PVC Deck Boards or Capped Composite?

Here’s a very common question I saw on a construction forum I frequent. This was asked by an electrical contractor with no experience with decking, so he’s probably a lot like you.

I am having a deck built in January (Design, deposit, etc is already done). Right now I am slated to have Timbertech XLM Sandridge (color chosen due to some performance issues with the darker colors) decking and White Radiance Rail. From what I have read here, I went with a Timbertech Premier contractor. I just got a call from the deck contractor today about the new Timbertech Earthwood products. He wanted to let me know about it in case I wanted to change from Timbertech XLM Sandridge decking. It sounded like he thought the new Earthwood Evolutions was a better product. He mentioned that it withstood the manufacturer’s tests of scratching, fading, and spills better than all of the other lines. What are your thoughts?

– electronics4lif

As of this writing, there are three major manufacturers producing “mainstream” capped composite deck boards:

  • Fiberon Horizons (Fiberon was the first to market with this technology)
  • Trex Transcends
  • TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions

A capped composite board is a two-part deckboard with a traditional composite (wood flour and plastic mixed together) core and a very thin veneer (usually about 1/16″ thick) of PVC-like material wrapped over the core that is the surface you see when you look at the deck. Manufacturers are using this technology to produce less expensive, better performing deck boards, however their methods are all slightly different. Prior to the capped composite boards coming to market, you were either going to get a true composite board or a 100% PVC board.  Traditionally, composite was less expensive but always has performance issues, while PVC was more expensive, but had some color limitations due to PVC blending technologies. Here’s a video where I explain the different types of synthetic deck boards.

Fiberon was the first company to get capped composite off the ground and into the market with any gusto. Horizons has been proving itself as a solid, reliable board for a few years now and it has been embraced by many top deck contractors I know around the country. Fiberon fully encapsulates or wraps the board with capstock which is important. The less water that gets into the wood particles under the capstock, the better for long term performance. Unfortunately, the cap is compromised when Fiberon cuts the groove into the board. It’s not a deal breaker, but it would be nice to see the capstock seal as much of the board as possible.

Trex saw the success of Fiberon’s Horizon line and introduced Transcends to the marketplace as their capstock product. While Transcends has a very nice deep grain in the cap, there are some things about Transcends that worries me as a deck builder. The cap does not encapsulate the entire board leaving the entire underside exposed to moisture. Also, the cap does not seem to be laminated as well as other manufacturers are doing it. In fact, I have seen boards come right off the truck with the capstock delaminating and peeling off. Trex has been successful marketing Transcends, but as we’ve seen before with Trex’s products, they have had major quality control issues that have spawned serious warranty issues for thousands of homeowners. While I know one or two reputable deck builders that swear by Transcends, I know 20 or more that won’t touch the stuff.

TimberTech, as usual, waited in the wings to see if the capstock concept was going to take off before investing in it. In 2011, TimberTech replaced their hugely successful Earthwoods line of composite decking with a capped composite called Earthwoods Evolutions. Evolutions is a fully encapsulated board whether it’s a square-edged board or a grooved board which I like. They also nailed the aesthetic producing boards that are pleasing to the eye. The board is too new to make a judgement of performance on, but based on TimberTech’s history with rolling out new products and the testing they do, I feel good about Earthwood Evolutions.

So, which is better? PVC deck products like TimberTech XLM, Azek Deck, Fiberon Professional or the capstock brethren I detailed above?

The answer is: It depends.

I’ve installed miles and miles of PVC decking over the last few years because if I had to choose between a true composite (watch my video) and PVC, PVC wins every time because it out performed composite in every category even though it was more expensive. Now that capped composites are proving themselves, it really boils down to aesthetics and cost. PVC still has the edge in terms of aesthetics over capped composites, but capped composites are slightly less expensive and may have even better cap technology than some of the original PVC capped products.

What? Capped composites “may have even better cap technology”? Did he just say that? Yes…I did.

All deck products evolve just like computer technology so new product lines are usually always better (at least historically) than the ones they replaced. For instance, the cap technology in some of TimberTech’s earlier XLM lines has remained unchanged for at least three years now. I’m pretty sure the chemical technology in the cap of Earthwoods Evolutions is more advanced because it’s newer. Every manufacturer learns from each generation of decking they produce and build on it. They learn what works and what doesn’t.

