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PVC vs. Composite Decking

Over the last decade, there have been some impressive innovations in decking materials. Once restricted to pressure-treated wood for their decks, homeowners now have a wide range of options available to choose from including durable and long-lasting PVC decking and capped composite decking.

Though these products may look similar, they each have their own unique qualities and benefits. Here, we examine the benefits of PVC decking vs. capped composite, and why a homeowner can’t really go wrong with either choice.

What’s the Difference?

PVC decking is made from 100% recycled plastic while composite decking, is made from a blend of wood fibers and plastic products.

Both products feature a “cap,” which is an extra, added layer of protection that helps make them more durable and longer-lasting.

PVC Decking: Costs & Benefits

PVC Decking provides a range of benefits and solutions that homeowners have struggled to find for years with previous decking options. Homeowners have long had the desire for a low maintenance decking product, and PVC, with its no-wood composition, certainly answers that need.

Much to the delight of homeowners, capped PVC does not require annual sanding, staining, or sealing. And, no other decking material is available in such a wide array of colors and natural-looking wood grains.

PVC decking also features a crisp and clean aesthetic that you just can’t find with other decking materials. It is also available in a variety of price points that, when combined with its low maintenance needs and longevity, will ultimately make it less impactful on a home’s budget over time.

Composite Decking: Costs & Benefits

Composite decking has also undergone a lot of changes in recent years.  They produce capped composite decking in a multitude of colors, thicknesses, and grain patterns. And, thanks to production innovations, the color on the surface of these boards now runs all the way through instead of just on the surface coating. This means that composite decking is extremely capable of standing up to wear and tear because scratches, dings, and dents won’t show.

Capped composite boards feature a protective non-wood, polymer cap. This provides enhanced scratch, stain, and fade resistant properties. It also offers excellent mold resistance.

One of the things that truly sets capped composite apart from other non-wood decking materials is its ability to closely emulate the look and feel of real wood. Capped composite has all the warmth and character of tropical hardwoods, but with superior performance.

Final Breakdown Comparison

For the homeowner, being able to discern physical differences between capped composite decking and PVC decking might not be easy, but those differences do exist. Here’s a breakdown as to the key differences between these two revolutionary decking materials.

Aesthetics: Capped composite decking has a more wood-like appearance whereas PVC decking, due to its all-plastic construction, has an enhanced wood look.

Durability: Both products score highest among decking products for durability.

Mold and Mildew Resistance: Capped PVC decking has a slight edge over capped composite for its ability to resist mold and mildew.

Stain Resistance: Both products rank highest among decking materials for stain resistance.

Colorfastness: Both products rank highest among decking products for colorfastness.

Splinter-Free: Because PVC is 100% plastic and composite decking only features wood fibers, both products are splinter-free applications.

Heat Dissipation: With enhanced UV protection, capped PVC decking offers slightly better heat dissipation than capped composite.