What is Better PVC or Composite Decking?

Henry A
Learn Decking
decking types

What’s the Difference Between Composites and PVC

Two of the most popular decking materials are PVC and Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) from Ultra Decking. While they share similarities, PVC decking is different from composite decking. If you are planning to build decking in your garden, you may have wondered which is better, PVC or composite decking. What are their differences? Which one should you choose? To help you decide, we will also list their advantages and disadvantages.

PVC and composites are similar but entirely different. Composites also known as wood-plastic composites, are materials made from mixing recycled wood and plastic fibres.

The recycled plastics come from waste shampoo & detergent bottles including plastic bags and buckets. What quality and how much plastic or wood depends on the brand of choice. Many composite manufacturers use lower-quality recycled plastics and wood fibres to reduce production and manufacturing costs. This is the key reason superior quality composite decking boards are more expensive than others.

Like composites, PVC materials are also synthetic and contain plastics. The difference with PVC is they are 100% plastic. There are no other materials mixed with PVC which first entered the decking market in 2005. It is still one of the top choices for decking, along with wood and composites.

Composites Vs. PVC Decking

To summarise, both composites and PVC materials are synthetic and contain plastic. That is where the similarities end.

Aesthetics and Appearance

What is Better PVC or Composite Decking?

Both PVC and composites during the last decade have come far in their appearance and aesthetics. Both materials feature a wood-like appearance, however, composite decking does have a clear advantage over PVC plastic decking. Composite decking contains wood fibres and the recent improvements in production techniques and machine technology gives composites a more natural appearance giving composites a clear edge over PVC decking in both appearance and aesthetics. If you are planning to build a new decking area and a natural wood-like appearance is important to you, then you should seriously consider purchasing composite decking.

Safety

Safety is another consideration when choosing to build an outdoor decking area. One of the fundamental issues with wood and other types of decking is slipping. For this, composite decking is better than PVC decking and wood, especially when wet. Many brands of composite decking boards feature a wood-like grain. A wood grain feature not only adds to the appearance but also adds to its safety.

The wood grains on certain brands of composites produce friction, thereby reducing smoothness. Composites are better if you are building a decking area where you cannot avoid getting the area wet. If you are planning to build a decking area near a water feature like a swimming pool or a fountain, go for composite decking.

Shrinkage and Expansion

All materials expand and contract when exposed to temperature or humidity, including PVC and composites. However, in this regard, composites are better. The boards are more rigid because of the wooden fibres embedded in the composites, therefore are less likely to shrink and expand under extreme temperatures. On the other hand, PVC has nothing to stop the movement and over time these movements can make PVC decking less stable. The expansion and contraction with PVC can even push out all the nails and screws, which can be dangerous.

Environment-Friendly

When it comes to choosing a decking area, some people will consider how environmentally friendly it is. In this regard, both PVC and composites are becoming more environmentally friendly. Manufacturers are striving to use recycled materials.

Another thing to consider is recyclability. For this, PVC is better than composites. Why? Because composites are a mixture of wood and plastic. Because of this, it is impossible to separate these materials, making them hard to recycle. On the other hand, PVC is all-plastic, making it easy to reuse and recycle.

Lightweight

Composites are heavier than PVC. Because of this, many people seem to have some difficulty working with them, especially when working alone. You will also need to make a stronger frame to support a heavier decking. It means that you will need more materials for the frame and place the joist centres closer together. However, some manufacturers offer hollow composites, which are significantly lighter. Otherwise, PVC is the lighter material among the two.

There are other differences between PVC and composites. Make sure to check what you need and what you want when selecting materials. If you want decking that offers the beauty and appearance of wood that is safe and stable, choose composite decking.

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