5 Misconceptions - composite deck
Updated: May 28, 2018
1. Composite and PVC decks get hot.
This is sometimes true. It's also sometimes true for wood decks. How hot your deck gets has less to do with the substrate of the product and more to do with the colour of the product. If you have a pressure treated or cedar deck and decide to stain it ebony on a southern exposure with no trees...it's gonna get hot. If you purchase a dark colour of composite or PVC deck of the same colour, guess what? It's gonna get hot. If this is a concern of yours then either plant some trees, build an overhang or purchase a lighter colour of decking product. TimberTech's Sandy Birch stays nice and cool on even the hottest of days.
2. Composite and PVC Decks are slippery.
Not really. Add water and yes some of these decks get a little slippery but most of these decks have an embossed grain pattern that adds to your traction. Wood decks definitely do not need an embossed grain pattern because they have well, a grain. Since we compare everything to wood I'm going to say wood decks get more slippery when wet and especially once they build up a bit of surface residue.
What about in the winter? Great question. Are these decks slippery in the winter? No. What is slippery in the winter is water because it turns to ice. If there is ice on your deck you will slip, because ice is slippery.
3. Composite and PVC Decks are more Expensive than Traditional Wood Decks
OK, I might be stretching here a little bit but I can explain the situation where a wood deck is more expensive. The structure of all decks is pressure treated so let's keep in mind that the only variation in cost is associated with the deck board themselves. So are composite and PVC deck boards more expensive to buy? Initially they absolutely, 100% are. However, how long are you planning on staying in your home? What standard do you have for the appearance of your deck? For the family that wants to stay in their house for 15 years or more composite and PVC become less expensive. You're not going to have the annual maintenance costs associated with a wood deck for one. More importantly, you are not going to have to replace all the deck boards. That's where the true savings come in.
4. Composite and PVC Decks are Indestructible
Not true. They are scratch, stain and fade resistant but they are not invulnerable. If you take a harder substance with weight on it and drag it across your deck, it will scratch.
Although most substances have no effect on these decks there are a few to be wary of. Bug repellent and suntan lotion will discolour your deck, so make sure you are not standing on it when you apply these (it's a chemical thing). Also any surface materials like dirt, calcium from hard water etc. will get on your deck and need to be removed. The deck isn't self-cleaning. Finally, keep rubber mats off your deck. People sometimes use these to capture grease from their BBQ's but instead they trap moisture between the mat and the deck. This will cause your deck to turn white (think cold glass on a wood table). It can usually be resolved by removing the mat and letting the moisture evaporate but it's probably better just to not have the mat in the first place.
5. Every composite deck is made from the same stuff.
Composite typically means a mixture between an organic and inorganic substance, at least how it relates to decking. What those materials are can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some manufacturers use wood flour in their composite core (and the type of wood will vary), other bamboo and some even use rice. Actually, one company thought it would be great to use recycled carpet in their decking - I don't think that worked out. Why the difference? Price and availability is the driving factor but performance plays a role in the decision as well. Usually there is a correlation between performance and cost. If a brand is less expensive, there might be a good reason for that.
You now have to consider what is in the cap stock as well as most composites are capped with some sort of wrap. Are they 100% inorganic or are there organics used as fillers in the cap stock. The problem with organics in a cap stock is that it can lead to blushing (the product discolours) or the formation of mould.
The final thing to note is that PVC decks are not composite decks. They do not have any organics in them are 100% cellular PVC with some sort of cap stock comprised of various plastics, minerals and metals.