You can’t go wrong with an outside area that doubles as a personal sanctuary. However, do you really want your hideaway to be nothing more than a concrete slab with a few chairs, or do you want your outdoor flooring to match the magnificence of your indoor flooring? Composite deck tiles are a great way to get your patio off to a great start.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best composite decking brands, along with a description of what makes each one unique. After that, you can pick the ideal composite deck tiles for your outdoor living area by analyzing industry standards, prices, appearances, and the diversity of colors available. Who wants to decorate their patio?
How to choose the best composite decking for you
Synthetic wood-plastic composite decking was invented in the 1980s as a man-made replacement to traditional timber decking. The liquid is heated, shaped into long tubes, and allowed to cool.
More dense, stronger and heaver in weight and color than wood, it comes in a variety of looks and textures to mimic a variety of woods and finishes. Natural wood is often used to mold composite products in order to give the grain pattern a realistic appearance.
What are the advantages of composite decking?
Compared to wood, composite decking is comparatively low-maintenance because it doesn’t need to be cleaned, sealed, stained, or painted every few years like wood. Composite boards are more resistant to damp, mold, rot, fading, and insect damage than their wood equivalents, making them more durable. Low water absorption makes them an excellent alternative for pools and other damp environments. Bare feet and hands will appreciate the lack of splinters and cracking, although they may also be more slippery due to the material’s composition.
Composite decking has a minimum 15-year lifespan, and some manufacturers even go as far as offering 25-year warranties on their products. It can, however, endure considerably longer once it is in place.
Although the initial investment is higher than with actual wood boards, it is important to consider the lower annual maintenance costs, as they may wind up being more cost effective in the long term. Sweeping it regularly to remove fallen leaves or other debris from between the planks is all that’s required to keep composite decking looking good for a long time. If required, use a brush and soapy water to scrape away grime and grease.
Should I buy capped or uncapped composite decking?
Capped or uncapped composite boards are also viable options. If a board has a plastic coating, it is protected against fading and staining, but it may not appear as authentic. Although uncapped boards are less expensive, they may lose some of their luster if left outside in the sun for an extended period of time. It is possible for boards to have hollow chambers or they can be solid.
How do you install composite decking?
Composite decking can be installed in the same way as wood decking, i.e. by screwing it to a wooden frame. However, some recent designs feature grooves in the side to allow for hidden fasteners to be utilized. In other words, the finished deck surface has no visible screws.
Composite decking installation is generally left to the professionals unless you’re an experienced DIYer or tradesperson. Spending tens of thousands of dollars on decking just to have it not fit properly is a nightmare.
What Is a Composite Decking Board Made Of?
Pigments, UV inhibitors, and borate preservatives are added to a mixture of wood fiber and plastic, which is then heated and extruded. While still heated, the texture can be added before it cools.
Logs that have been ground up in mills or furniture makers and disposed of
Milk bottle and shopping bag polyethylene shreds are used in this recycled plastic.
Composite Decking Prices, Cleaning, & Warranty
What’s the price tag?
Premium goods that closely mimic tropical wood cost up to $7.20 per square foot for the most basic boards.
Do you have a guarantee?
Some warranties can be passed down from one homeowner to the next, although structural integrity is usually covered by a 25-year or restricted lifetime warranty. It’s rare to find a warranty that covers things like fading, scratches, and stains.
How much concern do you have?
It’s cheaper than wood. As a rule, all that is required is some soapy water and a soft bristle brush.
Decking isn’t all.
Using the same composite material, you can create all of the components needed to complete a deck, including fascia boards, railings, balusters, treads, and posts.
Is it hot?
Certainly, but at a far greater temperature than wood can handle. A large majority of composites are compliant with California’s Wildland-Urban Interface Building Code.
Pros & Cons of Composite Decking
Consider the advantages and disadvantages of composites before making a decision.
Reduced upkeep: You won’t have to bleach and stain your wood every two years anymore. You may repay the increased cost of composites in roughly five years with the money you save by not applying these coatings and cleaning products.
There is no decay or termite attraction, no warping or checking and no worry of splinters when walking barefoot on composites.
After the first two or three months of exposure to the sun, all composites fade to a somewhat lighter tint. (Wood will eventually become gray if left unattended.)
Up to 20-foot-long planks mean fewer end joints.
Plastic shopping bags and one-gallon milk jugs are abundant in every 10 square feet of this building, which has a recycled content of approximately 3,000 per square foot.
Low-end composites cost 30 percent more than pressure-treated pine at the outset. For the most expensive composites, ipe (ee-PAY), a tropical hardwood decking, costs around the same.
Damaged by moving furniture, boisterous dogs, and gritty shoes: New composites are easily harmed. Although light scuffs cannot be sanded completely, with time, they become less noticeable.
Food and grease readily stain the wood fibers, making them stain-prone. When wet, hardwood in various mixtures can leave behind brownish tannin stains that are first unsightly but go away with time.
It gets hot under your feet: Like dark hardwoods, composite flooring gets hot when it’s exposed to the sun. More barefoot-friendly boards are lighter in color and have deeper grooves.
Wood-like appearance: Some boards do a better job than others, but a close glance or touch quickly exposes them as not real wood
How Composite Stacks Up vs. Wood
The use of composite decking has both advantages and disadvantages, as we discovered throughout our research.
