Are All Composite Decking Materials the Same? How Do I Choose?

img_0979In case you haven’t heard, composite decking is all the rage. But you’re a discerning homeowner, and you’re interested in smart investments. Is this just another passing trend, or is this one here to stay? To find the answer, first take an objective look at the actual benefits of composite decking as opposed to traditional, natural materials.

Special lumber like Redwood and Cedar has historically been used to built attractive, long-lasting decks. These trees have natural insect-resistant properties, and they also hold up well in bad weather.

Then came pressure treated lumber, which allowed a vast array of cheaper, more abundant woods to be strengthened for durability and lifespan.

But composite, being a blend of natural fibers and plastics, is simply more impervious to the environment than any natural material. With a traditional deck, you’ll be luck to go 10 years without the need for serious maintenance and/or a complete teardown. Composite decks can realistically double that lifespan.

There’s also the question of upkeep. Decks made of natural wood need regular cleaning, staining and refinishing. Composite decks allow you to forget most of this and focus on periodic cleaning. There are various cleaning methods discussed by composite decking manufacturers, the most common being warm water, soap, and a gentle brush. There are also certain chemicals you definitely should not use on a composite deck. The important thing is to heed the manufacturer’s instructions.

How are Composite Decking Materials Different?

When you begin to research your options for composite decking, you’ll notice there are many different types. Some of the popular manufacturers are:

  • Trex
  • Fiberon
  • MoistureShield
  • Evergrain
  • TAMCO
  • TimberTech

Most of these (and other) brand names offer multiple varieties of composite decking. For example, Trex offers three varieties: Transcend, Enhance and Select. Transcend has more detailed and realistic grain patterns and comes in the greatest variety of colors. This is the “top tier” product from Trex. Enhance is the “middle of the road” offering, and Select is the most basic. Each of these products also comes in different thicknesses and shapes, in order to meet different design needs.

Fiberon offers even more variety, with eleven different types of composite decking (although the differences between the different types is less noticeable). As a homeowner, you have no shortage of choice when it comes to composite decking materials.

In terms of composition, all brands of composite decking are a combination of natural and synthetic materials. They may be blended or used in different ways: For example, some types of composite decking feature a synthetic “casing” with a composite core. Other varieties are over 90% plastic, with sawdust and wood fibers blended in for structure purposes.

Which Type Should I Choose?

Online reviews and consumer reports go a long way when it comes to choosing a brand and type of composite decking—but in the end, there’s no substitute for a professional opinion. If you can find a reputable deck builder who is willing to give you objective advice on what type of composite decking might work best for your property and budget, you’ll have a distinct advantage over someone who is simply picking their composite decking out of a hat and hoping for the best.

Either way, composite decking has a lot of promise—and if you choose the brand and type of material that’s really right for your project, you won’t be disappointed.

Client Testimonials

J.Widener from Newton, NJ

“Outstanding team. Very impressed with the whole process and the most with my new beautiful deck!”

S.Long from Franklin Township, NJ

“The deck looks FANTASTIC. I still can’t believe that Deck Guardian was able to resurface my old, ugly deck. Our neighbors have stopped by to comment on how great the deck looks. The attention to detail, work ethic and professionalism set this company apart. I highly recommend Deck Guardian!”

M.Lewis from Fleminton, NJ

“We have received numerous compliments from Neighbor’s and friend’s who think that the finished project looks terrific. Not only do I appreciate the “quality job”, but I really appreciate the professional manner Skip handled all the details!”

L.Cohen from West Orange, NJ

“When I came home yesterday, I could not believe how amazing my newly resurfaced deck looked. Crew did an amazing job. It was also a pleasure to work with your salesperson, very professional and knowledgeable!”

S.Smith from Chester Township, NJ

“I’m completely impressed. I have dealt with my share of contractors as I have been updating my home for several years. Deck Guardian gets the gold medal. Deck Guardian restored my 10 year old deck & fence to a brand new condition. I am amazed!”

P.Tang from Westfield, NJ

“Deck Guardian Team did a good and pleasant job to give us a professional service and a beautiful new deck, without replacing it. We love the color and the way it feels like. Highly recommended!”

Kathryn Barchi from Piscataway, NJ

“My husband and I had recently moved into a new home and quite quickly we learned of so many things that both us and the home inspector missed prior to the purchase; the deck being one huge item. We quite desperately wanted to use our deck and know that it was safe for us, our kids, our pups, and our guests, which in the original state, was definitely not the case. Deck Guardian to the rescue! The Deck Guardian team, from the free estimate to the point of project close, were quite wonderful to work with entirely. They even pointed out additional things we had missed with regards to the safety of our deck. Of course, best of all, the Deck Guardian team was able to work within our budget, while giving us back our deck with a new lease on life. Deck Guardian far exceeded our expectations and for that, my husband and I can not thank them enough!!!”

Jessica Ravitz from Skillman, NJ

“Deck Guardian completed an amazing deck replacement project for us in less than 2 weeks after we signed our contract. Not only did they provide an extremely competitive price, we got a beautiful deck that so greatly exceeded our expectations! Everyone at Deck Guardian is wonderful – from the estimator, the crew and the administrative staff – very friendly, professional, meticulous and hard working. We are so pleased and give the highest recommendation!!! Thank you Deck Guardian!”

Paul Cichello from Bridgewater, NJ

“I contacted Deck Guardian and was given an estimate the very next day. The representative was very knowledgeable and fair. The workers were polite and professional. We are satisfied with our new deck and would recommend Deck Guardian to anyone who wants quality work.”