This is not to say PVC is obsolete, because it’s not. Capstock technology has virtually assured the disappearance of plain old composite decking by providing a nice aesthetic with much, much, much better long term performance.

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About Greg DiBernardo
Greg DiBernardo is the owner of Peachtree Decks and Porches in Alpharetta, GA and specializes in custom deck building, porch construction and complete backyard renovations. His expertise has been recognized by key manufacturers in the deck industry who call on him to develop, refine and evaluate new deck related products. He's a regular contributor to Professional Deck Builder, The Journal of Light Construction, and Tools of the Trade magazines. Greg has also been featured on television, most notably on the DIY Network.

215 Responses to PVC Deck Boards or Capped Composite?

  1. Francois says:

    Bonjour M. DiBernardo,

    I’m thinking of building a deck. My choice was on cap PVC and then realized that full PVC was better after reading all the trouble of other owners on news groups.

    Now my choice is simple, full PVC. (1x6x20 or 2x6x20…not sure if I need 2″ for PVC planks.)

    But still, with all the company doing full PVC plank, which one the best?
    It’s hard to get the right information about how is the PVC made from each company.

    My requirement are the following:

    –Doesn’t absord heat too much, meaning I can walk on it during hot summer time.
    –Doesn’t fell like I’m bouncing when walking on the deck.
    –It won’t make horrible noise due to expension.
    –Can leave the 6 foot of snow on it since I’m not using my deck during winter time.
    –Need to have small gap between each planks….so the snow can melt away. :)
    –Of course, the usual, the color doesn’t fade, PVC won’t split, splinter, rot or mold.

    Knowing this, which full PVC maker do you recommand.

    (I guess you have received 1000 time this same question, but if you have time to answer, I would appreciate.)

    Best regards,
    François.

    • Francois,

      Where are you located?

      Based on your requirements, you may be happier with a capstock composite board like Fiberon Horizons, TimberTech Earthwoods Evolutions or Trex Transcends.

      Greg

    • Hi Francois,

      Any of the capstock composite boards would address your concerns better than any of the PVC boards. PVC boards do fade, they can be bouncy on anything more than 12″ centers, and it does creak due to expansion.

      My professional opinion at this point (early 2012) is that capstock composites now outperform PVC in nearly every respect.

  2. Jim says:

    I am looking at having the surface of my deck replaced with a composite type material. My contractor is suggesting a product carried by Home Depot called “Veranda ArmorGuard”. It is a capped composite material, Are you familiar with it? What is your opinion? How does it compare to TimberTech? I live in Central NJ.

    • Hi Jim,

      Any “Veranda” branded deck product is a crapshoot at best. Home Depot contracts decking manufacturers to produce lower quality boards to be sold at commensurately lower prices with lesser warranties, etc..What your Home Depot calls one thing might be a completely different board with the same name at the Home Depot down the road. Your contractor probably does not have a lot of decking experience if they are sending you to Home Depot. I would be extremely careful taking advice from them based on this fact.

      I would strongly advise you to select a deck board from a local professional lumber yard. TimberTech, Fiberon, Trex, and Azek are all quality products. Whatever brand you select, you’ll most likely want to pick a CAPSTOCK COMPOSITE like TimberTech Earthwoods Evolutions, Fiberon Horizons or Trex Transcends.

    • lisa s. says:

      i am a homeowner like yourself looking for decking. just to let you know i did a home test with a veranda armorguard sample ,,, smearing it (as well as a sample of trex transcend firepit) with cooking grease. when i washed the samples the following day the veranda was indelibly stained whereas the trex showed to evidence of any change whatsoever,

  3. Leighton says:

    Hi Greg,

    Thanks, first of all, for having this forum and outlet for deck enthusiasts like us to learn from your expertise. It’s extremely valuable in researching the different decking materials.

    I’m in Manitoba, Canada. We get temps from +30 to -40 Celsius at the extremes. The 2 main things my wife and I were researching were Cumaru Hardwood decking, and Rhino Deck Armidillo capped product, sold through Windsor Plywood. Armidillo is a fully capped product, and looks better than Fiberon or Trex (in my opinion), but costs less. Do you have any experience installing these products, and do you have an opinion on installing these in my climate.

