Which is Better, Composite Decking or PVC?

Philadelphia-compare-composite-PVC
Composite and PVC are the two most popular types of decking material, but which one should you choose? Let’s take a look at how they compare side by side in terms of durability, cost, installation, and more. Afterward, you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed choice.
 

What is PVC and Composite decking?

Both PVC and composite decking offer a combination of low-maintenance and durability, but each has its pros and cons. Maintenance matters – regular maintenance helps ensure they’ll look their best for years to come. Both are durable, insect resistant, scratch resistant, and come in many colors. Before you decide which one to go with for your project, keep reading below to see what you need to know about each. Typically the only maintenance you need is a good wash especially if trees are near by (un-capped is a different story).

PVC Decking

In case you didn’t realize it PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride, vinyl is most often used in plastic materials. In fact, PVC can make many products weatherproof as well as long-lasting. While rain doesn’t have much impact on PVC, normal wear and tear can cause chipping and peeling. PVC is ideal for moist areas like the beach. The fact that PVC is plastic to its core means it is mold and mildew proof. It does tend to have less traction when wet but manufactures are constantly making it better. PVC is also lighter in weight and 100% recyclable.

Composite Decking

Today’s composite decking is not only gorgeous, it’s also strong enough to provide traction even in wet weather conditions. Unlike PVC decks, composites are made up of polymers reinforced by fibers (usually either glass or wood) that are super durable when properly maintained according to manufacturer guidelines. Composite decking typically has a more realistic wood grain as opposed to PVC.

Water Resistance

While composite decking is also weather-resistant, it’s not as water-resistant as PVC. This may be problematic for homeowners who live in areas with high precipitation. In addition to being resistant to water damage, composite decks have the potential to grow mold and mildew due to their wood fibers.

Strength

One of composite’s biggest selling points is its strength. The material can hold up to 10 times its own weight, so you can build larger decks with fewer materials. This makes composites more versatile than traditional lumber decks and easier to construct. Many composite boards are also made from recycled materials like soybean oil and glass fibers, making them eco-friendly additions to your outdoor space. PVC is strong but requires closer joist spacing.

Cost

Composite and PVC are more expensive than pressure treated but cost less in the long run. Natural wood needs more maintenance, generally a new coat of stain or oil every 2-3 years. Manufactured decking takes a more time to cut and install so labor cost will also increase over something like pressure treated.

Value for Money

Not all outdoor decking materials are created equal. When it comes to composite decking vs. PVC you’ll have to ask yourself what you’re looking for in your decking material and how much of a factor price will be in your decision. Both composite decking and PVC have advantages and disadvantages that may make one better than another for different applications and for different people depending on their lifestyles. Low maintenance decking comes with a 25 -50 year warranty depending on manufacture and capping, Obviously the 25 year would be the less expensive option but if you are in your forever home a 50 year warranty would be optimal.

Best Practice for installation

Both composite and PVC decking have become popular in recent years due to their weather resistance, versatility and affordability. Each manufacture will have its own spec on how to install so it is important to read up on that before installing. Generally speaking you want to have your joist span 12″ on center to avoid sagging while you walk. There are many was to fasten your deck boards down but the most popular are hidden fasteners, these fasteners cost more but keep your deck looking super sleek. Deck boards will have to be face screwed such as boarders and steps but some companies have option to make the screws less noticeable. When installing PVC or Composite it is important to keep a gap, not only between each board, but at each butt joint. Your boards will move when the weather changes and if they are too tight the board will buckle under the pressure.

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