What is PVC Decking?

My Home Handyman Deck

Written by My Home Handyman

March 31, 2022

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When it comes to building a deck, there a wide array of materials to choose from. One of the materials that has grown rapidly in terms of popularity is PVC decking. Though it is interchangeably used with terms like “composite decking” or “polymer decking”, there are differences between these materials.

PVC decking is made of a type of plastic known as polyvinyl chloride. It does not use organic material, which means that it can be engineered to avoid some of the issues that face organic decking. It is generally a lot more durable and capable of holding up against moisture exposure than those natural materials. This is partially why the cost of PVC decking is slightly higher than most woods.

What is PVC Decking?

The most important thing to remember about PVC decking is that it is made without the use of organic materials. Organic materials, which encompasses wood decks, use natural materials. The reason is because they are both more cost-effective and more environmentally responsible.

Because there are no organic materials within PVC decking, which is made of polyvinyl chloride, it is not susceptible to some of the issues that most wood decking contends with. Though PVC decking and composite decking are often times interchangeably used, there are differences between the two.

The Differences Between PVC and Composite

Realizing the differences between PVC and composite or vinyl decking is crucial. Though they are often times used interchangeably at the consumer level, there are a couple of major differences between each material.

PVC deck boards, for instance, are constructed of a high-strength plastic. There is also the potential of foaming agents that make it even stronger though make it lightweight enough to be used as decking boards. PVC decking can be used in the same manner as composite, aluminum, or wood for just this purpose.

The main difference between the two is that PVC is made from 100% recycled plastic whereas composite has a blend of plastic and wood in them. Both products have what is known as a “cap”, which is an extra layer of protection that makes them far more durable than organic materials. Because there are no organic materials in PVC decking, it tends to be a bit more durable and less susceptible to things like moisture.

What are the Pros and Cons of PVC Decking?

Like any decking material that you find out there, PVC decking has its good aspects and its bad. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and the cons to implementing PVC decking for your next deck project.

The Pros

The biggest pro of PVC decking is its resistance to mold, pests, and color fading. Simply put PVC decking will hold up well over time, giving you greater longevity out of your investment. And since it provides a high-end look, there is a lot less maintenance required in the form of staining or painting.

PVC uses foaming agents during its production, making it light and easy to move during he installation. Not only that, but the majority of PVC manufacturers also offer long warranties, which can provide peace of mind in knowing that they are covered for a long time to come. With the warranty, just make sure to go over any of the important features that cover fading, staining, and structural degradation.

Still, when compared to other decking materials, it is hard to beat PVC. The durability and ease of maintenance are huge selling points. It ensures that your deck will stay looking great for a long time to come.

The Cons

When you have a material that is durable and provides a high-end look, it is going to cost. PVC decking is generally priced at a higher premium than similar composites that are at a similar quality level. Price tends to be one of the most important considerations of homeowners when it comes to decking and this will certainly stretch a budget.

There are also some concerns about discoloration when using other PVC or rubber products like a welcome mat. The manufacturer warns against using them but there are far too many instances of it occurring.

Finally, there is a question about sustainability. The big selling point of composite is that a higher percentage of the materials have been recycled. PVC, meanwhile, uses virgin materials. If you are looking to keep an eye on your carbon footprint, then going with PVC decking may not be the best option.

Why Choose PVC Decking

If you are looking into having a deck built, there are more than a few good reasons to go with PVC decking. Of course, everything will come down to cost and PVC is one of the more expensive materials that you can choose. Past the cost, there is a lot to like about PVC decking.

Little maintenance required. Perhaps the biggest selling point of PVC decking compared to its counterparts is how little maintenance it requires. Wood and other organic materials require staining or painting. This is to not only improve the aesthetic quality, but to also provide proper protection from pests, wearing, and the elements.

With PVC decking, you can basically install it and forget it. No need to re-seal it each fall or perform any work on the aesthetics.

Great durability. The durability of PVC decking is pretty hard to beat. Since it doesn’t use organic materials like wood, it isn’t nearly as susceptible to warping, rotting, or splintering. The cap also ensures that it can hold up to regular wear and tear without any noticeable impact.

If you are looking to get the most out of your investment, PVC decking will hold up for a long time to come. No matter what you choose, you want a deck that will be around for a long time without major repairs.

Great warranties. If the durability and ease of maintenance weren’t enough, most PVC decking comes with some of the best warranties in the industry. It is a little extra peace of mind in knowing that your deck is cared for and that you can expect it to be around for a good, long while.

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