Are you planning to build a deck? Or perhaps you want to transform your patio? In any case, the first thing you will need to decide is what type of materials to use. Today, three materials for decking stand out, wood, composite decking, and PVC. But the question is, which one is the best?
Comparing Your Options
To decide which is the best for you, you will need to compare wood, composites, and PVC. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages. Some may also be better than the other depending on your situation. Which one should you choose?
Cheap and Beautiful—Wood
The traditional decking material is none other than wood, for good reasons. One advantage of wood is its relatively low cost. There are two types of lumber, softwoods and hardwoods. Softwoods are often cheaper but lower in quality, whereas hardwoods are more costly yet more durable and long-lasting than softwoods. Regardless, wood is generally less expensive than both PVC and composites. Of course, rare exceptions exist, such as Ipe.
Another advantage of wood is its appearance. For many years, homeowners enjoyed the natural and timeless beauty of wooden materials. With wooden decking, you can create beautiful designs for outdoor living spaces.
Unfortunately, wood decking has a lot of disadvantages, especially if you are using lower-quality materials. Wood is susceptible to moisture, which can cause moulds growth, rotting, and warping. Wood is also known for being high-maintenance, requiring regular staining, sealing and painting, which adds upkeep cost. Lastly, only the best quality hardwood decks can last for decades. Wooden decks of average quality will only last around 5 to 10 years.
Another popular decking material is PVC, which stands for polyvinyl chloride. PVC is a material made of pure plastic. As such, problems related to wood use are no longer present. Such issues include mould growth, moisture, and insect damage. Unlike wood, PVC is also low-maintenance, requiring little upkeep to maintain its quality. PVC decking can also last longer than most wooden decks, which have an average lifespan of 15-25 years as long as it is properly maintained.
Unfortunately, PVC has a few problems. PVC and other plastic decks are susceptible to high temperatures. When exposed to hot climates for long periods, PVC decks can warp and bend. Another disadvantage of PVC is its appearance. While PVC decks can be beautiful, they often look synthetic and artificial. They can’t compare to the natural wood decks. Lastly, PVC decks are much more expensive than wooden decks.
Best of Both Worlds—Composites
Composites are materials made by combining plastic and wood fibres. The result is a material that has both the advantages of wood and plastic decking.
Composite decks have similar durability to PVC. It’s resistant to moisture, insects, moulds, rotting, and splintering. Composite decking is also low-maintenance, which requires very little effort and cost to maintain. A well-maintained composite deck can last at least 20 to 30 years, which is longer than most wooden decks.
While similar to PVC, composites are better in a few aspects. For instance, composites are often more resistant to warping due to thermal expansion, owing to the wooden fibres that keep their shape better. But perhaps the biggest difference between PVC and composites is the appearance. While PVC looks synthetic and artificial, composites are natural-looking and wood-like. Some even have unique patterns that mimic grain designs.
As for composites decking disadvantages, there’s a few as well. Like PVC, composite is more expensive than wood. However, many homeowners agree that the added cost is worth it. Another disadvantage that PVC and composites share is that they are not designed to be painted. Many manufacturers do not recommend painting their composites, which can potentially ruin the materials.
Which is The Best?
Wood, composites, and PVC all have their strengths and weaknesses. Wood is an excellent material if you’re after a timeless design. And when it comes to the initial cost, wood decking is the cheapest. However, if you don’t maintain it properly, the upkeep cost can pile up.
PVC boasts excellent durability against moisture. Since it doesn’t have wood, it’s resistant to moulds, rotting, and splintering. Finally, there’s composite decking. It has the same durability as PVC, but with one extra advantage. Composite decks look as beautiful as real wood. If you want both the strength of PVC and the looks of wooden decking, composite decks are your best choice.