Composite Decking Problems & Recalls

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know that I am not a fan of composite decking. After all, there’s a good reason why this blog is called the “Ipe Decking Blog”! 🙂

However, despite my own personal reasons, if you conduct your own research into composite decking comparisons and composite decking reviews, you will run across countless complaints and maintenance issues.

These complaints are coming from hard-working people like you who have invested their hard-earned time and, above all else, money, building what they thought would be a beautiful addition to their home. If you put yourself in their shoes wouldn’t you want to make sure that no one else goes through what they just went through?

If you want to build a deck, or replace your composite deck with decking that will last, then choose a hardwood such as ipe decking. If you look through the other posts on this blog, you will see that ipe decks are vastly superior to composite decks and can even be cheaper to build too!

Last, but certainly not least, if you’re convinced that using ipe hardwood decking is the right way to go, call us at We’d be honored to help you build the deck of your dreams and avoid the nightmare of dealing with fixing your composite deck.

Update: Composite decking has changed a lot over the years, and manufacturers are constantly improving the product. Many of the problems that plagued synthetic decking in the past have been solved. But not all companies and products are equal; always do your research, and only buy composite decking from reputable brands!

14 thoughts on “Composite Decking Problems & Recalls”

  1. Hello. I have (MAJOR BRAND) decking I purchased over 1yr ago. About 6 months after it was installed it started to get these spots that I can only describe as “black blotches.” I’ve been working w/ (MAJOR BRAND) to clean/rectify/replace the deck and all they will tell me is it is mold. They’ve given me cleaners to try and nothing works. I finally sent a sample to be tested at Michigan State University and said it was absolutely NOT any form of mold. If anyone else is having similar problems or have any advice for me, please let me know!!

  2. Dear Sarah,

    I have the same problem with my composite decking started staining (dark patches on 90% of my deck with a few months. I really have no advice but I have contacted (MAJOR BRAND) and was sent a form to be be filled out and a throw away camera to take pictures. I will fill out the forms and hope for the best.

    Thanks Grace

  3. Same problem with my decking, stains all over deck. Contacted GAF and will fill out forms sent to me and see what happens.

  4. Report on ‘Gossen Passport Decking’ supplied by Composite Materials Australia Pty Ltd.
    In July 2011 I had 44m2 of Gossens PVC Spanish Walnut decking installed around my pool area. I was told at the time that this product was ideal for around my pool, as it would require no further maintenance once installed and the supplier had informed my installer that the product had passed all slip tests for wet areas.
    As soon as the weather started to warm up and we used our pool it was obvious that this product was certainly no good for wet areas as it became very slippery when wet. I and many others slipped over. You can tell people to be careful as the decking is slippery and they will. The problem is that kids will be kids and are constantly running and jumping in the pool which leads to them slipping over. To avoid this we ended up putting rubber matting around the pool area. We thought we could live with this problem even though it would always be a concern.
    As the weather warmed up we started to notice the decking was starting to warp. By the end of the first summer the decking was ridiculously warped. We contacted the installer who informed us he’d had the same complaints from other jobs where he’d installed ‘Gossens PVC Decking’.
    Composite Materials Australia who supplied the product came and looked at the installation and agreed to replace all the warped decking. They claimed that the decking had warped because the batons supporting it had been installed 440mm apart instead of 400mm apart. I enquired about the decking being so slippery when wet and was told that it had passed all Australian Safety Standards. I then decided to get some legal advice and the letter below is from my lawyer.
    Our client is concerned that when the PVC decking becomes wet, it becomes dangerously slippery. Furthermore, our client advises that on a number of occasions people have slipped on the decking and our client feels that the PVC decking poses a constant and real safety risk.
    We have been provided with a copy of the Slip Resistance Classification Test (Report No. R2722) dated 27 September 2011 which was obtained from the supplier, Composite Materials Australia. We enclose a copy of that report for your information and records. As you will note the report shows that the PVC decking has achieved a “Y” slip resistance classification.
    We have also obtained a copy of the Australian/New Zealand Standard Slip Resistance Classification for new pedestrian surface materials (“Australian Standard”). Paragraph 4.8 of the Australian Standards defines a “wet area” as an area in which floor coverings are generally wet and walked on by people in bare feet (such as swimming pool surrounds). Handbook 197:1999 – An Introductory Guide to the slip resistance of pedestrian surface materials, provides guidelines for the selection of slip resistant pedestrian surfaces classified in accordance with the Australian Standard.
    Table 3 from the Handbook provides that the minimum classification for swimming pool surrounds is “W”.

    Given that the Slip Resistance Classification Report provided by Composite Materials Australia shows that the PVC decking only has a Y classification, we consider that the PVC decking is not compliant with the Australian Standards for wet areas.
    In addition to our client’s concerns regarding the slipperiness of the PVC decking, we are instructed that the entire deck needs replacing as it has completely buckled from exposure to the sun. We understand that Composite Materials Australia have already agreed to replace the decking for our client.
    So my final advice to anyone looking at installing this product is to be sure to have it installed with the correct baton spacing and also out of direct sun light and certainly not in a wet area. I am now in the process of replacing ‘Gossen Passport Decking’ with another product.

