In recent years, many homeowners are starting to prefer to use wood-alternatives for decking. Not only does it lessen the demand for cutting new trees for lumber, but non-wood decking also has many advantages over traditional timber decks. One of the popular choices today is PVC another is composite decking. But what is it, and what is it made up of? 

What are the Materials Used for PVC Decking?

PVC decking often refers to decks made out of plastic decking boards. Some people refer to PVC decks as vinyl decking. Many also mistakenly group composite decking with it. Most people collectively call them ‘plastic decking’. However, there are some differences between these types of decking.

So what are the materials used for PVC decks? PVC, short for Polyvinyl chloride and also known as ‘vinyl’, is a thermoplastic. It is one of the mostly-used plastic polymers in the world. Annual production of polyvinyl chloride reaches 40 million. It has many applications, but it’s most known for flooring and decking.

In decking, PVC decking uses co-extruded boards. Most boards have a tough and durable outer layer, which is resistant to many forms of damage. For this reason, many prefer it using traditional wooden materials for its added protection and durability. 

Despite what some might think, PVC decking is becoming a greener alternative than using wood. Most polyvinyl chloride materials today are being reused and recycled. Many PVC decking boards manufacturers are starting to use recycled materials to produce their products. In decking, however, it still is a challenge to recycle used decking boards as not all parts are reusable.

What is Vinyl Decking?

Another type of PVC decking that people may refer to is vinyl decking. Contrary to what most people may know, they are technically different types of decks. While PVC uses boards, vinyl decks are made out of polyvinyl chloride sheets. Regardless, both can be called ‘plastic decking’.

The vinyl sheets for decking are made out of the same materials as its board forms. With that said, it has the same advantage when it comes to weatherproofing and maintenance. The difference is, it’s easier to install, as you don’t need to build a new patio. Instead, you can just set it on most decking surfaces, practically turning it into a plastic deck. It’s also easier to remove and replace. 

Naturally, there are drawbacks of using vinyl decking sheets. While it is as water and weatherproof as its decking board counterparts, it’s not as durable and scratch-resistant. When maintained poorly, the sheets may peel off.  

Advantages of PVC and Vinyl Decking

There are many advantages of using PVC and vinyl for decks compared to the traditional wooden materials. Wood is highly susceptible to moisture, causing it to rot, warp, and develop moulds and mildew. On the other hand, synthetic plastic decks don’t have such problems. 

Another reason many people prefer non-wood decking is it is low-maintenance. Unlike wood, it doesn’t require painting, staining, and sealing. You can potentially save hundreds, if not thousands, from the upkeep cost. Lastly, plastic decks can last longer than wooden decking. A typical wood deck will last anywhere between 5 to 20 years depending on the quality. PVC and vinyl, on the other hand, can last at least 20 years. 

However, there are quite a few advantages of plastic decks. While not necessarily unattractive, most synthetic decks look unnatural. They are also significantly more expensive than traditional wooden materials. 

What is Composite Decking?

Another type of decking that many people refer to as plastic is composites. However, there’s a big difference between it and PVC. Composites, also called WPC or wood-plastic, make use of both wood fibres, such as wood chips and sawdust, and thermoplastics, such as polyvinyl and polyethene. Like other wood alternatives, composite manufacturers also use recycled materials for their products.

In terms of durability, water-resistance, upkeep, and life span, composite decks offer similar advantages to other synthetic decks. It has the same outer polymer capping that protects it from many forms of wear and tear. However, it has one notable advantage. Unlike plastic decks, it features a more natural-looking appearance. It’s more wood-like than any plastic decking. Because of this, many people prefer to use it, especially when designing outdoor spaces.