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Chris Breen

Chris Breen, Principal Owner of Legacy Decks and Outdoor Living and has been serving families in Upstate South Carolina since 2005.

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Composite Decking Types: All You Need To Know

Thinking about a new deck? Composite decking is a great choice because it lasts longer and doesn’t require as much maintenance as other materials.

But what is composite decking? And are composite products really worth the extra cost vs. wood? With so many options on the market, how do you know which decking product to choose for your deck?

This guide will help you when choosing composite decking for your home. It will give you information on some of the most popular brands and products on the market.

With all the knowledge here, you’ll be able to make better decisions when you get started on your dream deck!

 

What is Composite Decking? What is PVC Decking?

The technology of composite decking products has come a long way in recent years, making them more durable and low maintenance than ever before. Not only do these boards look good, but they’re also easy to clean and care for. Composite decking solves many of the issues of conventional wood decking, resulting in a safer and more practical outdoor space for your home.

People usually think of composite decking as any man-made wood alternative. However, there are different types of man-made decking products:

  • Capped composite deck boards are made with a mixture of wood and plastic.
  • Capped polymer deck boards (also known as “PVC decking”) are made with 100% plastics and man-made materials.

Technically speaking, PVC decking is not a composite material because it doesn’t contain wood. However, all man-made deck boards have similar advantages over wood: they’re lower maintenance, more durable, easier to clean, last longer, etc.

In this article, we will cover any man-made decking products that are relevant to your search for a long-lasting deck.

 

What are the Pros and Cons of Composite Decking vs Wood?

The average lifespan of wood is just 10-15 years, while composite decking can last 50+ years with proper care and maintenance. Knowing this, it’s easy to see why more and more people are choosing composite decking for their homes.

Benefits of composite decking over wood:

  • It is low maintenance. You won’t have to worry about rotting, splintering, or termites. Simply sweep it clean and pressure wash as needed.
  • It is safe. Composite decking is slip-resistant and splinter-free, making it a safer choice for your home, especially if you have small children or pets. An old wood deck is at a higher risk of collapsing, which could seriously injure anyone nearby.
  • It is durable. Composite decking can withstand heavy foot traffic and harsh weather conditions. In Upstate South Carolina, where moisture and insects are abundant, composite decking is a great choice to maintain the outdoor space of our clients.
  • It is environmentally friendly. Composite decking contains less wood, so it’s an eco-friendly choice.
Cons of composite decking:

  • It is more expensive than wood. The main downside of composite decking is the upfront cost. The initial cost of composite decking boards can be more than wood, but over time you will actually save money because you won’t have to replace the deck in a long time. You also reduce the risk of medical bills, as composite decks are splinter-free.
  • It can get hot. Composite decking can get very hot in direct sunlight, so it’s important to choose the right products. The color will affect the heat retention of the board, so keep that in mind when making your selection. Depending on the location of the deck and sun conditions, you may want to consider adding a shade structure such as a pergola. Also, consider decking that is heat-resistant, like Azek.
  • Can have a “plastic-like” look. Some composite deck boards can have a plastic-like appearance that some people find less than ideal for their home. Composite decking manufacturers are constantly working to create products that look more like wood and less like plastic. If you are concerned about the appearance of a composite product, compare samples of different brands in person to get a better idea of the look and feel. There are a lot of options, so find one with a color and grain pattern that you like before making your final decision. We’re sure you can find one that you love.

 

Is Composite Decking Worth It?

Wood decks are a tempting investment as they’re cheaper, but water will find its way through any cracks in the surface, leading to rot & mold growths.

Wood decks are completely powerless against the elements and will require constant upkeep or costly repairs sooner than later. While this may not be an issue at first glance – after just a few seasons of rainfall the problem will start to become clear!

Modern composite decking is extremely resistant to rot, mold, mildew, and insects. This means that your composite deck will stay looking good for years with very little effort on your part. It won’t rot, splinter, decay, burn – you name it!

By the time a wood deck must be replaced, a composite deck will still allow you to enjoy years of stress-free outdoor living.

 

What Does “Capped” Mean in Composite Decking?

Capped decking products have a protective layer of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) that shields the boards from moisture and stains.

The first generation of composite decking products didn’t have this protective PVC layer, and the boards were more susceptible to staining and moisture damage.

Composite Decking 1

Today, most composite deck boards are capped on 3 or 4 sides. Products only capped on 3 sides tend to be cheaper than those capped on all 4 sides, but the wood fibers are more exposed to moisture.

Composite Decking examples

PVC decking products are made out of 100% PVC, from core to cap. This makes them even more durable than their composite wood-plastic counterparts, whether they are capped on 3 or 4 sides!

 

What is Scalloped Decking?

Scalloped decking is a type of deck board with an underside that has a wave-like shape. Some of the material is removed from the underside of the board, allowing for a cheaper product.

The removed material also reduces the weight of the board. This makes it easier to transport and install. Scalloped decking designs are common in lower tiers of decking boards, as they contain less material overall and are therefore cheaper to produce.

What about scalloped composite decking vs solid? Is one of these types of composite decking better?

Scalloped deck boards are not as strong as a traditional board. The main benefit is the cheaper price, they can be a good option for those on a tight budget.

 

Composite Decking FAQ:

 

How long does a composite deck last?

A composite deck’s lifespan is anywhere from 25 to 50+ years. With proper maintenance, a composite deck can last even longer. The board you choose will also affect the lifespan, with higher-end boards being more durable than lower-end boards.

Which decking product lasts the longest?

If maximum durability is what you’re looking for, consider a vinyl deck. Azek is a great choice, as their PVC boards come with a 50-YEAR WARRANTY. (That tells you something about the product.)

Is composite decking worth it?

The answer to this question really depends on your needs and wants. If you’re looking for a durable, low-maintenance deck, then composite or pvc is definitely worth the investment. If you don’t care about your deck rotting and deteriorating more quickly, or safety hazards like splinters, wood can be a great option to lower the cost.

Why do you like TimberTech over other brands?

TimberTech is one of the leading manufacturers of composite and PVC decking, but it wasn’t always that way. Their drive to innovate led them to create some of the best-looking and most low-maintenance boards on the market today. We believe in innovation and going the extra mile to go against the grain. Timbertech’s longer warranties and unique features such as heat-resistance in some of their decking lines make it an overall better choice for decking in our experience.

Can you pressure wash composite decking?

Yes, you can pressure wash composite decking. Just be sure not to use excessive force or water pressure, as this can damage some boards. You’ll also want to avoid using a harsh cleaner, as this can also damage the boards.

 

Still Have Questions?

We know how important it is to have all the information you need when planning your dream deck. That’s why Legacy Deck is here to help you! Request a free estimate to get the process started. We’ll take you through every step of the way and finally make your goal of spending more time outside a reality.