  5. We built a new house putting a MAJOR COMPOSITE DECKING BRAND deck on the back. We have worked and worked trying to get rid of all the moldy spots and it looks like it’s crumbling and peeling. We were told that it would last forever, and be maintenance free.We have been so disappointed and don’t know what to do about it.

  6. lol Sarah, I would take those test results you received and send a copy to the decking company and DEMAND a reason??? and ask about the supposed “Warranty” otherwise known as false advertising.. I’m a carpenter and I run into these empty promises here and there. You think is sucks for you? I have to go back and replace the garbage that I told them not to buy… lol Here’s a hint NOTHING is maintenance free…… LOL The big question is do the producers stand behind their claims… lol I’ll tell you know… IT”S ALMOST ALL A SALES SCAM!!!! read the fine print…… It’s like everything else these days. Pay more …..Get less…. It’s a corporation MAKING MONEY with sleezy liars,,I mean lawyers writing the script.. It’s a money back guarantee LOL yeah pro rated….. with this or that percentage and they don’t cover labor either… LOL LOL if you’re a homeowner who paid someone thousands of dollars to install a new deck and the product itself is a piece of sh&t, now you are out the entire labor PLUS what it cost to remove the old crap decking…. These guys are slick…. Just remember commercials and ads are there to hype and sell a product… Wood has been around before Jesus and it’s still here after him…

  7. P.S. Kay Bryant,,, If this is a recent problem…. I would call the company that made the product and tell them… If they tell you it’s mold….. and say to clean it… do what they say and if it doesn’t work, tell them… also tell them about the condition of it and how crappy it looks… Then request they have a representative come and look at it…. If they won’t send a rep, I’d actually cut out a piece of the deck that won’t hurt too bad and SEND IT TO THEM CERTIFIED MAIL with a receipt of when you bought it or had someone install it and ask to be compensated. If they still don’t respond I would take them to court and once they get the legal notice, If they know they are wrong, they will usually cover the product and labor to fix their problem… 🙂

  8. I installed Gossen`s Passport Decking two years ago at my house
    After searching the internet for a product that would be durable and look great for many years, I thought I had found the answer in Passport Decking……..Mistake!
    The boards have warped badly in the sun, (I strictly followed the installation instruction)
    The boards scratch far easier than I was told they would and have faded.
    Passport Decking gets so unbelievably hot in the summer, there is no way you can walk on it without shoes!
    The boards are extremely slippery when wet. Many people have fallen victim to this major flaw. I myself have a 4″ scar for life and a hospital visit as a result of this.
    In my opinion Passport Decking is not fit for use in any area that is exposed to sunlight, or any direct weather.
    When I can afford to I will rip up this expensive mistake and replace with Ipe or Teak.

  9. My husband and I sought out and obtained quotations for many different composite decking products by many different manufactures last year.
    We chose the product being Passport Decking by Gossen and the contractor to install the decking, and we felt exited about out latest addition.
    Within 3 weeks we experienced Passport Decking boards to expand and contract massively and within one day to expand 18mm in one 20ft board length!!
    The neat miters our contractor had installed quickly began to look very poor and never expanded back to their original size.
    We have found the decking boards to be very slippy and extremely hot, to the point of our feet literally being burnt.
    We have also experienced Passport Decking to almost relax and somewhat melt to the point of obvious distortion between the timbers below.
    I would certainly advise against using Passport Decking as it has been a constant problem to us.
    I think next time we would use IPE or similar, okay a little maintenance but at least it will last.
    A lot of money spent (3 times that of IPE) and looks terrible.
    Our contractor has been back several times to try and “make good” but I really feel the Passport Decking is fraught with issues and problems regarding the points advertised by its maufacurer Gossen.
    Emma and Paul Brown

  10. We purchased Gossen Decking Spanish Walnut 2009. In 2010 we had to have boards replaced for warping. Now in 2015 we had several boards, warp, split and shrink. Have been trying to get help from GOSSEN since September 2015. Have NOT ONCE received a call from the company, have submitted
    40 pages of documentation. All correspondence and calls are initiated from our side. Was turned over
    to Bright Claim Warranty in December 2015. Guess what—-they don’t respond either!!!!!!


    In 2015 I installed Spanish Walnut Decking in Northern Califorinia and it warped within the first few months. I’ve gone back and forth with Gossen at least 10 time over the last 6 months. No resolution what so ever. They will not stand behind their products. As a gereral contrctor, I’ve use almost every composite decking over the years and will NEVER use Gossen again.

  12. Gossen Decking, is there a class action suit against their PVC Tongue and Groove? Since the time of installation (Dec 2012) I have had nothing but problems with the Gossen Product. Boards warp, gaps between ends expand, and anything scratches it. The contractor is long gone (as in out of business), but when the supplier (Smith Millwork of Lexington, NC) sent a rep to look at the warping he blamed in on the reflection of the sun from the windows. Hands washed and case closed! Later came to find out that the contractor should have place the PVC on 12 inch center joists – not 16 inch. Joist spacing is one factor in warping, but a major factor is the product it’s self. Help from Gossen – lot’s of luck with that. They were not responsive after the Field Rep declared the problems with warping solved. I would never buy a Gossen product again. So, is there an active Class Action Suit agains Gossen that other owners can join?

  13. Gossen is useless around a pool in australia. You can not walk on it as it gets too hot, warps, looses colour and is slippery. Not sure how it got into the country and was allowed to be sold. I will have to replace it.

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