Comparing Composite Decking with Other Materials

When choosing materials for your home’s outdoor decking, you want something that looks great, is durable, and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. Composite decking has become an increasingly popular choice, offering benefits over traditional wood and other common decking options. 

 

We compare composite decking with timber, PVC and aluminium to help you determine which is best for your home.

 

Composite Decking vs Timber

 

Timber decking certainly has an attractive, natural aesthetic that many homeowners love. The varied grains and wood tones can be quite beautiful, but there are some significant downsides to using real timber that composite decking aims to improve upon:

 

Durability

 

Timber is prone to rotting, splintering and warping over time when exposed to the elements. The material readily absorbs moisture, leading to fungus and structural damage if not properly sealed and treated. In addition, it requires applications of protective stains/sealants to protect it from moisture issues. 

 

Whereas composite decking contains plastic polymers mixed with wood fibres/particles. The plastic content resists absorbing water and makes the material highly resistant to warping, rotting or structural issues, even with years of outdoor exposure.

 

Maintenance

 

Because timber is so prone to moisture damage, it needs periodic sanding, restaining and resealing to maintain its aesthetic looks and prevent deterioration. This maintenance should be done every 1-2 years to protect it. 

 

However, composite decking contains UV inhibitors and colourants to prevent fading. The material just needs an occasional wash with soap and water to keep it looking fresh and vibrant for decades. Composite also requires no restaining or sealing to maintain its appearance and performance.

 

Slip Resistance

 

When timber gets wet, especially smooth planed timbers, it can become very slick and slippery underfoot. This can lead to dangerous falls, especially on steps and sloped decks. Composite decking is often more slip resistant than traditional wood decking due to its textured surface and the materials used. The combination of wood fibres and plastic in composite decking creates a surface that provides better traction, making it less slippery, especially when wet.

 

Composite vs PVC Decking

 

PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is another common low maintenance decking alternative to natural wood. Here’s how it compares to composite decking in detail:

 

Durability

 

PVC decking is highly resistant to moisture absorption and rotting – similar to composite. However, PVC can become more brittle and prone to impact damage over time, resulting in cracks and breaks. It also tends to fade and discolour more quickly in sunlight than quality composites, with composites maintaining their structure and colour better long-term.

 

Aesthetics

 

PVC is only produced in a limited range of solid colours that often look artificial. The appearance is clearly plastic, without the depth and variation of real woodgrain. Quality composite decking much more closely emulates the subtle detail in wood grains and colour change, delivering a richer, more natural wood look.

 

Sustainability

 

Composite decking often incorporates sizable amounts of recycled plastics and reclaimed wood fibres, so it is considered a more environmentally sustainable choice. On the other hand, PVC production results in the emission of hazardous VOC gases and more greenhouse gases. 

 

Composite vs Aluminium

 

Aluminium is sometimes used for decking because of its sleek, contemporary appearance. However, it has some qualities that make it less than ideal for many homeowners:

 

Aesthetics

 

Aluminium has an industrial, utilitarian look and feel. The uniform grey tone lacks the warmth and character of natural wood, whereads composite decking delivers a much closer aesthetic match to real timber, with colours and graining that create depth.

 

Comfort

 

Aluminium can become uncomfortably hot when sitting on it in direct sunlight during summer. In contrast, composite materials, with their wood component, stay much closer to air temperature regardless of sun exposure.

 

Cost

 

Composite decking has a similar installed cost to high quality timber when you factor in ongoing maintenance savings. However, aluminium is typically a far more expensive option – sometimes 2-3 times more costly than other deck materials.

 

Ecoscape UK: Quality Composite Decking 

 

After comparing composite decking closely to the most common alternative deck materials, the composite option provides clear advantages for most residential settings.

 

At Ecoscape UK, we offer a premium range of composite decking made from recycled wood and plastic. With a high content of recycled materials, our boards provide an eco-friendly and sustainable choice. 

 

What’s more, with natural-looking colours and convincing wood grain finishes, our composite decking beautifully emulates the visual appeal of real wood, but with outstanding durability and low maintenance. 

 

Our decking experts are happy to advise the ideal options for your garden decking project. Get in touch today or browse our composite decking products to learn more!

Gary is the founder and CEO of Ecoscape UK. Gary graduated from Liverpool JM University in 2007 with a 2:1 in Economics. A passion for innovation, design and sustainability, Gary has put to market numerous wpc products/systems, some of which have UK and European registered designs. Outside of work Gary enjoys spending time with his family, the great outdoors and watching Manchester United.