Dr Composites here again.
This time our question comes from Sarah from Boston: Can I work with composites the same way I work with wood?
Yes, Sarah, you will be able to work with composite decking the same way you work with wood. You will be able to cut and to bend the boards.
The reason that you are able to work with it like wood as far cutting is because composite decking is made up usually from 40-60% wood flour essentially making the product half wood.
The density of the plastic used in many composites is Polyethylene, which has a density of 930 kg/m^3 whereas wood has a wide range of densities from 400-1200 kg/m^3. This means that as far as cutting is concerned it would be like cutting a harder than average piece of wood. In regards to bending the product it is a little different than bending wood.
First you would need to heat the product so that it becomes very pliable then you must have some braces set in place into the shape of how you want it to look like. Let the board rest in that shape until it has cooled and hardened again and you will have the board in the shape that you like.
The problem is getting the board hot enough to work with it. There are different methods, I know, Trex has a machine that is designed specifically to heat composite decking boards, it will work with anyone's composite decking boards.
You could also get a really hot towel or wrap and bend parts of the board.
This is a great question because a lot of people that are starting to move into composites this is one of the first questions that they ask.
Until next week. This is Dr. Composites signing off.