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Types of Synthetic Decking

Types of Synthetic Decking
Posted on January 2, 2011 by thedeckpro

Synthetic decking has come a long way in the past 10 years. The newest offerings rival real wood in appearance but have none of the headaches that come along with a wood deck. The best new deck materials require a simple cleaning with a hose and gentle cleaner a few times a year. No sanding, staining or painting necessary!

There are three basic types of synthetic decking (there are a few more, but the three I’ll cover here are the most popular by far). Below is a primer on the types of synthetic decking materials:

#1 Composite Decking. Composite decking is made up of a mixture of sawdust, plastic and a binder to hold them together. Composites were the first to hit the decking market. These days, they are the least expensive of the bunch. But saving a few dollars will eventually lead to more problems! Composite decking material will stain and scratch much more easily than the other two types of synthetic materials.

The mixtures and contents of composite decking vary widely by manufacturer. Studies have shown that the wood component of composites tend to deteriorate over time. This can leave a deck surface that looks pockmarked. It also weakens the structure of the decking. For these reasons, I usually don’t recommend composite decking to my clients. Some popular brands of composite decking are Trex Accents, Trex Contours, TimberTech Reliaboard, TimberTech Twin Finish and Evergrain.

#2 Capstock Decking
. Capstock is the newest player in the market. It consists of a composite inside with a thin shell of plastic on the outside. The outer shell negates the problems I listed pertaining to composite decking. Capstock decking is very stain resistant and much harder to scratch than regular composite decking.


Another advantage to capstock decking is cost. It is less expensive than its rival, PVC decking. A few of the popular capstock deckings are Fiberon Horizons, Trex Trancend, TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions. These are all great products that I would install without reservation.

#3 PVC Decking. PVC decking is solid plastic all the way through. The better PVC’s have an embossed surface that rivals wood in appearance. They are very stain, scratch and mold resistant and require little maintenance other than a simple hosing off once in a while.


A few of the better PVC decking products are Azek, TimberTech XLM and Trex Escapes.


All of the decking types listed above can be fastened with either screws through the top (the traditional way) or a hidden fastening system. The new hidden fastening systems leave you with a beautiful deck surface with no screw holes – very much like an interior hardwood floor!