    Thanks for your help.

    Leighton

    • Hi Leighton,

      Unfortunately, I have no first hand experience with Rhino Deck products. In fact, I have never even seen it in person so my input may be less valuable.

      I can tell you that Fiberon and Trex are very established deck companies that spend a lot of money on R&D. Suffice to say, I am confident installing either product nearly anywhere and am hesitant to install products from smaller companies because I’ve seen too many new brands come and go leaving the homeowner with a worthless warranty. This is something significant to take into consideration. Anyone can claim to have a long warranty term on paper, but if the company folds, you are in trouble!

      With hardwood, there is absolutely NO warranty whatsoever unless you have a connection to God himself.

      Temperature swings are common in all parts of the world. Proper installation in terms of gapping and spacing is crucial in your case. Any capstock composite is going to expand and contract along it’s length, while woods swell along the width based on humidity-not temperature. Paying careful attention to your gapping should eliminate expansion issues down the road.

      Good luck!

  4. Chris says:

    I am also considering resurfacing my 20 yr old wood deck. What is your opinion of Fiberon Pro-Tect? It is apparently a capped composite, right? How does it compare to the other Fiberon products? Its price seems reasonable.

    • Hi Chris,

      Although I don’t use Pro-Tect often, we do use Fiberon Horizons all the time and have had nothing but great success with it. The Pro-Tect is not fully encapsulated on all four sides like Horizons and uses less material to manufacture since the bottom side is scalloped.

      Fiberon also gives it a lesser warranty to keep the costs down.

      The cost difference, relative the overall cost of most projects, between the “value” product and the “premium” product is usually not that great at the end of the day and it’s the reason why we don’t ever use the “value” products marketed by any of the manufacturers. On a $10,000.00 project, you may only be saving $500.00 dollars by using the value product which is trivial over the lifespan of the deck.

      • Mark Govannicci says:

        Greg,

        Thank you very much for your helpful information on this forum! I live in Southeastern PA and am replacing my old wood deck and am leaning towards a capped composite. My wife likes the look of the Trex Transcend Beach Dune color, but I am concerned that it is not capped on the bottom and therfore may be prone to a lot of mold and mildew underneath (wouldn’t be a big deal unless such began to smell or creep to the top of the deck). Have you seen this as a problem with Trex or other partial/3 sided capped composites? My deck is low to the ground (1 to 2 feet) and part is in a shady area. Also, I have read that fully capped composites tend to swell at the ends. Have you seen this as an issue, and if so, between Fiberon Horizons or Tibmertech Earthwood Evolutions, which swells less?

        Thank you very much.

      • Hi Mark,

        Mold and mildew will grow on anything, anywhere…especially in a dark moist place. That being said, I wouldn’t worry about Transcends only being capped on three sides. Millions and millions of square feet of composite decking are currently in service with no cap at all without issues. The cap is really there for aethetics and durability. The inner composite core is doing the heavy lifting, per se.

        Personally, I know of exactly one capped deck board failure due to end swelling (not Trex) that was well publicized and has been beat to death online. I happen to know the contractor who did the install and spoke to him about the particulars of the deck project which did not seem to have come to light. The project was under harsh environmental conditions and use of those boards in that application ignored the manufacturer’s ventilation requirements. In essence, he used the wrong board in the wrong application.

        You should be fine with Transcends with 12-24″ of ventilation.

      • Rob Gabriel says:

        Hi Greg:

        Thanks for your “real commentary”, it is very appreciated.

        Following up on the questions from Chris:

        1) On my project, when comparing only material, Fiberon Pro-Tect comes in at about $6,700 and Fiberon Horizons at about $8,200 — a $1,500 difference. That said the warranty seems the same in all areas except length 20 years versus 25 years and for n both it appears to only be valid to the original owner.

        2) In reference to your comments about the scalloped bottom of the Pro-Tect, does it really matter if it saves costs in production (less material) and shipping (less weight) and only one side will be visible to the eye? Perhaps the concept is similar to corrugated cardboard and/or adding beads to a tin canister which both offer more strength, less material and better costs, without lessening the quality. Your thoughts?

        3) Further to the above and your comments about new product technology, typically being an improvement over earlier products, when was Pro-Tect actually introduced?

