Composite, Synthetic Decking and Deck Railing Materials
June 1, 2015
Are you planning to build a new deck or deck railing and looking at your material options? While many homeowners and deck builders prefer to work with wood, the use of synthetic and composite decking materials has grown in popularity. Today, one in five homeowners selects composite decking over wood, since a deck made of synthetic or composite materials requires little regular maintenance and still looks nice year after year.
The Popularity of Composite and Synthetic Decking
Combining the best qualities of wood and plastic, synthetic and composite decking and railing are long-lasting, insect resistant and low maintenance products that do not crack, warp or separate due to varying weather cycles. They do not require water repellant or stain to hold up under extreme weather conditions. Composites are made of a blend of materials, including polyethylene (low-density or high-density), polyvinyl chloride and polypropylene—plus wood flour and additives that stabilize the plastic and protect it from damaging UV rays.
Environmentally-Friendly and Sustainable
Composite decking and railing is environmentally-friendly and sustainable, as well. ThisOldHouse.com reports that every 20 feet of traditional wood decking contains about 30 pounds of material destined for the landfill. The manufacture of composite deck and railing products uses millions of pounds of recycled plastic every year.
Careful Selection is Critical
Today’s composite deck and railing products are much improved over the original products introduced to the market years ago. Concerns about deterioration, mildew and staining in products manufactured during the 90’s and early 2000’s motivated many local building code officials to revise the codes to now require synthetic deck and railing materials to have a valid Evaluation Service Report (ESR) to be considered as approved for use in the municipality. Careful selection of high quality composite deck and railing product is critical, and the use of reliable reviews and ratings such as the ESR report, which provides test results for moisture absorption, abrasion resistance, fastener spacing and allowable spans—is advised.
Each of the three main types of composite deck and railing--wood and recycled plastic composites, polyvinylchloride (PVC) vinyl and capped composite, have distinctive qualities.
Wood and Recycled Plastic Composite Decking
Wood and recycled plastic composite deck and railing products are made of a blend of materials, including 30 to 50 percent recycled plastic blended with wood fibers to establish skid and stain resistance. Trex, TimberTech, ChoiceDek and DuraWood are popular wood and recycled plastic composite decking manufacturers offering warranties that range from 10 to 25 years.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Decking
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) deck and railing is made of new plastic resin, with deck planks that have good spanning ability. PVC decking is light weight in comparison to composite decking, and low maintenance, stain and mold resistant and scratch resistant. Three of the primary manufacturers, Kroy, DreamDeck and EZ Deck, offer limited lifetime warranties.
Capped Composite or Capstock Decking
Capped composite or capstock decking is a hybrid of composite decking and PVC decking. Typically, a composite wood flour and plastic core is wrapped with a thin veneer of PVC-like material. Capstock has the same advantages as PVC in comparison to composites, and is less expensive than PVC. Three popular manufacturers include Fiberon, Trex and TimberTech.
See more composite deck photos in our photo gallery.
Company: Feeney, Inc
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