Best Composite Decking Material Reviews- Reviews and Expert Buying Guide
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Beautiful decking is one of the best things you can do for your home. Installing decking around your home can add natural beauty, warmth and desirability, and has to be one of the best decisions you can make when it comes to deciding on the style of your home.
Decking is durable, hard wearing and good looking. And stunning decking will add value to your home as well.
But there are a lot of decisions to make before you can finally settle on the perfect decking for you. Do you want wood decking or would you prefer composite decking? What’s the difference between wood decking and composite decking?
- What look do you want to go for on your deck?
- There are a lot of decisions to be made before you get started on your deck.
- What You Need to Know About the Best Composite Decking Material
- Best Alternatives to Composite Decking
- Our Verdict~ What’s the Best Decking Material to Buy?
What look do you want to go for on your deck?
Do you prefer the warm, natural beauty of wood decking or would you prefer the more modern look of composite decking? Or perhaps the durability and strength of vinyl decking combined with it’s other advantages?
What style and color will work best with the furnishings you have in mind for your home? What will match the curtains? What color or look do you feel most comfortable with?
- What grade of wood decking will you select?
- If it’s vinyl what look will you go for?
- Have you considered Trex decking and do you know what their decking is?
- What are the maintenance requirements of the different types of decking?
- What are the comparative costs?
- What differences in look are there?
- Are you going to install your decking yourself? It’s perfectly possible to do and will save you money.
- What do you need to know? What skills do you need? What tools?
There are all these factors to consider – and then some more. You’ll need to find out all about it and to have all the information at your fingertips before you make any decisions about the perfect decking for you.
What You Need to Know About the Best Composite Decking Material
Composite decking not only adds to the appearance of your home, but it is also low maintenance.
When you use the best composite material for your decking, you have a deck that won’t fade from the light or heat of the sun, one that is safe for children because it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals and best of all, you have durable composite decking.
Because of these valuable qualities, composite decking can maintain its beauty and color for years. Composite decking is an extremely wise choice in decking.
You will never have to paint, stain or seal the deck when you use composite decking material. Composite decking is resistant to rot, so you will never have to replace any rotten planks or worry that after a while someone may fall through.
It is easy to care for composite decking material to keep it looking new year after year. You do need to periodic cleaning when you use composite material for decking.
Power washing works really well as does any cleaner intended for general use. You may have to use rock salt or calcium chloride to melt the snow and ice off the decking if you live in a northern climate.
Composite Decking Looks And Feels Good
It doesn’t matter what color of composite decking you choose. The color will stay vibrant and even during the hottest part of the day, it will stay cool to the touch. This is because composite decking material is composed of highly reflective color pigments to help it resist fading in the bright sunlight.
Composite decking is made using recycled wood and pure polymers and this creates a strong material that is well able to withstand the elements of the weather.
In contrast to traditional wooden decking, composite decking is splinter free. It is also slip-resistant so you there is no danger of someone slipping and falling because of a slippery deck.
In the winter months, you will have to keep it free of ice and snow if you don’t want any slippery patches, but the salt will do the trick without harming the composite decking material.
According to numerous composite decking reviews, composite decking is not only suitable for patios but is one of the widely used materials for pool decking and boat docks. The patented process of making this composite material ensure that your deck will not show the signs of wear and tear that are normal in the spring.
If you are worried that your composite decking material may become mildewed, you should wash it down on a regular basis with a cleaner containing sodium hypochlorite. If your deck is near trees, you should clean with this type of cleaner even if the composite decking looks clean after each wash.
Mold and mildew can build up in small cracks where pollen, dirt, grass, and leaves are present. The old adage applies when it comes to cleaning composite decking – It’s better to be safe than sorry. With very little work composite decking can actually outlast you and your home.
Trex Decking – Get The Best Of Wood And Plastic
Trex decking is made from a combination of reclaimed wood and plastic. The use of plastic helps to protect the wood from moisture and makes the decking resistant to insect infestation.
The wood in Trex decking keeps the plastic from being damaged by the UV rays of the sun and provides a natural look and feel to the composite decking.
With Trex decking, you have low maintenance because you won’t have to do any painting, staining or repairing.
Trex composite decking is different from traditional wood decking, even though it is made from wood.
