PVC vs Composite decks, the great debate topic plaguing deck builders and homeowners alike. Aren’t they both just plastic? Does it really matter which material I use for my deck? We’re here to clear up the confusion for you and help you figure out which material is best for you.
You’re probably tired of wood decks. They come with too much maintenance, they have shorter lifespans, and nature takes its toll on them in a much more visible way. Replacing your deck has become the best option rather than looking into repairs for things like wood rot and mildew every other year. It’s finally time to make the switch to something a bit more durable, something more weather resistant, something a little more Premium Quality.
Though they’re both made of synthetic materials, composite decks and PVC decks are not the same. Each one has its upsides and downsides, it’s just up to you to choose which one better suits your project. In this article, we’ll outline these differences, and help you along your way to picking which material for your deck installation is best for you.
What is composite decking?
Composite decks are made of a mixture of wood and plastic that forms a material much stronger, more durable, and heavier than wood. Generally made from recycled materials, the combination of plastic and wood pulp core makes it sustainable and resistant to things like weather rot and insects. Most composites these days are “Capped composite”, which is the plastic shell that protects the surface of the deck board. The capped surface is very durable and scratch-resistant and comes with fade and stain warranties ranging from 25 years to a lifetime. Compared to natural wood, it’s very customizable, and can be used to replicate the colour and aesthetic of natural wood if you prefer that sort of design.
What is PVC decking?
PVC is also made from synthetic materials but is actually 100% plastic rather than a combination of plastic and wood fibers. PVC decks are just as durable and long-lasting as composite decks and require just as little maintenance. PVC decks are also extremely customizable when considering which colour you want, and the overall appearance of your deck.
What do they have in common?
- Weather and moisture-resistant
- Extremely durable
- Super customizable
Benefits of composite decks
Appearance is the big deciding factor for many composite deck buyers. The fact that it’s a wood blend gives it a much more natural look if that’s what best suits the aesthetic of your home. It’s pretty common to find composite decks finished to make it look like real wood so that you don’t lose that rustic appeal while having a much more cost-effective deck. Some of the higher-end composites can almost fool you into thinking it’s real wood.
The added wood grain in composite decks also contributes to their slip-resistance, a feature not exactly commonly thought of when considering something made with plastic. If for whatever reason you need to step out onto your deck after it rains, the added texture and friction from the wood grain makes your trip that much safer. It’s also something to consider if you want to build your deck around a pool or any other water feature.
The last benefit of composite decking does not expand or contract as much as PVC. PVC decks will expand and contract with changes in temperature, something pretty common in a country like Canada. Composite is not by any means exempt from movement due to temperature changes, but it is more stable than PVC.
Benefits of PVC decks
Composite decks are heavier than wood decks due to their blend of wood grain and plastic. PVC decks are the exact opposite. Because of its 100% plastic build, PVC is a significantly lighter material, it’s easier to handle and makes the building process much easier. Deck installation is simple, and the material is extremely versatile.
PVC decks are also 100% mold and mildew resistant due to their make up of completely synthetic materials. Composite decks, because of the presence of wood grain, can still (albeit the chances are unlikely) allow for mildew growth. If your deck is in a shaded area (under a tree), or in close proximity to the ground, or near a body of water (pools, spas ponds) PVC is a better option.. PVC also tends to be cooler to walk on in comparison to composites, but whichever material you decide to go with, picking lighter colors will help with reducing heat retention.
Though PVC decks for the most part use less recycled materials, they are 100% recyclable once it’s time to replace your deck. Decks never last forever, regardless of how good you are with upkeep. So if you want a deck that, once it reaches its natural end, can be recycled, look no further than PVC. Composite decks, despite being made of recycled materials, cannot often be recycled.
Though they’re both great options, the choice between the two really comes down to which material best suits your deck installation. If you prefer something that resembles natural wood and want something that is a bit more affordable, composite decks might be for you.
Instead, if you want something lighter to help you with the deck installation, and your building in shaded areas or around pools, or if you’re more concerned for the recyclability of the deck, PVC decks might just be the material for you.
Another factor to keep in mind should be the cost of your build. Depending on the quality of your material, PVC does tend to be a little pricier than composite, as it is a premium product and their weather resistance is a large factor in determining the cost of the material.
- Composite decks range from $8-$14 per sq. ft
- PVC decks range from $12-$18 per sq. ft
Though both do tend to be more expensive than most natural woods, the pay-off in terms of durability, weather resistance, and cost-effectiveness is pretty massive if you don’t want to spend too much on maintenance.
Maintaining a wood deck can end up costing you up to 1000$ a year, whereas a composite deck might only cost you 200$ for the same square footage. So although the upfront cost is more, the cost over time is much less of a hindrance on your wallet. Consider these materials for your next deck installation.
The team at Mississauga Decks and Trim has worked extensively with both materials and can provide you with the help you need. Contact us for a consultation or for a deck installation, through this link or call us at (647) 321-1545