The drive to innovate in the architecture and construction industries has always been high. New products and systems are constantly being invented, existing ones are refined, and entirely new materials are fabricated and become popular for their particular properties and high suitability within specific applications.
Timber has been used in construction for millennia - it’s probably the oldest building material in existence, and one that is truly renewable (as long as forests are managed sustainably). But more recently we have seen the emergence of a number of new timber composite products - designed to provide the biophilic, luxury feel of real timber but with the superior performance and durability of more modern materials.
One of these new composite products is Innowood’s Premium FIBA DEK. Fiba Dek is a co-extruded wood/plastic composite, reinforced with dual sheets of fibreglass during production in order to create a strong, stable and durable decking material.
FIBA-DEK is a wood-thermoplastic composite, endowing it with the desirable qualities of both substances. The thermoplastic provides incredibly high impact and mechanical strength, excellent chemical resistance (thermoplastics have no known solvents at room temperature), and high dimensional stability across a range of temperatures. The wood is processed in fibre form, which gives the end product a genuine timber look while also removing splinter risk. The added benefit of the dual fibreglass layer - a technological innovation unique to FIBA DEK - provides added rigidity and toughness to the decking. And finally, with many modern thermoplastics and fibreglasses consisting of part (if not all) recycled material, and wood fibres able to be obtained from wastage and offcuts, wood composites like FIBA DEK can be highly sustainable.
But FIBA DEK’s innovative advancements are not restricted only to the material composition of the product. The product utilises a smart-clip fixing system. The system means that the planks do not need to be nailed and rather can be fixed to joists or battens using hidden connecters that slot into grooves along the sides of the planks. This makes installation quick and easy, and enhances the rigidity, stability and toughness of the decking boards. In fact, performance figures from FIBA DEK temperature testing indicate that the boards undergo less that 1mm thermal movement per metre across a temperature change of 120 degrees celsius.
FIBA DEK boards are available with maximum spans of 350mm (commercial) and 400mm (residential) and in standard lengths of 4500mm. The wood composite boards are easy to machine to desired lengths using basic tools such as a circular saw, crosscut mitre saw and cordless drill. The 25mm thickness of the boards is ideal for decking applications.
In addition to this long list of functional innovations, FIBA DEK’s aesthetics are second to none - offering a range of stunningly realistic timber look finishes. The deeper, reddish stain of Cedar, the lighter orange hue of Alder, the brown ochre-like Cinnamon, and the striking ashen prominence of Charcoal ensure that there is a finish that will add to any contemporary design. And with an embossed wood grain finish, the luxury timber look is complete.
The lighter Alder stain was used to great effect to bridge the gap between interior and exterior at Jordan Springs Public School in NSW. The school - as do many modern schools - places great emphasis on the accessibility and inviting nature of its outdoor spaces. Featuring a beautiful native garden bordered by a sweeping concrete path, the design required the creation of a large multi-purpose decking area near the entrances to the buildings. The decking material had to be specified in accordance with the detailed requirements of the NSW EFSG (Educational Facilities Specification Guidelines to provide a safe, non-slip, hard-wearing and sustainable space.
FIBA DEK’s superior thermal stability was a key decider in selection. The added durability and lifespan of a product that is less prone to thermal expansion and contraction meant better value for money and less hassle further down the line. In addition, the three dimensional embossed coating on the product gives it a P0 slip rating in the pendulum slip test under AS 4586 - making it an incredibly safe product for use in the wet. The material composition and backing of EPD certified Innowood established the product’s high sustainability credentials and finally, the rigidity and impact resistance made it perfect to withstand the harsh use conditions of a schoolyard. The net result is that FIBA DEK has become the premium decking solution specified in schools.
FIBA DEK is a highly beneficial advancement for designers and specifiers across the country. It completely alleviates the standard concerns associated with timber decking - swelling or warping from excessive moisture and poor finishes, splinters, the maintenance associated with resanding or revarnishing when the time comes. Instead, the hardness and dimensional stability of a polymer mix is supplemented with the additional strength of the dual fibre layer, supplemented by wood and finished with an embossed skin to create a solution that looks - but does not behave - like the real thing.
Innowood has long been synonymous with technological innovation across its product range, and FIBA DEK is just another case in point.