        4) Curious your opinion on:
        a) Square Edged (screwed down) versus Grooved Edge (using hidden fasteners) boards.
        b) TimberTech versus Fiberon versus Trex hidden fasteners and their interchangeability?

        5) Have you needed to make any warranty claims with with Fiberon, Trex and/or TimberTech? If yes, how was your matter handled?

        Greg, thank you again for running DeckAdvisor.com; I along with many others are the beneficiaries of your unbiased wisdom.

        Best regards,

        Rob

      • Hi Rob,

        Thanks for your kind words.

        I’ll try to answer your questions to the best of my expertise:

      • Whether it’s 20 or 25 years, my rationale is that it really doesn’t matter. If you built a deck in 1992 using Fiberon Pro-Tect, the warranty would be up this year. At 25 years, you built that deck in 1987. A lot will have changed by 2037 and my guess is that even if the deck boards still look great, you’ll be sick of looking at them and will want to change the style like most people! Most people reside their houses in 25 years just because styles and materials change and the same rationale would go for a deck.
      • I wouldn’t hesistate to use Pro-Tect. We used it once and it felt and looked just like Horizons, but if you want that extra 5 year warranty…go with Horizons.
      • Pro-Tect was rolled out after Horizons, but the technologies are nearly identical. I suppose they might use a slightly lower quality cap compound, but even so, it comes with a 20-year warranty!
      • We only use grooved/HFS systems and do not face screw–ever.
      • We use all three of the brands you mentioned regularly with whatever HFS system the manufacturer recommends without a hiccup. We DO NOT like the gun-style Trex clips and have had issues with them. We use their Universal fastener or Invisifast instead.
      • TimberTech has, without a doubt, the best warranty service in the deck industry from my personal experience. Trex and Fiberon are good too, TimberTech is just better than you could ever imagine. While technically it shouldn’t matter, I can absolutely tell you that with any of the companies, you’ll have a much better experience if the contractor you select to do the work has a good relationship with the manufacturer. The manufacturers value relationships they have with respected deck builders and certainly want to keep them happy!
      • Hope this helps!

  • Rob Gabriel says:

    Greg:

    If I may say so, you are awesome and your answers helped a lot!!!

    By way of clarification you wrote: “. . . The manufacturers value relationships they have with respected deck builders and certainly want to keep them happy!”

    I take this to also imply, manufacturers will value relationships with BUILDING SUPPLY companies that purchase a lot of deck material. Correct?

    Thanks again.

    Best,

    Rob

  • David says:

    Greg,

    Last year you indicated that Trex Transcend’s lamination was suspect (i.e some of the laminate was coming of of the boards even when being delivered). Has Trex improved in this area since last year/is this still an isue in 2012?

    Thank you!

    • We install Trex Transcends frequently and although the capping is applied somewhat haphazardly compared to other brands, we haven’t had any issues with delamination or quality concerns.

  • Derek says:

    Hi Greg,

    I live in central Minnesota and my wife and I are looking for a deck material that will work the best in all the MN environments. The deck will be southern exposure and there are no trees around to provide shade so the deck will take the beating of the sun all day and the harsh MN weather all winter. We are also looking for a very low maintenance deck and one that we can build a screened in porch underneath. The size of the deck will be 20′ x 12′. Any of your expertise would be appreciated. We are currently looking into the Azek products.

    • Hi Derek,

      I would avoid any PVC board in 2012 and beyond that does not have a fade guarantee. Most PVC board manufacturers do not provide this guarantee and tip toe around it for obvious reasons. PVC in general is extremely difficult to chemically engineer to be UV resistant long term–especially dark colors. This is why most vinyl siding you see comes in lighter colors.

      My opinion is that most capped composite boards outperform most PVC boards at this stage in the game on nearly every front from color retention to the feel under foot.

  • Toni says:

    Greg: I hope you can help me. We built a new deck less than two years ago with TimberTech XLM Desert Bronze. It looked beautiful at the outset. But now, less than two years later, we have realized that the product is defective. The decking has scorched black in the areas where we get the most sun. Other areas are turning white. Of less concern, but still problematic, there are areas where the decking is warping, it squeaks and has a great deal of bouncing.