Aluminum and plastic were also options for non-wood decking, but we found composite to be the greatest option for achieving the look of wood without the need for wood stain. Stain resistance from ketchup, mustard, and other typical household products was outstanding in most composite decking models.
However, in our studies, we found that some models were significantly more susceptible to slipping, flexing, and sagging. As a result, most of the alternatives are more expensive and heavier than pine. Western red cedar, iron wood and redwood were also put through their paces.)
Handel believes composite planks are more difficult to handle because of their added weight.
Even a stain-resistant composite deck will need to be cleaned from time to time to remove the dirt and grime that accumulates on a daily basis. Cleaning instructions from manufacturers might be inconsistent, especially when it comes to pressure washing, so be sure to consult the manufacturer’s website for precise cleaning instructions for your model.
Start with our decking buying guide to get an overview of all the considerations.
The best composite decking from our tests is listed below for CR members, but if you want to skip ahead, you may do so by clicking on the link above. (As an aside, CR is currently testing the third year of three composite decking products: Envision Evergrain, Fiberon Paramount, and Veranda Decking Board. Keep in mind that the decking ratings are based on two years of performance, not three.)
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Right Brand for Your Composite Deck Project
Decide on the style and design of composite decking that’s best for your home before you go out and buy it.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you narrow down your choices.
Color and Style
A wide range of colors can be achieved by using composite wood in its construction. There are some very unusual pieces out there, despite the fact that many brands strive to stick to natural wood colors. Flat or grooved planks provide additional traction.
Before the planks are finished, the molding or machine work used to add a wood grain to most of the planks you find. Because of this, the planks appear more like real wood instead of plastic (though some do a better job than others).
Size of Project
Your project’s size is also important. After comparing rates, you’ll have the greatest idea of how much your project will cost overall if you know how much material you’ll need.
Deck Area Conditions
Another thing to consider is what will be on the ground around the deck once the show is over. Large pine trees can provide shade for your deck, but they also produce pine tar and needles, which can irritate your skin.
Choosing the correct composite decking brand is easier if you have an idea of where it will go and what it will be used for. Some products are easier to clean or more resistant to mold and mildew than others.
There is a rising market for composite decking, unlike wood decking, where the pine planks will always be pine planks. You may not be able to find the exact type or color of your original purchase if you need to replace a piece of your deck in five or ten years.
It is recommended that you acquire a few extra square feet of decking material for future replacement needs when you buy your decking material. By doing this, you can avoid the problem of availability in the future.
Capped or Standard
It’s exactly what it sounds like: standard planks. As these planks come off the production line, they are ready to be shipped. These planks are excellent in every way: robust, beautiful, and ready for installation.
Even within the same brand, warranties for different composite decking types can differ. The industry standard for warranty coverage is roughly ten years, however some warranties extend much beyond this and others fall far short.
Always check the warranty coverage details before making a purchase. Before making a purchase, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the claims process. Depending on the promotion, you may need to show proof of purchase or register your purchase online within a given time range in order to be eligible.
Make sure you understand the claim process and registration requirements before you buy so that you can get everything taken care of in the shortest amount of time possible.
A buyer’s first concern is always going to be the purchase price. A proper installation will necessitate the purchase of tools, equipment, and other supplies that are not included in the cost of the materials. Professional installation with a contractor may even be necessary.
For your convenience, we’ve included a brief section on expert installation below the brand reviews. We can even assist you in locating a local builder.
Why Choose Composite Deck Tiles?
These goods are built to withstand the elements. They’re hardy as nails and can take whatever Mother Nature throws at them.
Composite deck flooring is more durable than real wood since it doesn’t decay.
Maintenance-free: Unlike genuine wood decks, this one doesn’t require as much maintenance in the way of sanding, painting, or sealing.
When it comes to synthetic decking, insects are doomed to failure. Let the insects feast on the wood decks while you enjoy your insect-free composite decking!
Composite decking is more environmentally friendly than traditional lumber since it is made from recycled resources.
The boards and tiles of composite decking are designed to tolerate exposure to direct sunlight without fading or staining. As a result, they are both fade-proof and stain-resistant.
Deck tiles are easy to put together thanks to an interlocking design that works like a jigsaw puzzle.
Composite decking can last twice as long as traditional wood decking since it is more resistant to the elements. Compared to natural decking, this is significantly more cost-effective in the long run.
Advantages of Helios Artificial Grass Deck Tiles
- Simple upkeep: Watering, pruning, and mowing real grass are all time-consuming chores. You don’t have to be concerned about any of that with artificial grass.
- No matter what time of year it may be, real grass is not ideal. In some cases, browning or bare patches must be dealt with. When it comes to artificial turf deck tiles, that’s not the case at all
- Even your pets will enjoy the softness of the grass blades under their paws.
- Pest-free Fake grass does not attract insects and other pests. All those creepy-crawlies have been exterminated.
Disadvantages of Helios Artificial Grass Deck Tiles
- This decking is more expensive up front, but it will save you money in the long run.
- Because synthetic grass is comprised of plastic, it gets hot when exposed to the sun.
Do you know which composite decking option is best for you now that you’ve learned everything there is to know about it? Starting from the ground up, use composite decking to provide the foundation for your backyard paradise!