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Ever Wonder About the Difference Between PVC and Composite Decking?

Repair and replacement of wooden deck or patio with modern composite plastic material

Written by My Home Handyman

June 13, 2023

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Decking materials play a crucial role in enhancing the beauty and functionality of outdoor living spaces. Among the various options available in the market, composite and PVC decking have gained significant popularity due to their durability, low maintenance requirements, and attractive appearance. However, it is important to understand the differences between these two materials to make an informed decision for your decking project. In this blog post, we will explore the dissimilarities between composite and PVC decking, comparing their composition, characteristics, and benefits.

Composite Decking: The Blend of Natural and Synthetic

Composite decking is a type of decking material that combines wood fibres or flour with plastic polymers to create a durable and long-lasting product. The wood fibres are often sourced from recycled materials, such as reclaimed wood or sawdust, while the plastic polymers typically consist of polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), or a combination of both. Here are some key features of composite decking:

Appearance: Composite decking is designed to resemble natural wood, with various grain patterns and colours available. It offers the aesthetic appeal of wood without the associated drawbacks, such as rotting, splintering, or fading.

Durability: The combination of wood fibres and plastic polymers makes composite decking highly resistant to rot, insects, and weathering. It does not warp, crack, or splinter like traditional wood decking, providing a longer lifespan and reducing maintenance efforts.

Low Maintenance: Composite decking requires minimal maintenance. Unlike wood, it does not need regular staining, painting, or sealing. Occasional cleaning with mild soap and water is usually sufficient to keep it looking its best.

Environmental Considerations: Many composite decking products incorporate recycled materials, reducing the demand for new timber. Additionally, composite decking’s long lifespan contributes to sustainable practices, as it minimizes the need for replacement and reduces waste.

PVC Decking: Unyielding Strength and Low Maintenance

PVC decking, also known as vinyl decking, is made entirely of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and does not contain any wood fibres. PVC is a synthetic material renowned for its strength, resilience, and durability. Here are the distinguishing characteristics of PVC decking:

Impervious to Moisture: PVC decking is entirely waterproof, making it an ideal choice for areas prone to moisture, such as poolside decks or docks. It does not absorb water, preventing issues like rot, mold, and mildew.

Fade and Stain Resistance: PVC decking is highly resistant to fading and staining caused by exposure to sunlight, moisture, or spills. Its colour remains vibrant and consistent over time, requiring minimal effort to maintain its aesthetic appeal.

Splinter-Free and Slip-Resistant: PVC decking is smooth and splinter-free, providing a safe and comfortable surface for walking barefoot. Additionally, many PVC decking products incorporate slip-resistant features, ensuring enhanced safety, especially in wet conditions.

Low Maintenance: Similar to composite decking, PVC decking demands minimal maintenance. It does not require staining, painting, or sealing and can be cleaned with simple soap and water.

Choosing the Right Decking Material

Selecting the most suitable decking material for your project depends on various factors, including your preferences, budget, and the specific requirements of your outdoor space. Consider the following points when making your decision:

Aesthetic Preference: If you desire the natural appearance of wood, composite decking may be the better choice, as it offers a range of wood-like finishes. However, if you prefer a more uniform and contemporary look, PVC decking provides a sleek and consistent surface.

Resistance to Moisture: If your deck will be exposed to high levels of moisture or is located in a humid climate, PVC decking’s superior waterproofing capabilities make it a suitable option. It is highly resistant to moisture-related issues, such as rot, mold, and mildew. Composite decking, although water-resistant, may still require proper ventilation and periodic maintenance to prevent moisture buildup.

Durability and Maintenance: Both composite and PVC decking offer exceptional durability compared to traditional wood decking. However, PVC decking is generally considered to be slightly more durable due to its solid PVC composition. It is highly resistant to scratches, stains, and fading, making it an excellent choice for high-traffic areas or households with active children or pets. Composite decking, while durable, may be more susceptible to scratching and fading over time.

Climate Considerations: Climate can impact the performance of decking materials. In areas with extreme temperature fluctuations, composite decking’s ability to withstand expansion and contraction without warping or cracking may be advantageous. PVC decking is also known to perform well in such climates due to its resistance to temperature changes.

Budget: Price can be a determining factor when choosing between composite and PVC decking. Composite decking materials generally fall within a moderate to higher price range, depending on the brand and specific features. On the other hand, PVC decking tends to be at the higher end of the price spectrum due to its exceptional durability and waterproof properties. Consider your budget and long-term investment when making a decision.

Conclusion

in summary, both composite and PVC decking offer numerous advantages over traditional wood decking, such as enhanced durability, low maintenance requirements, and resistance to rot and insects. Composite decking combines wood fibres with plastic polymers, providing a natural wood-like appearance, while PVC decking is entirely composed of polyvinyl chloride, offering unparalleled strength and moisture resistance.

When selecting the right decking material for your project, carefully consider your preferences, budget, climate, and specific needs. If you prioritize a wood-like aesthetic, affordability, and excellent overall performance, composite decking may be the ideal choice. Conversely, if you require a completely waterproof, fade-resistant, and low-maintenance option, PVC decking would be a suitable option.

Ultimately, both composite and PVC decking have their unique qualities and benefits. By understanding their differences, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your desired aesthetics, maintenance expectations, and budget, ensuring a beautiful and long-lasting outdoor living space.

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