    TimberTech has offered to replace the decking. They have discontinued Desert Bronze because of the scorching issue and have offered us other XLM products like Harvest Brown or Earthwood Evolutions. How do we make sure however that we don’t have the same issues with these products? We don’t want to replace the deck with another TimberTech product only to have similar issues.

    What do you think?

    • Hi Toni,

      Manufacturing a PVC deck board like TimberTech Desert Bronze is pretty complicated chemistry.

      All of the manufacturers, TimberTech included, spend a lot of time and money testing board compositions before they are mass produced. It would be foolish not to.

      This testing is mostly done via laboratory simulations that are designed to mimic years and years of exposure in a short time time. It is impossible to test a product for 20 years letting it weather outside. These tests are pretty rigorous and scientific. I’ve seen them with my own eyes.

      Despite the lab tests, conditions in the real world are the ultimate factor as you can see. Any manufactured product, whether it be a deck or a stove or a car, can have problems once you own it. When wood gets dried and out and cracks, warping and checking, there is NO warranty–you’re on your own.

      As a professional deck builder, I will only install products from reputable manufacturers like TimberTech that stand behind their products and handle warranty claims if they arise without exception. I have replaced many Desert Bronze decks that we built and also decks built by other contractors for TimberTech. Their response to the issue has been exemplary and I would not hesitate to install more TimberTech products based on what I’ve seen.

      Other manufacturers have similar issues with PVC decking and come up with excuses as to why it isn’t covered under warranty and say “tough luck” but not TimberTech.

      I personally like the performance characteristics of Earthwood Evolutions more than XLM at this point and I continue to install Evolutions on about three new jobs a month.

  • David says:

    Greg,

    Quick question on fastners. We have decided to go with Trex Transcend, but are curious as to what you recommend as the best hidden fastner system. Is there a major difference between the Trex stanless steel hideaway fastners and the Trex plastic hideaway fastners? The stainless steel are much more expensive. One concern is we do not want a lot of squeaking.

    Thanks,

    David

    • Hi David,

      We have had bad experiences with the Trex Stainless Steel clips and have completely given up on using that fastener in lieu of their manual Universal Hideaway Nylon clip.

      While we use nearly identical steel clips on several other brands of decking (the clips are all made by the same manufacturer and are minimally changed to be private labeled) the aggressively sloped groove in the Transcends boards is not conducive to that type of clip from what we’ve seen.

      The Universal Clips are a little slower since they can’t be shot with a gun, but the end result is much better.

      • David says:

        Greg,

        Thank you for all of this helpful information! One more question. I noticed the Trex universal nylon hideaway clips automatically force a 1/4 inch spacing between boards, which is wider than my preference. Is there any other hidden fastner that works with Trex Transcend that would leave smaller spacing?

        Thank you again for all of your help and advice!!

      • Hi David,

        Trex specifically specifies a 1/4″ deck board cap for proper installation of the Transcends product. You absolutely MUST use a 1/4″ space to maintain warranty coverage.

      • David says:

        Greg,

        Now trying to fgure out what railing to go with. We were looking for a flat railing (something you could put a drink on) and like Fiberon’s Mission railing, but have read where some are experiencing sagging issues. Is there any particular railing you recommend that has a nice wide flat top? We aren’t looking for a particular color (white is fine).

        Thanks again for all of your advice.

        David

  • Steve says:

    Has there been any problems or concerns with swelling on the ends of these capped PVC boards since there is no coating on the ends and is exposed to the elements?

    • Hi Steve,

      I think your terminology is criss crossed. I think you are asking about capped composite not capped PVC.

      Capped composite has a good performance track record on all counts, but anything is possible under the “right”] conditions. The end swelling issue is something that seems to be discussed online frequently but is actually pretty rare–almost like Bigfoot.

      I have not personally seen or had any end swelling issues. On any deck, ventilation is important and the more you can get, the better.

  • Stephen says:

    If the price on AZEK and TimberTech (Earthwood Evolutions) are equal what would you recommend? Thanks!

    • Hi Stephen,

      I have lost confidence in PVC deck boards like Azek due to the fact that we’ve installed miles of PVC decking and have seen fading and chalking become nearly unavoidable.

      We have switched over to using capstock composites (like TimberTech Earthwoods Evolutions) in lieu of PVC because eliminating the PVC from the deck board helps to eliminate the cause of fading and chalking.

