What is WPC? – Care, installation, advantages and disadvantages

If you are looking for a material that is natural and feels good, wood is the answer. If you are looking for a material that is durable and easy to care for, you’ll choose PVC. But if you want to create a cosy outdoor setting, perhaps you’d like to combine the two.

This is exactly what WPC was made for. The Wood Plastic Composite is a material used for terrace planks, fences, paths and pool sides that makes outdoor areas especially homely and is also very durable. This is due to the mixture of wood and PVC. It looks almost the same as solid wood. Because it is easy to work with and does not splinter, more and more families are choosing this material for their outdoor settings. Discover more about the properties, the advantages and disadvantages, the durability, care and the installation of WPC planks below.

Properties of WPC – a combination of wood and PVC

WPC combines the properties of wood and PVC in an environmentally friendly material that makes the use of tropical timbers on terraces and balconies superfluous. WPC is not only weather-resistant, comfortable, naturally warm and durable – it is also very versatile.

The material has all the properties that terrace installers love about tropical hardwood and can therefore completely replace it. This conserves valuable resources and protects the rainforests. The wood in WPC is domestic softwood grown under sustainable forest management conditions. The PVC is also environmentally friendly: it comes from recycled PVC windows.

With the special properties of WPC, you have a material that does not split or splinter, is very durable, is easy to install and never has to be painted.

The thermal expansion coefficient of WPC is 0.3 to 0.5%, which is well below that of wood (up to 1.5%) and only slightly above the value for PVC (approx. 0.2%).

Properties of WPC – a combination of wood and PVC

Advantages and disadvantages of WPC

Advantages of WPC:

Disadvantages of WPC:
  • Less break-proof than wooden planks
  • Could swell or shrink
  • Can become hot when exposed to direct sunlight

WPC life cycle and durability

WPC is very durable. It also looks good: the UV resistance of WPC is higher than that of wood. While wood bleaches out after just a few summers, WPC only becomes slightly lighter in the first 12 weeks. After that, it keeps its colour. The colour difference is slight and can be taken into account when choosing a colour.

The material’s high durability is due to its resistance to weathering. WPC is fire and water resistant. Depending on its composition, WPC is resistant to flying sparks and radiating heat. Consequently, the planks from some manufacturers are suitable as hard roofing and safe flooring for roof terraces. WPC is also resistant to water. The material can withstand downpours, weeks of high humidity and even red wine spills.

WPC tiles or terrace planks are more durable than planks or tiles made from wood. Because of their resistance, solid WPC planks have a life of up to 30 years.

Apart from the durability of WPC, another thing to remember is the level of care it requires. WPC is very easy to clean. However, if you want to use it for a long time, you should invest some time in its maintenance.
WPC life cycle and durability

WPC care – cleaning WPC planks properly

The care of WPC begins directly after installation. No matter whether you have terrace planks, tiles or similar – initial maintenance is crucial when it comes to durability.
  1. Prepare a mild solution of water and household detergent.
  2. Use a soft brush to remove dust and dirt.
  3. Wash the WPC with a high-pressure water blaster.
  4. Do not place any heavy objects on the material for a day.
  5. Do not drag furniture over the WPC for the first few days.

The more thorough the initial cleaning, the less likely it is that scum will form after the first rain.

After this, care of WPC mainly involves removing water spots. In this respect, WPC is no different to other materials used outdoors. The spots are created by rain that washes off dust unevenly and rinses out lignin from the wood part of the WPC. Clean the material as described above. How often this is necessary will depend on local weather conditions. If you see a lot of scum, it’s time to clean the WPC. If the scum is very persistent, use wood floor cleaner or pH-neutral intensive cleaner.

You can find detailed information about WPC care here.

WPC care – cleaning WPC planks properly

WPC installation – laying WPC properly

With regard to terrace planks, WPC installation is very similar to laying wooden planks. A WPC terrace also needs an even, stable substructure. It must be resistant to external influences. It must be able to withstand rot, insects, frost, wind, water and slight vibration. Reliable drainage is also important to prevent waterlogging. Aluminium has proved to be a good material for the substructure. When the substructure is ready, it’s time to start laying the WPC.

WPC terrace planks are installed in a similar way to wooden planks. But there are a few points to consider

  • Be careful when drilling holes for screws.
  • If you want to use adhesives, pay attention to weather, frost and UV resistance.
  • Leave a longitudinal gap between two planks.
  • Leave a gap to vertical building components.

You can find instructions on installing WPC in our guide “How to install WPC terrace planks".

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