Some of the fantastic features of Trex decking that will allow you to use your deck for a lifetime include the fact that it will not rot and is splinter free.
You can get this decking in three different finishes
- Wood grain
There are also seven different colors for you to choose from. When you look at the Trex decking prices, you may be inclined to choose a cheaper decking material, but you do need to think of the long-term use you will enjoy when you have it installed.Most decking retailers carry Trex composite decking. If you cannot find it in your local area, you can order it online to even call the company’s toll-free telephone number.
Why we like Trex Decking
However, if you allow gaps between the boards from side-to-side and at the end joints, this will allow for thermal expansion and contraction.
You can paint or stain Trex composite decking, but you don’t need to do it for protection. If you do want to change the color of the Trex decking, the Trex experts recommend that you use quality latex paint and solid colors.
Best Alternatives to Composite Decking
1. IPE Decking – Rated The Best Decking Material In The World
IPE decking is pronounced ee-pay and is the finest wood decking that you can buy. It is made from extremely dense wood with tight grains.
- IPE decking is usually a deep rich brown color although some pieces of the wood can display red and amber hues.
- It has the hardness of 3600 pounds and is the highest rating decking material against insect infestation.
- IPE decking is resistant to decay and carries a 100-year lifespan.
You can get IPE wood decking in either air-dried or kiln-dried varieties. If you want to use IPE decking material outdoors, then it is best to buy the air-dried IPE decking.
If you use it inside, it will shrink, so it is intended only for outside use.
It is also possible to use this kind of wood decking indoors.
When you are planning to install this wood decking, IPE decking experts advise that you allow it to sit for a few days first so that it can get acclimatized to the temperature of the surroundings.
You should also allow room for ventilation on the deck so that the wood decking will remain stable in the ground.
IPE Wood Decking is seriously hard stuff, and that’s good.
IPE decking is extremely hard so you will need a premium carbide tipped saw blade for cutting the planks of wood.
When you have to drill holes in the IPE wood decking, it is better to use brad point bits or fastner bits because these will give you cleaner holes.
How to install IPE decking
When you receive IPE wood decking, IPE ships it with a clear wax seal on the endgrains so that there won’t be any end checking. When you have to cut the ends of the decking, you need to seal the fresh cuts that are exposed within 24 hours.
You can buy this sealant when you buy the decking and one quart will be enough to seal 500 sq. feet of wood decking. You simply use a paintbrush to apply it.
There are three methods you can use for fastening the IPE decking to other structures.
- There are plastic clips that you can buy that fit into slots on the edge of the wood decking.
- IPE allows for a stainless steel screw to be then screwed into the joist. This method of fastening IPE wood decking is the recommended method because the other two require installation from the bottom of the deck.
- The other method of fastening IPE decking is by using face screws. With this method you countersink the screws into the face of the wood decking and the finish screw method, which also affects the face of your IPE deck.
2. Vinyl Decking- Most Durable Decking Material
Vinyl decking is one of the best and most durable decking materials you can ever buy. It is much like the US Postal Service – neither wind nor rain nor snow will damage it 🙂 .
In addition to these characteristics, vinyl decking material won’t crack, warp or blister from the heat of the sun. It is, therefore, the best decking material for outdoor use.
The durable PVC construction will keep it looking like new and you won’t ever have to paint or stain it. Vinyl decking doesn’t rot so you will never have to replace one of the planks.
Although vinyl decking material is more expensive than wood, it will last a lifetime. You have no danger of small children getting splinters in their hands or feet or of hurting themselves with nails that may have worked loose.
Vinyl decking also provides you with a permanent worry-free deck. The only work you have with vinyl deck material is installing it. Then you can sit back and enjoy it for the rest of your days.
An occasional washing will keep it clean and when you use the best cleaners for vinyl you will also prevent any buildup of mildew on the decking. You can easily sweep it with a broom and your garden hose will do fine for washing.
And it doesn’t look like a vinyl deck
The vinyl deck material comes in the same color of wood so it looks just like you have a wood deck. It is also available in white, beige and grey, if you prefer another color.
- Even in the hottest days of summer, the vinyl will remain cool to the touch.
- Vinyl decking is environmentally friendly. It is not harmful to children or pets
- if you ever decide to take the deck off your house, vinyl decking material is 100% recyclable.
