What the Best Composite Decking Material?

By HomeAdvisor

Updated December 2, 2020

luxury composite decking on house

Updated: November 30, 2020

Composite decking is rising in popularity for its durability, low maintenance needs and style. At $4 to $13 per square foot, this material has a more consistent pricing than wood, which can vary from $4 to $30 per square foot.

On This Page:

  1. How to Choose the Best Deck Boards
  2. Composite Decking Materials
    1. Wood Composite
    2. Plastic Decking Materials
    3. Vinyl or PVC Decking
    4. Poly
    5. Rubber Decking Material
  3. Best Synthetic Decking Material Comparison
    1. Cheapest
    2. Lowest Maintenance
    3. Best Recycled Decking
    4. Best Engineered Boards
  4. Best Composite Decking Material Brands
  5. FAQs

How to Choose Synthetic Deck Boards

There are many synthetic decking materials from dozens of manufacturers. Consider the following when choosing the right one for you.

  • Appearance: color, texture and the availability of tiles vs. planks
  • Durability
  • Length of life
  • Price, though the cost to install a composite or PVC deck, no matter the material, is fairly consistent.
  • Brand warranty information
  • Sustainability
  • Additional features available and needed

Synthetic or Composite Decking Materials

Material Pros Cons
Wood Composite Best wood appearance Hard to recycle
Plastic Lightweight Can look fake
PVC/Vinyl Easy to recycle Stretches with temperature changes
Poly Less likely to sag Limited applications
Rubber Non-slip Can break down

1. Wood Composite

wood composite decking material

Wood composite is easily the most popular type and is usually the first thing that comes to mind when one refers to composite decking. It’s similar in look to laminate flooring.

  • Cost: $4-$12 per square foot
  • Length of Life: can last 20-30 years
  • Make: composed of recycled plastic and sawdust
  • Appearance: available in an array of colors. Comes in boards and tiles
  • Features: some types have grooves in the edges of the planks to allow for hidden fasteners

2. Plastic Decking Materials

plastic decking around a tree

Plastic or resin decking comes as a cheaper price than wood but has a shorter length of life. Be wary of cheaper brands that are prone to sagging

  • Cost: $5-$13 per square foot
  • Length of Life: 30-35 years
  • Make: includes a variety of products:
    • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) or vinyl
    • Polyethylene (PE)
    • Polypropylene (PP)
  • Features:
    • offers a reasonably lightweight and durable surface
    • does not need any sanding, staining or painting
    • requires a more extensive support structure than lumber because it is not as rigid

3. PVC Decking or Vinyl

pvc wood-like decking boards

PVC or UPVC is a broadly available synthetic option.

  • Cost: $5-$13 per square foot
  • Length of Life: 25-35 years – similar to plastic or wood composite but may not hold up as long
  • Make: 100% polyvinyl chloride
  • Appearance: vast color options
  • Features: extremely sustainable due to the ease of recycling

Vinyl is often synonomous with PVC, but it’s not always the same thing. It offers a strong surface with a modern look. It can come in a variety of types, including white and black vinyl composites with wood fibers. Talk to a professional when considering a vinyl option and ask if it has the same properties of PVC.

poly decking

4. Poly Decking

  • Cost: $5-$13 per square foot
  • Length of Life: 25-30 years – often lasts longer than other plastics
  • Make: made entirely from polypropylene
  • Features:
    • less likely to bend or sag than polyethylene or PVC
    • can support more weight than other plastics

5. Rubber Decking Material

rubber flooring tiles
  • Cost: $10-$16 per square foot
  • Length of Life: can extend the life of your deck by 5 years if placed over existing boards
  • Appearance: can appear similar to other synthetics, but feels soft and flexible
  • Make: comes in pre-cast tiles that can be placed on top of another surface, or poured-in-place for a seamless surface
  • Features: offers the greatest slip resistance of any material but can tear or gouge
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Best Synthetic Decking Material Comparison

changing from wood to composite

Best Discount Composite Decking Material

The cheapest composite decking material costs around $4 to $5 per square foot. Many brands, including Trex and Fiberon, sell products in this price range.

Best Maintenance-Free Artificial Decking

All artificial decking needs less maintenance than wood, but composite tops the list. It is slightly more durable than plastic, which decreases the need for repairs or replacement.

Best Recycled Decking

PVC is the most common due to its availability and ease in turning into new material. Old PVC can be reused over and over again without losing its durability.

Most composite and plastic decking materials contain some portion of old materials. Some are 100% recycled.

Greenest Man-Made Decking Material

Decking material made of 100% PVC is the greenest option. Although plastic comes from a non-renewable resource, manufacturers can recycle it over and over again.

Best Engineered Deck Boards

All synthetic materials are engineered. Engineered deck boards can be composite or plastic. For example, there is no standardized difference between “engineered PVC” and “PVC.” If homeowners want to compare products with these different labels, they may need more information to distinguish them.

Consult with a Deck Building Pro

Best Composite Decking Material Brands

Brand Products Warranty
Trex Wood composite 25 years
Azek/Timber Tech Wood composite, PVC 25-50 years
Fiberon Wood composite, PVC 25 years
Cali Bamboo/Bamdeck Wood composite 15 years
Duxxbak Wood composite Lifetime
Deckorators Wood and mineral composite 25 years
Gorilla Vinyl Lifetime
NewTechWood Black vinyl, synthetic grass or stone 10-15 years
DuraLife Polypropylene, wood composite 25 years
Duraroc Rubber 5 years
Compare Brands with a Deck Pro


Is “composite” decking made from recycled materials?

In most cases, composite decking contains some recycled materials. Be sure to confirm with the manufacturer. While it often contains old material, it’s not as easy to recycle as PVC.

Which type of composite comes in tongue-and-groove?

Any composite or plastic decking can come in a tongue-and-groove style. Most manufacturers sell at least one product with this feature.

Can I combine composite with other materials for my deck?

One can combine composite with other decking materials, but it can be difficult. Tiles from the same manufacturer often work well for this purpose. Just make sure they are the same height.

Is it more difficult to build a deck with composite over wood?

Building a deck with composite boards over a wood substructure is highly common. However, it’s not wise to install on top of other boards. Decking material needs to screw into joists for maximum support and durability.

How can I hire a composite decking professional?

The best composite deck materials come with professional installation from a deck builder near you. When you start the process to hire a deck builder:

  1. Get quotes from three pros
  2. Talk about your budget
  3. Ask detailed questions

This will help you find a pro that can do a great job.

Hire a Decking Pro Near You

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