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Composite vs Wood vs PVC Decking

Not only are we excellent painters here at Northern Ridge but we also do different kinds of decking. There are many options out there these days and we are here to help you decide what is best for your home.

Homeowners interested in building a deck for their homes have more options at their disposal today than ever before. With that in mind, traditional wood, composite planks, and PVC decking are by far the most popular choices. They are also three materials that are completely different from one another. In this comparison guide, we will touch on each material and tell you what you can expect so that you can make an informed buying decision.

Wood Decking

When you want a deck that’s just as natural as the outdoors, wooden deck boards are your best option. Traditional wood comes in a variety of sizes, from narrow to wide boards. While you can technically use any type of wood for a deck, there are certain species that are ideal for outdoor usage, while others aren’t cost-effective or don’t hold up well under the weather.

Redwood, Cedar, and pressure-treated lumber are the kinds of lumber used in decks across the United States. Pressure-treated lumber is the cheapest but is also infused with chemicals that make it resistant to weathering. Redwood and Cedar are both naturally resistant to damage from insects and will last longer than any other type of lumber outdoors without chemical treatment.

While that may seem ideal, both are expensive and can be hard to acquire, depending on where you live. Redwood is the sturdier of the two but typically costs more if you live on the East Coast. Oak and Black Locust have been used with some regularity as well, but again, the cost can be an issue along with warping if the lumber isn’t naturally resistant to the outdoors to a degree.

Composite Decking

Composite decking is available from dozens of manufacturers and comes in several widths as well. While it’s designed to resemble natural wood, it’s actually made from a mixture of plastic and wood fibers. What’s in the boards varies by brand, but it is a distinctive product that stands out from traditional wood decking or PVC planks.

This type of decking comes in two main formats but in dozens of styles and colors. Capped composite boards have an additional layer of protection in the form of a PVC shell but come at a premium compared to uncapped composite deck boards. You can learn more about the top composite decking brands in our guide, but the important thing to keep in mind is quality, given the number of manufacturers producing composite planks.

PVC Decking

PVC decking is on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to realism when compared to wood or even composite deck boards. These planks are made from a mix of PVC plastic with no wood filler or byproducts. They have a unique look and are extremely resilient in the weather outdoors because of their inorganic nature.

There is only one main style of PVC decking, but it’s available in two forms - capped and uncapped PVC decking. The latter provides more protection at a premium, while uncapped boards are cheaper. This type of decking isn’t as strong as wooden or composite deck boards from a structural standpoint, but they are lightweight and easier to maintain.

At the end of the day, composite vs. wood vs. PVC decking all comes down to what you want out of a deck. If you’re looking for something easy to maintain, and don’t mind sticking with one color for decades, PVC is an interesting choice. Composite decks are also easy to maintain, but can be stained with some effort and are more cost-effective.

They don’t have as strong of a warranty, and you won’t get any real guarantee with wood, although your color options are endless. Consider your wants and needs vs. your budget in order to find the perfect deck for your home, and check out our ultimate decking guide if you’re looking for more insight into any of these materials.

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