New Composite Decking

Made with wheat straw, not wood flour

For its Terra line of deck and fence boards, Wyoming manufacturer Natures Composites uses a combination of recycled high-density polyethylene and wheat straw that it says is stronger and ecologically friendlier than competing wood-plastic composite materials.

TerraDeck, which comes with a 20-year warranty, resists water absorption, shows low amounts of thermal expansion, and will not splinter or crack, says the company.

The product's "green" appeal is that 94 percent of it is made from recycled milk jugs and wheat straw - an agricultural by-product and a renewable resource.

The 1-inch-by-5 3/8-inch planks come in three lengths - 12 feet, 16 feet, and 20 feet - and in two profiles: slotted to accommodate hidden fasteners, and solid. Available in six colors, the boards have better color retention than conventional composites, according to the company, and do not require painting or staining.

Natures Composites also manufactures a co-extruded plank, the Ultimate series, in three colors.

Natures Composites is a new iteration of Heartland BioComposites, a company that produced composite lumber from 2006 until its doors closed in 2009. After that, its assets were purchased by a group of investors that included Heartland president Heath Van Eaton, and the company was revived last year in its original location in Torrington, Wyo.

The company declined to provide pricing and said it was working on a national distribution plan that would be announced later in the year.

Scott Gibson is a writer in East Waterboro, Maine.

Natures Composites, 307/532-9942,

Specialty Fasteners

Screws designed for capstock decking

A growing number of manufacturers are adding a layer of hard plastic to the outside of synthetic decking to give it greater durability and stain resistance. Enter the Cap-Tor fastener, created specifically for use with these capstock products.

Starborn Industries says the thread and cap design it developed for the Cap-Tor addresses problems most fasteners have with capstock decking, including dimpling around the screw head and "white shear," a discoloration that occurs when the fastener stretches the hard outer coating of the deck board.

Cap-Tor screws are available in two versions - Headcote (stainless steel with colored heads) and Deckfast (epoxy-coated, shown) - in 10 colors that are designed to match major capstock and composite decking brands.

A 350-piece tub of #10 x 2 1/2-inch screws (good for 100 square feet of decking) sells for about $72; 1,050-piece tubs are $204; and 1,750-piece tubs are $320. - S.G.

Starborn Industries, 800/596-7747,

Tarps with a Message

Repurposed billboard ads make tough tarps

Big, heavy-duty tarps are a godsend when you're doing demolition work, or when you need to protect building materials or ongoing construction from the weather.

And for seriously big, seriously heavy-duty tarps, you might want to check with Repurposed Materials, a Colorado company that recycles billboard advertising made from sheet vinyl. The company says the tarps weigh 13 ounces per square yard and are four times as thick as the familiar blue tarp you'll find at your local big box store. They also have a protective coating that minimizes damage from sunlight.

The three-ply material is a sandwich of vinyl and a polyester mesh, which gives the material some ability to stretch in high winds and helps stop ripping and fraying.

The tarps have advertising printed on one side and are blank on the other. They range in size from 12 feet by 24 feet up to 14 feet by 48 feet, but pieces can be seamed together with vinyl cement to form even larger sizes. Prices start at $60; for $39 more, the tarps can be shipped by UPS anywhere in the U.S.

The company also recycles a variety of other materials for new uses, including conveyor belts (which become flooring in trailers and warehouses, or mud flaps), snow fencing, XXL tires, railroad ties, 55-gallon drums, and plastic pallets. - S.G.

Repurposed Materials, 303/478-6193,