Molded from a compressed and heated mixture of wood fibers and plastic resins, wood composites are the closest of the synthetics to real wood. The manufacturing process results in a surface that mimics the grain of real wood, and the boards can be cut with a circular saw equipped with a large-toothed blade. Installation of some composites is also wood-like -- with screws predrilled into the decking. Others are girder-shape and employ blind screws and a tongue-and-groove system for fastening.
Most composites are environmentally friendly, and many products are made from recycled materials. Some manufacturers even go as far as to introduce chips of aromatic cedar into the decking so it smells like real wood.
If the sun will beat on the deck, choose a brand that has proved colorfast. Many types fade dramatically over the years. Some but not all can be stained when they fade.Vinyls
Made from recycled plastics or from the same polyvinyl chloride (PVC) as drainpipes, vinyl decking is lightweight, strong, and weatherproof. For wood lovers, however, its appearance may leave something to be desired. Currently this kind of decking comes in only three colors: white, tan, and gray. The plastic surface is etched to provide some slip resistance.
On the other hand, vinyl decking can be ordered to size in kits that come complete with fastening hardware, making installation easy.
Blind screws covered with sliding covers or T-clips are the recommended fastening technique. PVC's primary drawback is that it is more prone than other synthetics to expansion and contraction in temperature extremes.Fiberglass-reinforced decking
This is decking that is virtually indestructible and could well last you a lifetime. It's stronger than wood, fade resistant, and unaffected by harsh sunlight or extreme cold. Like other products, you can order your deck to size (in even multiples of the stock lengths and widths of the material), but if necessary, you can also cut it witha circular saw fitted with a masonry blade. Retaining clips hold the decking in place; individual pieces snap on the clips.General considerations
Synthetic decking comes in a variety of forms and thicknesses. Most common are 5/4 decking and 1-1/2-inch extruded girders. Manufacturers have designed their products to comply with most building codes, but some localities may not allow synthetic materials. Always check with your local building code officials before placing an order for synthetic decking.
- Deck Planning & Design
- Deck Design Picture Gallery
- Deck Plans: Drawing Plans for Your Project
- Deck Building: Basic Skills & How Tos
- Building a Freestanding Deck
- Building a Deck On a Sloped Site
- Building a Multi Level Deck
- Custom Touches for Your Deck
- Deck Repair & Maintenance
- Deck Finishes: Sealers, Stains & Paint
- Deck Building Skills