- The raised rubber traction makes the vinyl slip resistant, which is why many people prefer to use this as the decking material of choice around their pools.
- Unlike wood and concrete, you won’t hurt yourself as badly if you should fall on a deck made from vinyl material.
- It increases the aesthetics of your home and because the vinyl deck material is expensive, it also increases the value of your home.
With vinyl decking, you can get the railings to match so you have a perfectly coordinated deck. You will need to have a wood deck frame and the starter boards for the vinyl deck need to be long enough to cover this wood frame. You can also allow for a 3 -inch overhang.
Installing vinyl decking
When you start to install vinyl decking, always start at the edge closest to the house.
Use the stainless steel deck screws and center them in the plastic slots that come with your installation kit.
The decking boards are tongue and groove so you won’t have any problem fitting them together. If you have ever installed vinyl siding on your home, you won’t have any problem building a deck with vinyl decking.
3. Wood Decks – A Traditional Way To Add Spice To Your Home
Wood decks are the best additions to any home. You can locate wood decks anywhere you wish. You can have the wood deck separate from or attached to your house.
There are many different designs of wood decks and many different kinds of wood that are well suited as deck material. When you look at the many different plans available for wood decks, you may decide to become creative and create your own design.
You can build wood decks any size that you want. You can also get wood deck plans that include areas for barbeques and planters as well as a fire pit or a heater.
If wood decks are properly built they are easy to maintain.
Wood deck plans offer you all sorts of options
Some of the wood deck designs include raised decks, patios, balconies and roof decks.
Patios are usually wood decks that are low to the ground, while balconies are similar to roof decks in that they are cantilevered designs for the upper rooms of the house.
When you are looking for wood deck plans, lumberyards carry all kinds of plans. They also carry kits that include everything you need to build the deck from start to finish.
The Internet is also a good source of wood deck plans and designs. You can purchase plans for wood decks, but there are many sites where you can download all the wood deck plans you want for free.
You can even view pictures of wood decks to get an idea of the different wood deck designs and based on these photos you can design your own by incorporating features of several decks into one.
The plans help you to have the deck that you want and still stay within your budget. By completing the deck yourself, you save money because you don’t have to hire a contractor. It is also a good weekend project for you and your buddies.
The use of wood in building a deck has become increasingly popular because of the availability of lumber that is resistant to all kinds of weather.
Cedar and redwood are the two main types of wood used in wood decks because they are resistant to some types of insect infestation and they last a long time.
They are also soft woods, which makes them easy to work with when using wood deck plans and designs. Treated lumber is not recommended for wood decks in areas where there are small children and pets because the chemicals used in the treatment could be harmful.
4. Plastic Decking- Also Among the Best Decking Materials
Plastic decking is a composite material for decking of which plastic is one of the components.
Other components of this decking material include reclaimed wood. Several different types of plastic can be used in plastic decking, depending on the manufacturer. Some use recycled plastic, while others use virgin plastic.
Plastic decking has significant advantages to some other types of decking materials.
The wood used in plastic decking varies more than the type of plastic. Quite often, this is how your recycled plastic pop bottles are used.
The wood used in making plastic decking material is usually in the form of fiber or sawdust.
Manufacturers of decking plastic that use polypropylene mix it with oak.
Others prefer to use waste wood, while others prefer using cedar when making plastic deck material. There are also decking materials made from vinyl and this is often lumped under the title of composite decking.
Even though there are additives in plastic decking they are not dangerous like those in pressure treated lumber. This makes this decking material quite safe to use where there are small children or pets.
The additives are included under high pressure and heat. The surface of the plastic decking material is then brushed with a coating to give it the natural color of wood.
Note: Vinyl decking is 100% plastic. But most of the decking plastic does contain some wood.
All plastic deck material that contains wood will weather over time and change color, but only slightly.
When you use plastic deck material for your patio, you will have very low maintenance with it.
You don’t need to stain or paint it, although you can if your wish.
You won’t ever have a problem with rot or insect infestation because this material is resistant to both.
The only problem that you may encounter with using plastic decking is that if you don’t wash it regularly, it is susceptible to mold and mildew.
If you do decide to paint or stain your plastic decking material you should use a high quality oil-based paint or stain. However, once you start doing this, you will have to continue because the color of the decking plastic will fade.