Composite Decking

By HomeAdvisor

Updated October 10, 2017


Composite decking is a decking material that is composed of several different recycled materials, though mainly hard plastic and wood. This type of product came about to extinguish the problems of typical wood decking. Wood fades, molds, cracks, splinters, and needs to be treated and sealed regularly for the deck to maintain its original look and feel. When composite decking materials came on the scene less than a decade ago, it curbed many of the problems typically associated with wood decks.

The Decking Advantage

This type of decking is a little more expensive up front than wood materials. Where you save money is that you won’t have to treat a composite deck or porch, it won’t crack or splinter (causing you to have to replace individual boards), and this material has exact, uniform coloring.

While a wood porch or deck might be cheaper to build, it will continually cost the homeowner more money each season in maintenance and repairs. With composites, a little washing every now and again it all it needs.

Composite Decking Brands

There are as many as 10 brands of composite decking materials on the market today. Some brands are best used for ocean side decks, as they are more resistant to the salt in the air; some are the most solid; some offer more colors; some have more unique railing systems. The choice is yours as to which brand fits your exact needs.

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Problems with Composite Decking Materials

When composites came out they were touted as never staining, never needing maintenance, and never fading. Now that a few years have passed, homeowners have seen the real truth behind these claims. While no product will ever be able to replace the natural beauty of wood, since composite decking materials are man made, they can also be man-improved.

Certain companies that make composite brands have been working round the clock to improve their product. These products are now more resistant to stains, they don’t fade like wood, but they do need a little maintenance. Early on it was said that these materials would never grow mold. The fact is that any material can grow mold. That is just the nature of mold growth. As a result, all you need to do is wash your composite deck every so often to keep mold from latching on (which is a good little trick for your siding, too).

Other advances have been installing grain patterns in the decking to imitate the look of wood, as well as offering several more colors than was possible 5 years ago.

How Much Does Composite Decking Cost?

Composite decking cost is measured by square feet; it’s about $35 per sq. ft. This will vary depending on the exact material you choose and may not include labor.

Final Thoughts

Composite decking companies are making a product that will save you money by eliminating maintenance, repairs, and finishes, while providing the same strength as wood decking. Plus this is great for the environment. No mater what your preferences, this product can answer the call.

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  1. Carol Diesso, July 10:

    Can you recommend someone who can fix my deck. I had a guy power wash it and there are lines everywhere. He must have used too strong a mist. Can anything be done?

  2. Paul Briere, February 10:

    Hi Carol,

    I’m so sorry Carol, unfortunately there is not a lot you can do to fix the power washing companies mistake. I see this often which ruins the decking by putting a 1/8” groove all through out the boards surface. To belt sand all the boards would not be cost effective! Transparent and solid stain will show every mark. The product called Deck Over from Home Depot which uses a sand additive, is still not a product with its ununiformed coverage will still show the grooves and all the existing cracks!!! Over rated from Home Depot. I’m more than happy to help with any advice or quotes to help resolve your issues.


  3. Jill, August 1:

    Here’s my take on composite decking (we installed Envision, about 6 months ago)

    1. Every time the weather heats up, the fascia, made of Envision fascia planks, bends outward, warping and presenting a safety hazard to anyone who might catch a toe on our stairs. The fascia shrinks and expands daily, leaving a gap so large between the stairs and the fascia that one can easily fall after tripping on the gap.
    2. The color, after only 6 short months, has faded significantly, so much so that our painted risers are now much darker than the rest of the stairs. Even painted wood does better than this.
    3. Anything—and I mean, literally anything—that falls on the Envision decking stains it. We have water stains, pollen stains, rain stains, sugar water stains from hummingbird feeders, footprints, and many other unidentifiable marks that cannot be erased, cleaned, or made to appear less offensive. Even the plastic protective bottoms of our chairs have made stains. Is there anything at all that can be put on this product without making a mark? I don’t think so.
    4. The product is excessively slippery, even when not wet. It is, quite frankly, a hazard on stairs. I have to warn everyone to be careful on our stairs.
    5. The product looks like plastic, not wood.
    6. The company does not stand behind its products.

  4. Upstate Design and Const., September 24:

    TIP$ Composite materials are good for some things and not others.The decking I see people talking about.I have been building decks for 32 years Composite seems to fade a little faster.In the summer you have 60%of your decking in the sun.In the winter you get 60% in the sun but 30% of it was what was coveted in the summer.Now you have decking with 3 shades.Wood is cheaper and can be manipulated with paint ,stains and other products.I’ve seen wood decking last for 30 years if taken care of right 2 times a year.It’s just a marketing stratagy to say it is maintenance free materiel.

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