This page reviews non-wood, synthetic, and man-made decking options from top brands in both Composite and PVC type material
Wood-Alternative Decking, Man-made Decking, or Synthetic Decking, like PVC Decking or Capped Composite Decking has become quite popular due to longevity, maintenance, and increasing lumber costs. Man-made decking materials have developed greatly since the late 90s with the introduction of Composite Decking. Today the most prevalent type of non-wood or man-made decking is Capped Composite Decking, however PVC Decking is a preferred decking choice for many high-end deck builders. Synthetic Decking typically measures at about 5.5 inches wide and is about 1 inch thick. Decking is aviailable in 12 foot, 16 foot, and 20 foot grooved decking boards, and 16 foot and 20 foot solid decking boards. Man-made 11.5 inch fascia is available to cover stringers, and joists. Select collections have an available 7.5 inch wide riser for steps.
The introduction of Composite Decking in the 90s, made from recycled plastics and recycled or new wood fibers fused through an extrusion process radically changed the way people viewed low-maintance decks. However, early composites had a difficult time entering the market, and had some “kinks.” While the composite decking performed well, it would eventually fade and tended to absorb oils leaving colored stains on the deck. Some batches of composite decking even had problems with disintegrating, and a couple class action lawsuits gave composite decking a bad name. However, companies like Trex and Evergrain handled claims well and Evergrain, a Tamko product, is still produced and sold in select colors.
Capped Composite Decking
After the dust settled from composite decking’s shortcomings, Manufactures realized that with some ingredient modifications and an exterior coating of cap-stock similar to that of a golf ball, new composite boards called Capped Composite could become a great success. Indeed that was the case. Capping the composite decking lead to truly low-maintance deck board impervious to staining and fading, it was just what the market needed. Today Capped Composite is the most common type of synthetic decking and has a wide range of textures and profiles. Fiberon was of the first brands to provide a Capped Composite Decking and has a variety of profile options. TimberTech is another big name in Capped Composite Decking. They pushed the decking market with their innovative decking profiles and have the largest scale in composite pricing with the top collection costing nearly double the lowest priced decking collection. Envision is the Capped Composite Brand of Decking from Tamko, who also produces Evergrain. Envision decking has an incredibly dense coating that seems the most impervious to scratching. They uses a consistent grain pattern for all capped composite decking collections. Those three collections differ in price based on color variation alone. Capped Composite Decking is a great choice and can easily be cut with a Miter Saw or Circular Saw. Of course all capped composite fairs well against scratching, fading, and staining. Be sure to compare the differences between product textures, colors, and brand warranties. Some other Brands of quality Capped Composite Decking include Deckorators, Trex, and Armadillo.
PVC Decking or Polyvinyl Chloride Decking is a lightweight type of synthetic decking. PVC became most popular in the late 2000s as non-capped composite was becoming less popular. PVC Decking has limitations, but is the most malleable type of man-made decking ideal for curved applications, made possible with the right tools. PVC Decking is also easier to cut and install than composites making it a favorite for some of the most elite builders in the deck industry. Azek has the most options when it comes to PVC and has been an industry leader for years. Fiberon has a PVC collection of decking called Paramount and is a widely variegated line with unique colors and surface texture. Zuri is the latest and greatest Brand of PVC Decking with color profiles that are more than colors. They have a special method of photo etching their PVC Decking with photos of real natural wood. This gives the most visually realistic non-wood decking possible.
Fastening decking to substructure treated 2x8 or 2x10 material is the most common practice in deck construction. Traditionally wood decking is installed with face screws, meant to sit flush with the decking, and is a better option than nailing the decking down. Color match face screws were and are still the most common fastening application for Composite Decking, and many Capped Composite Deck are installed with color matched exterior screws. Fascia and Riser material should always be installed with face screws. PVC Decking was the first to allow for a hidden fasting system. Fastening systems like Cortex use a screw which is installed through the face of the deck and countersunk to a specific depth that allows a plug to be inserted and sit flush with the decking. Cortex, and now Starborn, both have excellent systems of screw-and-plug hidden fasteners. Hidden Fastener Clips like TigerClaw were the first to be installed via a recessed groove on either side of deck boards. Today all Capped Composite Decking collections have Grooved boards slotted to allow a clip to rest in the groove. Clips are placed tightly against the decking groove and fastened with a screw to the joist. Some systems of clip fastening require the screw to be installed at an angle, while other clips are installed vertically. Decking clips have become the most popular type hidden fastening because they leave no abrasions on the surface of the deck. No holes in the composite decking mean those products could be reused later in other decking applications.
A deck is an expensive purchase, and is closer to buying a car than it is to a “remodel” project. The bigger the deck the more expensive the material costs and labor costs. Decks that must be built as cheap as possible use treated 1x6 decking. People who can afford the cost of a high quality deck have a range in costs Capped Composite Decking from about $3 per board foot up to $6 per board foot. Capped Composite and PVC Decking may cost more than treated, but they will also last much longer with much less maintance, and look better the whole time. Deck costs can be reduced by improving on waste of material. Planning your deck around standard decking lengths of 12 feet, 16 feet, and 20 feet long will allow minimal waste of product and thus money. Decking fasteners can also be expensive. Face screws are the most cost effective, but hidden fasteners are most desirable can cost $1.20 per square foot and more. Railing is the other consideration in deck cost, for more, read our Railing Cost Comparison Blog Post. To get a deck quote, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org