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Wood, composite, PVC – which cover material is best?

So you would like to upgrade the R&R by installing an aft deck next summer, but you may not know what materials most living decks are made of. This quick start guide lists the three most commonly used materials this year professional deck contractors. It will help you make the most informed decision before choosing the perfect deck.

Wooden decks

Wooden decks are the oldest and cheapest living decking material. They can be painted in any color with the appropriate exterior color. If cost is a factor and your climate is temperate, a well-treated wooden deck will hold up proper maintenance.

Annual maintenance

While they are the cheapest materials to build a deck with, if not properly maintained or if your deck ages, wooden decks can be the more expensive option because of their long-term cost. This is because organic wood decks are more susceptible to moisture, mold, insects, and wood rot than composite or PVC decks.

To avoid these problems, you will need to check, repaint, or repaint your deck annually. Otherwise, your wooden deck will be vulnerable to the elements and wood-dwelling insects.

Environmentally friendly – depending on the source

If you plan to use wood to build your deck, keep in mind that the distance the wood has to travel affects how much energy has been put into making and shipping the deck.

Consider using reclaimed wood

Reclaimed wood comes from active demolition sites. Depending on the service, great importance is attached to protecting and preserving the materials during the recovery process. This means that the end result is a brand new deck made from fully recycled wood.

Composite decks

Composite decks are real hybrids. Composed of a mixture of extruded wood fiber and plastic, composite decks offer the strength and likeness of real wood, as well as the moisture resistance of plastic. The cost of composite decks varies, but is usually more expensive than wood and cheaper than PVC.

Little to no maintenance

Because composite decks are extruded and made from plasticine, they don’t need to be repainted or repainted (or not repainted at all). The organic material is enclosed in the plastic resin, so boring insects are simply not interested in composite decks. The material can be cut, trimmed and shaped like wood and therefore offers this advantage over PVC pipes, which are less versatile as a building material.

However, this option also has disadvantages. Cheaper composite cover materials are prone to swelling, warping, and moisture damage if not treated well with a strong seal, sometimes referred to as a cap.

From a cosmetic point of view, composite decks can also fade over time from exposure to sunlight. In addition, they are not particularly scratch-resistant, which means that you need to be careful with garden furniture.

Are composite materials recyclable?

The short answer is no. The plastic and wood composite cannot be permanently separated. Generally, composite decking materials end up in landfills.

PVC decks

PVC decks, also known as “vinyl” decks, are made from polyvinyl chloride, one of the most widely used plastics in many industries worldwide. PVC decks are made of high performance material, which means for the consumer that they are generally more expensive.

No maintenance

This terrace material is made entirely of plastic and can be brought into almost any color and texture – be it wood, stone or other different textures. PVC is more resistant to scratches and solar radiation and offers no direct benefit to boring insects other than shade.

Susceptible to high temperatures

PVC decks can warp and denature in climates with excessive heat. If you live in a hot climate, a composite or wooden deck might be best. PVC decks also tend to get excessively hot after prolonged exposure to the sun, so summer barefoot fun with a PVC deck may not be a comfortable option.

100% recyclable

Some manufacturers automatically use a percentage of recycled materials in the manufacture of their PVC products. All PVC materials can be recycled and PVC decks are no different. If recycling is a big selling point for you, then you should definitely consider PVC or scrap wood as the raw material for your deck.


Now you have a good overview of the pros and cons of the three most common decking materials used in 2019. Make an informed decision about which material is best for your location, climate, and budget.

Download wood, composite material, PVC - which cover material is best?Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog lover, and avid beachgoer from southern New Jersey.

She writes for Superior Deck and Fence.