just the initial outlay costs that you should consider when deciding on your decking material. It’s important to consider the whole lifecycle of the material and all its associated costs, including installation, how long it will last and what kind of maintenance (if any) it will require to keep it functioning and looking its best. GRP decking products offer considerably lower life cycle costs due to their low maintenance, corrosion-resistant and impact-resistant characteristics compared with traditional materials, and market leading products such as Dura Grating come with a reassuring 25 year warranty.

Innovation doesn’t have to cost the earth

“If it’s the wood look you really want, then composite decking has come a long way in the past few years, with today’s composites reflecting the beauty of natural and exotic hardwoods. When keeping labour costs down is a key priority, there are some innovative products out there that can help. Ultra Deck type 295 from Dura Composites (which has recently been installed in Charcoal colour at the Ocean Village development) is a double width board with the appearance of single boards which can halve installation times and enhances long term performance. It is available with matching composite timber fenders which have a rebated edge and can be used with or without LED lights and duct covers.  And also brand new for 2018 is Ultra Deck Resist  - a co-extruded composite deck board with a 360 degree outer armour. This is used to protect the core of the deck from the elements allowing it be virtually colour fade free and  fire resistant to BS EN 13501 Class B, making it a game changer in the marine market.

At-a-Glance: Making the smart choice for your project

If you’d like to talk to Dura Composites about an upcoming decking project, we’d be happy to help. Our client base includes ports, harbours, marinas, government agencies, ferry operators, fish farms, the RNLI and naval architects, and our value-added services include Technical Manuals, CAD Design support and Live Load Test Data for our products. For more information visit www.duracomposites.com/marine or call us on +44 (0)1255 446 821.