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What Is Better Composite or PVC Decking?

Monday, January 22, 2024

In the past, almost all decks were built with traditional lumber. Picking the material for your deck meant picking many different types of wood. But it’s not “once upon a time” anymore. More and more homeowners are seeing their old wood decks fade, crack, and split.

As a result, the decking industry is rapidly evolving with the introduction of new, low-maintenance decking materials. These deck trim materials can be used to make better decks and last for decades.

Which Deck Material Is Better?

In addition to traditional wood, there are now composite decking, PVC decking, and mineral-based composites available to build decks. But more choices mean it’s harder to choose the right decking material.

The best way to choose deck boards is to have a clear understanding of what you want in a deck. Then work backward to find the best deck material for you.

You should have a good idea of what you want in a deck before researching which building material is best for you. Then, to help you make your choice, we’ll go over how different types of deck materials vary in style and function.

What Do You Plan to Do on Your Deck?

Some decks are a quiet place to get away from the hustle and bustle. Enjoy a hot cup of coffee while watching the sunrise, or a glass of wine late at night to let the stresses of the day dissipate. Some decks are fine places to entertain family, friends, and neighbors for a meal or barbecue.

Have you thought about what you want to do on your deck? If you know what you want to do on your deck, you can choose decking materials that meet your needs.

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Where Is the Deck Located?

Does your deck have warm sunlight for most of the day? Or is it in a yard shaded by trees? Is the deck near a lake, pool, or other body of water? Does the deck face south or north? What is the weather like where you live?

When exposed to direct sunlight, temperature changes, or water on a daily basis. Different types of deck materials will react differently. Keep the location of the deck in mind as we discuss the natural properties of each material.

Who Will Use Your Deck?

Is your deck a place for you to quietly relax? Is it a comfortable place for you to get to know your friends or family better? Will you be holding large outdoor events such as dinner parties or barbecues? Do you have children or older family members come out to the deck to enjoy it with you?

Remember, you and your deck guests are the most important people. You want to pick deck materials that are comfortable and friendly for you and your guests, but also safe for everyone. These are all things you should consider when choosing the best deck materials.

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What Are the Different Deck Materials Available?

Let’s take a look at some of the most common deck materials and talk about the pros and cons of each. Then, we’ll tell you which material is best for you.

Traditional Decks That Require Care

Decades ago, almost all decks were made from different kinds of wood. People liked this deck material because it was easy to find and inexpensive. But over time, it became clear that this material had some drawbacks: it was expensive to maintain and didn’t last very long.

Hardwood or Pressure-treated Wood Decking

There are many options when it comes to wood. Most decks are made from pressure-treated wood, which has had chemicals added to it to prevent decay. As a result, pressure-treated wood is now a little stronger, but still not as durable as modern composite decking materials.

Also, pressure-treated lumber doesn’t have much of a different look. As a result, some deck builders are willing to spend a lot of money on rare hardwoods to give their decks a unique style.

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Composite Decking Materials

Overall, composite decking materials or PVC materials are the best materials for decks. This is because they last a long time and don’t require much maintenance.

Wood fibers and recyclable plastics are mixed together to make composite decking. This gives composite decking boards the look and feel of solid wood and does not require a lot of maintenance.

Composite wood decking does not need to be painted, stained, or sealed. Wood decks need to be stained and sealed every year, which is time-consuming and costly. Composite wood decking does not fade or discolor over time, so it always looks great.

Composite decking technology has evolved to the point where it has unique wood grain patterns. These wood grain patterns look so much like real wood that they can be used to create almost any wood look you can think of. Composite wood decking also comes in a variety of colors. Some look like expensive rare hardwoods, while others have unique shades that you won’t find anywhere else.

In addition, composite decking is long-lasting. It won’t warp, crack, or splinter like wood, and it won’t mold when exposed to moisture. Some composite decking has a protective polymer shell on the outside that prevents the color and structure of the decking from wearing off.

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Mineral-Based Composite Decking

Composite decking is getting better and better, and some companies have changed the mix to include minerals. Mineral-Based Composite (or MBC) is the name given to these decking boards. They have many of the same benefits as composite decking, but there are also some subtle differences.

Most importantly, mineral-based composite decking is very stable even when the weather changes. Any wood construction can warp, crack, and splinter in the wind and sun due to temperature changes. This is especially true of wood decks.

Composite decking boards do not expand and contract like wood does. As a result, they hold their shape better and prevent fasteners from loosening. Mineral-based composite decking boards go one step further because they don’t expand or contract when exposed to heat or cold. This makes for a very stable, long-lasting deck surface that doesn’t require frequent inspection and repair.

Mineral-based composite materials also have the best strength-to-weight ratio in the decking market. They are approximately 35% lighter than standard wood-plastic composites.

