Low Maintenance Decks
When it comes to synthetic or manmade decking, many people are surprised to hear that within this category, there are three main types. Most larger companies (TREX, Timber Tech & Fiberon) manufacture and distribute all three types.
Composite decking has been available for 20+ years. Generally speaking, composite decking is a 50/50 blend of sawdust and polyethylene. Most of the wood is reclaimed from furniture and cabinet factories, the plastic comes from recycled milk jugs, packaging plastics, etc. Many people refer to composite decking as TREX, though there are close to 100 separate companies making these products. TREX is the original, and most well branded manufacturer of composite decking.
Advantages to composites would include length of time in usage (track record), price point, and availability. Drawbacks would include the susceptibility of the products to fading, scratches, and stains from food sources or pets.
Cellular PVC decking is a full plastic material, generally not containing much recycled content. Most of the plastics are virgin plastics, acquired from various plastic manufacturing sources. We refer to PVC often as "second generation", for many years it was the only alternative to traditional composite decking.
PVC tends to be much lighter than composite, which makes it favorable when remodeling older structures that might not be capable of holding larger loads. It also holds less heat than composite, making it friendly on the feet on a hot summer day. PVC's resist stains extremely well, and though they don't generally offer a fade warranty, they hold their color extremely well.
Capped or "wrapped" composite is a relatively new, but extremely fast growing segment of the market. This would be what we call "third generation" decking. The core of the board is no different than traditional composite, but the board is capped/encased with a high density polyethylene shell. Some manufacturers will wrap the board on three sides, others fully encapsulate the board.
Generally speaking, wrapped composites will come with a "no fade/no stain" warranty. Though no manufacturer gives a scratch warranty, these are about as durable and tough as can be found. Installations of these products has increased dramatically since their inception in 2008, projections indicate that wrapped composites will take the majority of market share in coming years.