Fortress Blog

Friday, August 6, 2021

Deck Material Roundup: Which Board Should You Choose?

Of all the components that make up a complete deck system, few are deliberated on as much as deck boards. They set the visual tone for outdoor living spaces, provide a non-slip and cool surface for bare feet during summer months, and ultimately set the schedule for routine upkeep. But with all the deck material options available today, it only makes sense that DIYers and homeowners can feel overwhelmed when it comes time to choose the right surface board.

If you’re like many of today’s homeowners and have been thinking, “what kind of deck boards should I use?” or “what is the best material to use for a deck?” you’ve come to the right place. Take a closer look at the advantages of the three most popular decking materials – wood, composite and PVC – below.

Wood

A time-honored choice for decking surfaces, lumber was once the only type of decking material available. While there’s no denying this familiar material offers a sought-after aesthetic, the sun and rain’s weathering effects can be relentless and progressive on wood deck boards. Sanding, sealing and staining are typically recommended every 2-5 years, and in some locations, wood decks can begin to show signs of deterioration after 10 years, driving up maintenance and repair costs. Weather can wreak havoc on wood decks in more ways than one – wood can get hot under the summer sun (ouch!) and become dangerously slippery when wet. While tropical hardwoods like Cumaru, Ipe and Tigerwood are now more readily available and offer improved durability over their domestic counterparts, they come at a high price point.

PVC

Once considered too plasticky in appearance, today’s high-end PVC deck materials now look as good as they are long-lasting. Thanks to impressive advances in manufacturing, many of today’s competitive offerings undergo proprietary extrusion processes and embossing techniques to replicate the warmth and beauty of natural wood. As a plus, when compared to other decking alternatives, PVC decking performs best-in-class for both UV protection and slip resistance. While the level of slip-resistance varies by brand, most PVC deck boards utilize an acrylic resin cap with a slightly “grabby” surface to provide enhanced levels of friction. With this level of innovation, PVC deck boards are well-suited for any sort of application where moisture is present – including swimming pools and backyards in coastal climates. Resin caps also provide increased protection from UV rays, meaning boards won’t fade or weather in locations where year-round sunshine is the norm.

Composite

Another deck material with growing name recognition is composite decking. This engineered product is typically comprised of a mix of wood or bamboo fibers and recycled plastics that are bonded together during the manufacturing process. This process helps prevent boards from splintering, cracking or warping, and is also designed to help composites resist the weathering effects brought on by moisture and UV rays. Today, many composite deck boards have an added layer of protection from the effects of weathering, and newer manufacturing processes like dual-embossing reveal much more realistic grain patterns and textures than one might remember from the past.

Still not sure what is the best material to use for a deck? Take a look at our easy comparison chart below.

Learn more about Fortress® capped bamboo-plastic composite Infinity® I‑Series decking and Fortress® Apex® PVC decking by heading over to fortressbp.com/decking. Complete your deck with a Fortress® railing system that can be wholly customized to achieve any look.

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