Does composite decking get too hot to walk on?

Building a deck for your home does not only increase the value of your property, but it also provides a wonderful area outdoors where you may entertain your guests, family and friends. With this in mind, the use of composite decking as an alternative to natural timber is increasing in great extent due to its many advantages. Aside from being the environmentally friendly choice, it has many other advantages, including its low maintenance, its slip-resistant properties, its durability that prevents cracking, splintering or rotting and its availability in an extensive range of designs and colours. All of these advantages are brought about by the continuous technological improvements done in manufacturing composite materials.

It is therefore not surprising that more homeowners have decided to start using composite decking boards. However, there is one common question that keeps getting asked: “Does composite decking get too hot to walk on?”

In order to properly answer this, we need to look into several factors that may affect the temperature of any deck. These considerations include the deck’s degree of exposure to sunlight, the type of material used and the colour of the decking boards.

Degree of Exposure to Sunlight

All kinds of material soak up heat when exposed to direct sunlight. Even natural wood decking becomes too hot to walk on barefoot when it is exposed to the summer sun over a prolonged period. However, once exposed to high temperatures, timber does not just get too hot to walk on, it may also splinter, crack or shrink. Composite decking boards, on the other hand, can withstand the heat without such drawbacks.

Even though the summer season may not be long enough, and you want to enjoy the sun whilst it’s out, you are most likely stepping indoors once it gets too hot outside. Nonetheless, if you want to extend your time on your composite decking outdoors, there are options and solutions to keep your composite decking cool. One way is to plant trees that will create a shade over your composite decking —although the trees might take years to grow. Another alternative is to build a canopy over a portion of your composite decking, but if you want a less costly solution, you can simply add a patio umbrella to minimise direct exposure to sunlight.

If you want to walk barefoot on your composite decking, you can place outdoor rugs that can weather the elements. These rugs will also add colour and style to your composite decking and comfort beneath your feet, and you can always roll them and store them indoors whenever they are not in use. You can also install a misting fan on your composite decking to help stay cool outdoors.

Material of the Decking

Another factor you need to consider is the material of the composite decking. Composite decking boards get hotter under the sun based on the amount of heat or solar energy they absorb and not reflect. The heat retained by your composite decking partly depends on the material it is made of.

Natural wood decking typically pulls heat deep into the board, making the board’s surface cooler but also retaining the heat longer even when the sun is gone. When tested for several hours under direct sunlight averaging 86 degrees, pine and cedar retained heat between 119 and 157 degrees. Some tropical woods retained heat from 135 to 149 degrees.

Ipe decking boards are made of very dense wood, allowing the material to retain less heat compared to its counterparts. During the test, ipe boards retained heat at 137 degrees and stayed coolest among decking materials.

Composite decking boards, specifically the capped composite decking boards used in the test, retained heat at 135 to 149 degrees, showing a minimal difference in heat retention between wood and composite decking. However, unlike wood that retains heat long after the sun disappears, composite decking boards cool off faster once under the shade.

Colour is Important

Aside from the amount of exposure under direct sunlight and the material of the decking boards, the colour of your composite decking also matters. The general rule is the darker the surface colour of your composite decking, the more heat it absorbs and the hotter it becomes. Composite decking boards with a lighter colour finish tend to retain less heat compared to darker coloured materials. Therefore, if you want composite decking that does not get too hot, choose light-coloured composite decking boards with a hollow core.

The Advantages of Composite Decking

All types of decking material, regardless if it’s natural wood, pressure-treated lumber, ipe, PVC or composite, retain heat when exposed to direct sunlight. There may be a difference in heat retention depending on the material, but this difference is minimal. The benefits of using composite materials for your decking outweigh concerns in heat retention.

To have the best time outdoors, choose light-colored composite decking boards with a hollow core since these are more resistant to extreme temperature and moisture. They closely resemble wood when it comes to heat retention and dissipation whilst offering all the benefits of composite decking.