There’s no denying that there have been several innovations in the decking industry over the last few years.

Perhaps the most significant of these have been in the materials used to construct decks.

In particular, there have been two main types of material that have risen to prominence: composite and PVC.

So, what exactly are the differences between these two materials? And which one is right for your needs?

Let’s take a closer look…

So, What’s The Difference?

With regards to the differences between Composite decking and PVC decking. PVC decking is manufactured from 100% recycled plastic. Whereas Composite decking is made from a combination of plastic products and wood fibers.

Where both types of decking are similar is they both have a “cap” which is an extra layer of protection. This is what makes both types of decking low-maintenance as well as durable.

To really drill down into the differences, I think it might be helpful to look at both the pros and cons of each material that the decking is made from.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Composite and PVC Decking

The Advantages of Composite Decking:

  • Great durability
  • Extremely low maintenance
  • Friendly to the environment material
  • Lots of choices of different colors
  • It doesn’t splinter

Great durability

Since composite decking is made from a mix of recycled plastic and wood, it is very durable. In fact, most manufacturers offer a 25-year warranty.

Unlike many of its alternatives, it is resistant to insect damage, dampness, fading, rot, mold, and most importantly, it doesn’t splinter.

The fact that water absorption is so low also makes it ideal for poolside decking as it won’t become slippery when wet.

Composite decking is also becoming more and more popular because it is friendly to the environment.

The wood that is used in composite decking is usually recycled from other projects. And the plastic that is used is usually recycled as well.

Extremely low maintenance

Since the material used for composite decking is pretty much artificial, the amount of maintenance needed is pretty low.

If you think about it, there is no need to seal, stain or even paint it. In fact, all you really need to do is sweep it and hose it down or pressure wash it every months.

Friendly to the environment type material

Picture several thousand tons of plastics and wood being transported from incinerators and landfills to recycling facilities each year.

Composite decks are considered a more environmentally friendly option for deck construction due to the use of pre-and post-consumer recycled materials.

Lots of choices of different colors

The great thing about composite decking is the sheer amount of colors it comes in. In fact, it is available in a lot of the classic colors such as reds, whites, browns, and greys. You can also get them in a range of blues and greens.

It doesn’t splinter

Composite decking has the benefit of not cracking or splintering as well as the fact that is slip-resistant making it the perfect decking to have throughout the year, particularly in the winter months.

Trex decking is one of the most popular brands of decking since it is infused with fade-resistant and stain-resistant qualities.

Related: 28 Facts About Composite Decking

The Disadvantages of Composite Decking:

  • A lot more expensive than wood alternatives.
  • Not a natural feel or look.
  • Not 100% maintenance free.
  • You’ll need to shop for comparisons.

A lot more expensive than wood alternatives

Composite decking is a lot more expensive than its wood counterpart. However, even though the upfront cost is more, just remember that there will be a lot less maintenance in the long run.

This will give you more time to work on other parts of your garden or simply relax and enjoy your deck without having to worry about it.

Not a natural feel or look

If you are someone who likes the natural look and feel of wood, then composite decking might not be for you.

The fact that it is made from recycled materials also gives it a slightly different look and feel than traditional wood.

Not 100% maintenance free

As I mentioned before, composite decking is extremely low-maintenance. However, it is not 100% maintenance-free.

Like any outdoor surface, it’s going to get dirty and will need to be cleaned every 3 to six months depending on the level of traffic it gets. I recommend a light pressure wash or simply hosing it down.

You’ll need to shop for comparisons

There are a lot of different composite decking brands on the market and they all have their own unique benefits.

So, I recommend that you do your research and compare the different products before making a final decision. And don’t forget to factor in the cost.

Related: Cheap, Quick, And Easy Alternatives To Decking

The advantages of PVC decking:

  • It doesn’t need to be stained or painted.
  • Natural deterioration resistant.
  • It won’t stain or scratch.
  • Has a ton of versatility.

It doesn’t need to be stained or painted

The great thing about PVC decking is the fact that it doesn’t need to be stained or painted.

This is because the material is naturally resistant to both of these things. So, you can rest assured that your deck will look great for years to come without having to do any extra work.

Natural deterioration resistant

PVC decking is also naturally resistant to things like cracking, warping, mold, and mildew.

This is because the material is made from plastic that is not susceptible to these things.

It won’t stain or scratch

Another great thing about PVC decking is that it is also resistant to staining and scratching.

It won’t stain or scratch

Since PVC decking is made from plastic, it is also resistant to staining and scratching. This is a great feature if you have kids or pets because you won’t have to worry about them ruining your deck.

Now don’t get me wrong, over time PVC decking will show signs of wear and tear. But, it will be a lot less than a traditional wood deck.

Has a ton of versatility

PVC decking is also very versatile. It can be used for a variety of different applications such as decks, porches, railings, and even fencing.

It is also really easy to work with so you’ll be able to create the perfect outdoor space for your home.

Related: Deck Replacement: When It’s Needed & What You Need To Do

The disadvantages of PVC decking:

  • It’s all plastic so it might not look as natural.
  • Some people don’t like the plastic feel.
  • More expensive than wood.

It’s all plastic so it might not look as natural

PVC decking is made entirely from plastic so it might not have the same natural look and feel as a traditional wood deck.

However, there are a lot of different styles and colors available so you should be able to find one that you like.

Some people don’t like the plastic feel

PVC decking can have a slightly different feel than traditional wood decking.

Some people might not like the plastic feel and prefer the natural look and feel of wood.

More expensive than wood

PVC decking is generally more expensive than wood decking.

However, it is important to remember that you will save money in the long run because PVC decking is low-maintenance and will last much longer

FAQs

Is PVC decking more expensive than composite?

PVC is traditionally more expensive than composite. It’s also more durable and low-maintenance, however, so you’ll save money in the long run.

What is capped composite?

Capped Composite as its name suggests is composite “CAPED” by a PVC or plastic shell. This “caping” adds an extra layer of protection and makes it even more durable and low-maintenance than regular composite.

Can PVC decking show a wood grain pattern?

Yes, many PVC deck boards come with a wood grain pattern. This can give your deck a more natural look if that’s what you’re going for.

In Summary

PVC decking is a great option if you’re looking for a low-maintenance, durable, and versatile material. It’s more expensive than wood, but you’ll save money in the long run because it doesn’t require as much upkeep.

PVC is also naturally resistant to staining, mold, mildew, cracking, and warping, so you can rest assured that your deck will look great for years to come.

Whichever type of decking you go for, make sure you do your research and pick the right one for your needs.

Related: How Long Does Pressure Treated Wood Last?

About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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