What is Composite Decking? A Complete Guide

Shane Chapman / Backyard Building Expert

Shane Chapman

Backyard Building Expert

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What is Composite Decking? A Complete Guide


Table of Contents

Introduction to Composite Decking

Composite decking has revolutionized outdoor living spaces with its durability, beauty, and ease of maintenance. At TUDS, we've seen a growing interest in composite deck solutions, which blend functionality with environmental sustainability. This comprehensive guide will explore everything you need to know about composite decking.

Overview of Composite Decking in an outdoor setting, showing a spacious deck with modern composite decking materials, surrounded by a lush garden.

What is Composite Decking?

Composite decking is a synthetic decking material made from a mixture of wood fibers and plastic. It's designed to look like wood but offers superior properties, including resistance to rot, warping, and splintering. This material combines the best of both worlds: the natural appearance of wood and the durability of plastic.

Composition and Manufacturing

The manufacturing process of composite decking involves combining wood fibers with recycled plastics, like polyethylene or PVC. This eco-friendly approach not only repurposes waste but also produces a highly durable and weather-resistant product.

Image depicting the manufacturing process of composite decking, showing machinery blending wood fibers and recycled plastics.

Benefits of Composite Decking

Composite decking offers several advantages over traditional materials:

  1. Durability: Resistant to fading, staining, and scratching.
  2. Low Maintenance: Requires no sanding, staining, or sealing.
  3. Aesthetic Appeal: Available in various colors and textures.
  4. Eco-Friendly: Made from recycled materials.

Comparing Composite Decking with Wood Decking

When compared to traditional wood and plastic (vinyl) decking, composite decking stands out for its balance of appearance and performance. This section includes a comparison chart detailing the differences in durability, maintenance, aesthetic appeal, and cost.

Factor Composite Decking Wood Decking
Material Composition Made from wood fibers and recycled plastics Made from natural wood (e.g., cedar, redwood)
Initial Cost Higher initial cost but cost-effective long-term Lower initial cost but higher long-term expenses
Maintenance Low maintenance; occasional cleaning High maintenance; requires staining, painting, sealing
Durability Highly durable, resistant to rot, warping, and splintering Subject to rot, warping, and splintering over time
Lifespan 25-30 years 10-15 years (can vary with maintenance)
Aesthetic and Variety Wide range of colors and textures; mimics wood appearance Natural wood beauty; limited by wood type
Environmental Impact Eco-friendly, made from recycled materials Depends on wood sourcing; can lead to deforestation
Resale Value Can increase home value due to durability and low maintenance May increase home value but depends on condition over time

Types of Composite Decking

There are two main types of composite decking: capped and uncapped. Capped composite decking has an extra polymer layer for added protection, while uncapped decking offers a more natural look.

Design and Aesthetic Options

Composite decking comes in various colors, textures, and finishes, allowing homeowners to choose a style that best suits their outdoor space. Visit our composite decking selection for a glimpse of the options.

Gallery of composite decking showcasing different design and color options.

Installation Process

The installation of composite decking is straightforward and similar to that of traditional wood decking.

Step-by-step installation of composite decking, showing the process of laying and securing deck boards in an outdoor setting.

Maintenance and Care

One of the biggest advantages of composite decking is its easy maintenance. Regular cleaning with soap and water is usually sufficient to keep it looking new.

Maintaining Composite Decking, showing a person cleaning a composite deck with soap and water in a sunny outdoor setting

Cost Analysis and Value

While the initial cost of composite decking might be higher than traditional wood, it can be more cost-effective in the long run due to its longevity and low maintenance requirements. This section includes a cost-benefit analysis graph.

Sustainability and Environmental Impact

Composite decking contributes to sustainable building practices by utilizing recycled materials. This section explores its environmental benefits and includes insights from external sources like Green Building Council.


Composite decking represents a smart investment in your home’s outdoor space. Offering the perfect blend of beauty, durability, and environmental friendliness, it's an excellent choice for any homeowner.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What Is Composite Decking Made Of?

    • Answer: Composite decking is made from a blend of wood fibers and recycled plastics, such as polyethylene or PVC, creating a durable and environmentally friendly material.
  2. How Long Does Composite Decking Last?

    • Answer: Composite decking typically lasts between 25-30 years, much longer than traditional wood decking, due to its resistance to rot, warping, and splintering.
  3. Is Composite Decking More Expensive Than Wood?

    • Answer: Initially, composite decking can be more expensive than wood. However, due to its low maintenance and longevity, it can be more cost-effective in the long run.
  4. Does Composite Decking Require Maintenance?

    • Answer: While composite decking requires minimal maintenance, regular cleaning with soap and water is recommended to maintain its appearance.
  5. Can Composite Decking Be Painted or Stained?

    • Answer: Composite decking typically does not need to be painted or stained, as it comes in various colors and finishes. However, specific types can be painted if desired.
  6. Is Composite Decking Slippery When Wet?

    • Answer: High-quality composite decking is designed to be slip-resistant, but as with any outdoor surface, caution should be taken in wet conditions.
  7. Can Composite Decking Fade Over Time?

    • Answer: Some fading might occur over time, especially in direct sunlight. However, high-quality composite decking is treated to resist significant fading.
  8. Is Composite Decking Environmentally Friendly?

    • Answer: Yes, composite decking is eco-friendly as it's often made from recycled materials and contributes to less deforestation.
  9. Can You Install Composite Decking Over an Existing Wood Deck?

    • Answer: Composite decking can be installed over an existing wood deck if the deck structure is sound and meets necessary requirements.
  10. How Does Composite Decking Impact Home Value?

    • Answer: Composite decking can increase home value due to its aesthetic appeal, durability, and low maintenance, making it attractive to potential buyers.

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About the Editor...

Shane Chapman // Backyard Building Expert

Shane Chapman, President and Co-Founder of The Ultimate Deck Shop, is a seasoned expert in the deck building industry. A former award winning deck builder (Fresh Decks), he now leads Canada’s top destination for backyard building materials.

Shane is committed to simplifying the shopping experience, providing exceptional customer service, and empowering both DIYers and professionals with his expert advice.

Get in touch with Shane to connect, collaborate or ask questions at LinkedIn.