Decking made from alternative materials such as composite lumber and PVC has been a large part of the deck building market for many decades, with composites being constantly improved to a point where composite are well worth considering for any deck building project.
In addition to the various styles and colors available, composite decking offers warranties in some cases going beyond even twenty-to-thirty years, or even for the life of your home. Although the cost of composite decking materials typically cost more upfront than your standard PT lumber, a warranty that gives you carefree ownership for as long as you live in your home will often make a lot of sense in the long run, even when the initial investment may be a little higher.
Composite decking often utilizes post-consumer waste in the manufacturing process, utilizing a blend of recycled materials and wood-pulp fibers. The plastic material used is what makes composites both rot and insect resistant without harsh chemicals and treatments often required to make wood products equally rot and insect resistant.
When composites were first introduced to the professional and DIY building market, the options were limited and, frankly, not very appealing. And without a proven track record outside of the manufacturer’s promises, there was no way to know, first-hand, of how long composites could actually last without taking the company’s word for it.
But after many decades in the marketplace, many composite decking materials have proven to be long-lasting and, in many cases, better alternatives to wood decking.
Some of the pros of using composite decking include the ease of which they can be installed. Cutting and drilling is often easier, and many now come with their own installation and fastening kits to simplify installation even further. Plus, there is rarely (if ever) any finishing, sanding, or staining required.
Composite decking is undoubtedly a low-maintenance option.
Popular composite decking manufacturers
As one of the leaders and original manufacturers in composite deck and building materials, Trex® was actually formed as a company through the buyout of a division within the Mobil Corporation back in 1996.
According to their website, they were the first company to use recycled plastics, such as bags, combined with scrap wood. TREX® created the first generation of composite decking. Today, TREX® decking is made with ninety-five percent recycled materials. (And they claim on their website that since they started the company, they have not cut down a single tree.)
In 2010 TREX® released their TRANSCEND® line of composite building materials with a twenty-five year guarantee against both fading and staining. And since 2010, TREX® has released numerous lines of building options, including materials for railings, pergola construction, outdoor lighting, and even recently introduced steel framing that will never rot, sag, or warp like wood.
TimberTech® (An AZEK® company) https://www.timbertech.com/
Timbertech® is AZEK’s® composite decking line of composite building materials and, like TREX, one of the original manufacturers of composite decking.
TimberTech® deck boards are manufactured to mimic the natural color, grain, and shape of real wood using environmentally-friendly engineering.
By capping the composite decking with polymer material, these protective caps wrap around the composite material to not only allow an exceptional wood-look, but provides thorough protection from mold, mildew, and moisture to avoid damage that occurs with real wood.
According to the TimberTech® website, their decking products utilize a range of 54-80% recycled materials (depending on the specific product line). They claim to have diverted roughly 290 million pounds of waste and scrap from ending up in landfills in 2019.
CALI Bamboo BamDeck® https://www.calibamboo.com/composite-decking.html
Cali Bamboo™ is a direct-to-consumer flooring and decking company that manufactures two different decking products.
BamDeck® is their original decking product made of 60% recycled bamboo fibers and 40% recycled High-density polyethylene plastic.
And because bamboo is an extremely durable building material, it’s the bamboo fibers used in the composite that provides the strength and density to make BamDeck decking stronger.
According to the Cali Bamboo™ website, third-party tests in accordance with ASTM (formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials) regulations have found BamDeck® to be at least 3.6 times as strong as other composites made from plastic deck material.
BamDeck 4G® (their latest line as of 2020) is manufactured to have a more modern, matte finish and comes in both wide & standard widths.
TruOrganics® Composite Decking
TruOrganics® Composite Decking is manufactured with rich colors and authentic hardwood texturing. What the company describes as a “next generation composition and 3G core” that is strong and resilient. The composite is wrapped on all four sides (many composites leave the bottom exposed) with distinct rays and knots while guarding against stains, scratches, snow, and sun damage.
The composite decking is geared toward the DIY homeowner, with a simple-to-install, secure fastener system hidden underneath the decking during installation.
TruOrganics® is made of one-hundred-percent recycled materials (60% recycled wood fibers, and 40% high density plastics).
There are dozens of other composite and non-wood decking manufacturers out there, and it’s worth exploring your options when deciding what materials to use to build your deck. You should consider the costs, durability, style, and colors available in addition to the installation, sustainability, and available warranty when considering all of your options.