Non-wood alternative decks are becoming more popular nowadays. Not only does it reduce the need for cutting down trees for materials, but non-wood decking also has more advantages. When it comes to alternative decking, two of the most popular are vinyl and composite decking. But if you are a homeowner who wants a deck, you may have stumbled upon the decision of which one to use. So which should you pick?

Difference Between Vinyl and Composite Decking

decking

Before you make any decision, one of the few things you will need to understand is the difference between the two types of deck. In general, they are quite similar. Some even call them either of them as plastic decking. However, there are a few differences. 

Vinyl decks can refer to two types of decking, one made out of boards and one using sheets of vinyl. Most people will think of the former rather than the latter. Regardless, both vinyl sheets and decking boards are of the same material, which is PVC. PVC, short for polyvinyl chloride, is a thermoplastic used in various applications, including construction. For comparison, however, we’ll consider PVC decking boards, which are often more durable than the sheets. 

Composites, on the other hand, are not pure plastic. Unlike vinyl, it contains both plastic polymers and wood fibres, along with minerals and organic fillers. For composite decking, you can either choose between decking boards and interlocking tiles. 

In terms of design and construction, many people may find composites and vinyl similar. But what about performance? Which one is the better decking choice?

Which is More Durable?

Durability is one of the main priorities when choosing a deck. By this standard, both composites and vinyl decking perform well underwear and tear. They both have superior durability compared to wood. They are resistant to moisture, rotting, and splintering. 

However, there is one advantage of composites that can ultimately affect your decision. Wood warps due to moisture, while thermoplastics do because of high temperatures. It means that both composite and vinyl decks can warp under extreme temperature. However, wood-plastic decks, especially ones with higher wood-to-plastic ratio, are more rigid, thus more dimensionally stable. So when hot weather is a concern, composite decks will less likely warp or bend compared to pure plastic decking. 

Which is Cheaper?

Cost is another crucial deciding factor for many homeowners’ decisions. Naturally, it doesn’t mean that you have to compromise quality over lower prices. Instead, you will want to choose one that gives the most value for your money. 

When it comes to cost, both vinyl and composites are significantly more expensive than wooden decks. However, they are more cost-efficient. They require less maintenance, and don’t need painting, staining, or sealing, which means you don’t have to spend hundreds, if not thousands, on upkeep expenses.

With regard to the price comparison between the two, you’ll find vinyl slightly more expensive. Of course, there are different price ranges and tier qualities that you will have to consider. Checking out reviews and comments from previous buyers can help you decide. 

Which is More Beautiful?

One of the most striking differences between composites and vinyl is the appearance. Vinyl, as a synthetic material, will often look more polished. You can tell that it’s artificial, and it may not necessarily be a bad thing. You can choose from various colours, patterns, and designs. Some are even made to look like wood.

On the other hand, composites are more natural-looking. Unlike vinyl decking, it looks more like real wood. Some even have unique grain patterns and textured surfaces for the extra finesse. While some vinyl imitates wood designs, it won’t compare to what composites can look like.

In the end, it’s a matter of preferences. But if you want a wood-looking deck, there’s no better choice than composites. 

Which One Should You Use for Your Deck?

Both vinyl and composites are excellent non-wood decking choices. They both are more cost-efficient and more durable than traditional wooden decking. While they have quite a few similarities, they do have some differences. 

Composite decking may slightly be cheaper than PVC, and more resistant to high temperatures and warping. In terms of aesthetics, it’s also more natural-looking, akin to real wood. Because of this, it’s slightly better than vinyl.