For the past decade or so, composite decking has been the big name in low-maintenance decking materials. Its innovative combination of recycled plastic and wood fibers gave consumers the best of both worlds: the beauty and strength of wood, with the durability and weather-resistance of plastic. When composite decking came along in the 1990s, it revolutionized the industry.
Now the world of decking materials has been revolutionized again – this time with the development of PVC decking. PVC decking dispenses with the wood fibers entirely, creating a surface that has none of the natural vulnerabilities of wood.
What Is PVC Decking?
PVC decking, also known as cellular decking materials, are made from polyvinyl chloride. Manufacturers use an extrusion process that results in a material that’s lighter and less dense than previous types of PVC, with many of the working characteristics of wood. As a result, it’s easier to handle and install as well as to maintain.
As this engineering process has been refined and developed, this new generation of PVC decks has become increasingly strong and attractive, solving many of the problems associated with wood and composite decking.
Benefits of PVC Decks
When creating a comfortable outdoor living space that doesn’t require a lot of time to maintain, many homeowners are drawn to the advantages of PVC decks – particularly in rainy locations such as the Pacific Northwest, where rot and mold pose constant challenges. These advantages include:
Wood-like appearance. The biggest complaint about previous generations of synthetic decking materials has been their inability to mimic the natural beauty of wood. Consumers complained that the decks looked and felt too “plastic.” These days, however, manufacturers such as Endeck are able to create PVC decking that has an embossed wood grain on both sides of the boards, creating both the look and feel of a wood deck. Some brands, such as Azek even use a flax fiber within the boards to reduce the PVC’s shininess, giving it a more natural appearance.
Exceptional durability. PVC decks are made to withstand any condition experienced within the owner’s lifetime. Because it is made from inorganic material, a PVC deck will not give in to cracking, splintering, warping, mildew, mold or rot. A hard outer layer, or capstock shell, is designed to protect the deck boards on all four sides to against damage and stains caused by normal deck use.
Minimal maintenance. This protective outer layer also lends itself to easy cleaning. Homeowners can simply run a hose over the deck to clean off spills, mold and surface dirt, while dirt, grease and tougher messes can be removed by using simple household cleaners and a soft cloth – no environmentally harmful cleaning products needed. With PVC decking, there is no need for scraping, sanding, staining or replacing cracked or twisted boards.
Improved safety. Another common complaint about past synthetic decking materials was that they became slick when wet, creating a slip hazard. However, the deep wood-grain texture on PVC deck brands such as Endeck creates a much safer, non-slip surface. PVC decking also features much higher fire resistance than wood or composite decking; Endeck, for example, has earned the highest rating possible from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, one of the most stringent fire resistance certifiers in the world.
Variety of colors. As PVC decking has caught on with consumers, manufacturers have increased the spectrum of colors available to match any home and blend in with any outdoor environment.
With so many long-term advantages, it’s no wonder PVC decking has become newest answer to consumers’ demand for long-lasting, low-maintenance decking materials.