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PVC Decking

PVC decking boards are made only from manmade materials, while composite decking boards are made from a mix of natural and manmade materials. PVC, like composite decking, is long-lasting and low-maintenance. It looks good in any weather and lasts for a long time.

PVC decking does not contain any organic materials, so it is not as absorbent as composite materials. This means it is completely impervious to damage from mold, mildew, or bugs.

PVC decking boards are also better than composite decking boards. if your deck gets a lot of sunlight, it will cool down a little faster, but it tends to retain heat.

What Are the Best Deck Materials for Outdoor Living Spaces?

Now that we’ve talked about the different types of deck boards, let’s go back to your perfect deck and see how some of its characteristics relate to a certain type of deck board.

The Most Waterproof Deck: PVC Decking

PVC decking is the best material for decks that are waterfront because it doesn’t absorb water. Mold and mildew grow best in damp areas, and PVC decking doesn’t absorb water, making it the best choice.

It is important to note that most high-end composite decking boards are covered with PVC material on the outside. This keeps most surfaces of the decking boards dry. There is no problem using composite decking boards near water, and they are much more water resistant than standard wood decking boards.

If you want to use composite decking at the water’s edge, we recommend that you purchase capped composite decking with a polymer protective shell on all four sides.

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The Deck with the Most Styles and Colors: Composite Decking

If you want a certain color or style, the standard composite decking is the best choice. In recent years, composite decking has become more and more popular, and not only does it come in a wide variety of colors and finishes to choose from. Some composite decking manufacturers also offer customization services to meet your different deck design needs.

Best Performance in All Weather Conditions: Mineral-Based Composite Decking

If you live in an area with frequent weather changes, mineral-based composite decking will be the most stable option. This type of decking will not expand or contract during temperature changes. This means your deck won’t warp, move, or slowly come loose from its fasteners.

Keeping Cool in Hot Weather: PVC Decking

Whether you use wood, composite material, or PVC decking boards, decking boards can get hot to the touch if you’re in a sunny spot. If your deck faces south or is located in a hot, sunny spot, it can be difficult to walk around barefoot during the day.

However, composite decking takes longer to cool down than PVC decking. In other words, your deck may still be hot during a summer heat wave, but it cools down faster when the sun goes down and the temperature drops.

Color, sunlight, and the temperature of the location of the deck boards are the three main reasons that make them hot. Choosing light-colored (such as cool gray) deck boards will help prevent the deck surface from getting too hot.

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Most Durable Deck: PVC

PVC trim boards are also one of the best choices for long-lasting decking materials. One reason for this is that PVC will not melt in water. Most of the problems with wood deck durability are caused by water absorption, such as warping, splintering, cracking, mold, rot, and insect infestation.

Composite decking materials, including standard wood-plastic composites and mineral-based composites, are also a very durable option with a much longer service life than wood decking. That said, PVC decking is a bit better when it comes to durability.

Safest Place to Walk: Composite Decking

As far as foot grip is concerned, the surface of composite decking boards is usually the best. However, different boards will give different results. Each composite decking material or PVC decking has a different wood grain texture, some of which have better grip than others.

For the most part, composite decking will provide you with the best deck surface. It also won’t crack or warp, so you can walk barefoot on the composite decking surface with confidence.

The Most Natural Deck: Composite Decking

When it comes to low-maintenance decking materials, composite wood decking, which contains real wood fibers, looks the most like real wood. composite decking has a beautiful and unique wood grain pattern on it. Depending on the look you want, you can find composite decking boards with a smooth surface and cathedral grain or a rougher surface with deep grooves.

If you want your outdoor deck to have the look of a solid wood deck but don’t want to spend too much time and cost to maintain it. Then there is no doubt that low-maintenance composite decking is the way to go.

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Deck with the Best Strength-to-Weight Ratio: Mineral-Based Composite Decking

Mineral-based composite decking is the best choice if you want deck boards that are strong, yet easy to transport, move, and put together. PVC decorative boards are the lightest, while standard composite decking is the heaviest. Mineral-based composite decking weighs somewhere in between, and it’s the strongest.

Summarizing

In the debate between composite decking materials and PVC decking, the answer to the question of which is better or worse ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences.

Composite decking is made from a mix of wood fibers and recycled plastics, and typically has a more natural look and may be more environmentally friendly. On the other hand, PVC decking made entirely of synthetic materials offers impressive durability and water resistance and requires little maintenance.

Both options have their advantages, and both are low-maintenance, rot-, insect-, and fade-resistant. You’ll need to consider factors such as budget, aesthetics, maintenance expectations, and environmental factors. Ultimately, determine which decking material better matches your vision of a long-lasting, durable, and aesthetically pleasing deck.

Choosing between composite decking and PVC decking is a personal choice. Understanding the unique benefits of each material allows you to make an informed decision based on your unique requirements.

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