luxury composite decking on house

Composite Decking Materials

Composite decking is rising in popularity for its durability, low maintenance needs and style. At $4 to $13 per square foot, this material has a more consistent pricing than wood, which can vary from $4 to $30 per square foot.

There are many synthetic decking materials from dozens of manufacturers. Here are a few ways to compare them so you can choose the right one for you.

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Best Synthetic Decking Material Comparison

Material Pros Cons
Wood Composite Best wood appearance Hard to recycle
Plastic Lightweight Can look fake
PVC/Vinyl Easy to recycle Stretches with temperature changes
Poly Less likely to sag Limited applications
Recycled Most sustainable May crack
Rubber Non-slip Can break down

Wood Composite

  • $4-$12 per square foot
  • can last 15-25 years
  • made from recycled plastic and sawdust
  • usually the first thing that comes to mind for composite decking
  • like laminate flooring for the outdoors
  • available in an array of colors
  • comes in boards and tiles
  • some types feature grooves in the edges of the planks to allow for hidden fasteners

Plastic Decking Materials

  • $5-$13 per square foot
  • Lasts only 10-15 years because it can expand and shrink in heat
  • made out of a variety of components, including:
    • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) or vinyl
    • Polyethylene (PE)
    • Polypropylene (PP)
  • sometimes called a resin
  • offers a reasonably lightweight and durable surface
  • does not need any sanding, staining or painting
  • cheaper brands are more prone to sagging
  • requires a more extensive support structure than lumber because it is not as rigid

PVC Decking

  • made out of 100% polyvinyl chloride
  • sometimes called uPVC
  • ideal color selection
  • broadly available
  • extremely sustainable due to the ease of recycling
  • may not hold up as well as plastic or composite

Vinyl Decking Material

  • similar to PVC but not always the same thing
  • offers a strong surface with a modern look that belongs among cool deck design ideas
  • white and black vinyl composites with wood fibers are available
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Poly Decking

  • made entirely from polypropylene
  • less likely to bend or sag than polyethylene or PVC
  • can support more weight and last longer than other plastics

Recycled Decking

  • most composite and plastic decking materials contain some portion of old materials
  • some are 100% recycled
  • PVC is the most common due to its availability and ease in turning into new material
  • old PVC can be reused over and over again without losing its durability

Engineered Deck Boards

All synthetic materials are engineered. Engineered deck boards can be composite or plastic. For example, there is no standardized difference between “engineered PVC” and “PVC.” If homeowners want to compare products with these different labels, they may need more information to distinguish them.

Rubber Decking Material

  • $10-$16 per square foot
  • can appear quite similar to other synthetic options, but feels soft and flexible
  • comes in pre-cast forms or poured-in-place for a seamless surface
  • offers the greatest slip resistance of any material but can tear or gouge.
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pool deck made of composite

Best Composite Decking Material Brands

Brand Products Warranty
Trex Wood composite 25 years
Azek/Timber Tech Wood composite, PVC 25-50 years
Fiberon Wood composite, PVC 25 years
Cali Bamboo/Bamdeck Wood composite 15 years
Duxxbak Wood composite Lifetime
Deckorators Wood and mineral composite 25 years
Gorilla Vinyl Lifetime
NewTechWood Black vinyl, synthetic grass or stone 10-15 years
DuraLife Polypropylene, wood composite 25 years
Duraroc Rubber 5 years
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changing from wood to composite

FAQs

What’s the best discount composite decking material?

The cheapest composite decking material costs around $4 to $5 per square foot. Many brands, including Trex and Fiberon, sell products in this price range.

Which artificial decking is maintenance-free?

All artificial decking needs less maintenance than wood, but composite tops the list. It is slightly more durable than plastic, which decreases the need for repairs or replacement.

What’s the greenest man-made decking material?

Decking material made of 100% PVC is the greenest option. Although plastic comes from a non-renewable resource, manufacturers can recycle it over and over again.

Is “composite” decking made from recycled materials?

In most cases, composite decking contains some recycled materials. Be sure to confirm with the manufacturer. While it often contains old material, it’s not as easy to recycle as PVC.

Which type of composite comes in tongue-and-groove?

Any composite or plastic decking can come in a tongue-and-groove style. Most manufacturers sell at least one product with this feature.

Can I combine composite with other materials for my deck?

One can combine composite with other decking materials, but it can be difficult. Tiles from the same manufacturer often work well for this purpose. Just make sure they are the same height.

Is it more difficult to build a deck with composite over wood?

Building a deck with composite boards over a wood substructure is highly common. However, it’s not wise to install on top of other boards. Decking material needs to screw into joists for maximum support and durability.

Consult with a Deck Building Pro

Composite Deck Material Reviews

The best composite deck materials come with professional installation from a deck builder near you. When you start the process to hire a deck builder:

  1. Get quotes from three pros
  2. Talk about your budget
  3. Ask detailed questions

This will help you find a pro that can do a great job.

There are so many options for composite decking materials that everyone has a favorite. Share yours and why it works so well for your home.


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