      So…I would go with TimberTech.

      • Stephen says:

        Thanks Greg. I appreciate you doing this site. I almost went with a MoistureShield composite before reading your article but have been convinced that capped is the way to go.

  • Joel Dunsmore says:

    We are considering the new Trex Trancend Porch decking, which has a kind of overlay on the top side that makes the gap look very small when using the hidden fastener system; at least that’s what the website says. Have you seen or used this porch decking?

    • Hi Joel,

      We need to verify that you are installing the product under a covered roof area. Transcends Porch flooring is NOT designed to be installed on a typical exposed deck. Because it does not have gaps for drainage, it needs to be installed with limited overhead exposure.

      I am familiar with Trex Transcends Porch flooring but we have not had a chance to use it. You may also want to check out a product called Aeratis which is a very good looking product that is paintable and looks like traditional wood porch flooring.

  • Stephen says:

    You said you’ve been putting alot of Earthwood evolutions decks up. I’m having a hard time choosing an accent color to go with Pacific Walnut. Any experience with what looks really good?

  • Chuckster says:

    Hey Greg – man thanks for this info it really helps. I’m about to pull the trigger on an order for 600 sq/ft of Timbertech Earthwoods Evolution — was wondering how you handle doing a picture frame with this product — do you route a groove on the inside edge of the frame boards for the hidden fastener, or do you screw it from underneath (or something else) ? I’m a little reluctant to break through the cap by routing in a slot; curious as to how a pro deals with this…thanks!

    • Hi Chuck,

      We prefer to use a biscuit joiner to cut the slots. It’s faster, safer and far easier to use than a router. You can use clips on one side of the border. We use color matched face screws on the outside edge of the board rather than fool around with L-clips or toe screws.

      Greg

  • Kenneth Maahs says:

    What product line in TT (or anything else) would allow for being screwed to marine plywood with beams beneath the plywood? Obviously no air circulation under the deck; it is over a room below. Would a PVC like XLM or a Capped Earthwood Horizon approach be better or should such an installation never be contemplated?

    • Hi Kenneth,

      I assume you are putting some sort of waterproof membrane OVER the plywood before the decking is installed. In that case, you would need to install the decking on a sleeper system that lays directly on the membrane but does not penetrate it. We have installed PVC decking on sleepers without issues. I would definitely put a call into the manufacturer of whatever decking product you are interested in to get their blessing on a sleepered install as some boards DO require ventilation and forgoing it voids the warranty.

      • Dr. Kenneth H. Maahs says:

        Greg, I am on board for Wolf Amberwood decking. Which hidden fastener would be best. They are solid boards, not grooved.
        Thanks again and Merry Christmas!

      • Dr. Kenneth H. Maahs says:

        An additional thought. I’m thinking that through screwing might just be the best way to go for the long run. Do you have any problem with that approach for Wolf Amberwood? Thanks!

  • Kenneth Maahs says:

    Chris, thanks for the reply. I think, however, that that issue is behind me. Now I want to buy a scratch and fade resistant product for real durability. I am thinking about capped pvc. No warped ends! The only company I can come up with is WOLF. They have a capped pvc for $73 a 20′ board. But would I be part of their research experience. What is known about their products if anything. This is new for them; can you have any confidence in this company to do a new product or am I the research entity? It is fully capped, both sides are very nicely wood grained and the capping contains an ASA polymer product. It sounds good, but a company I have never heard of before????? Many thanks!!

    • Kenneth,

      I also like the new WOLF product and will be offering it to our clients in 2013 because of the ASA component. While it is a newer product, WOLF is a very intelligent company with an excellent reputation for standing behind the products they market and sell. WOLF is outsourcing the manufacturing to an extremely competent manufacturer (I am not at liberty to say who at this point) that also has an excellent track record in our industry.

      Your best bet is to contact WOLF to get their blessing on your unique installation.

      Greg

      • Dr. Kenneth H. Maahs says:

        Thanks, Greg! I’ll take that as an unflinching approval of that Wolf product I will be ordering it in a day or two. If there are any further reservations, on your part, please let me know!

  • Hey Greg
    Getting ready to replace decks at our Jersey shore house. Three of the four contractors are recommending Azek decking, pricing is high; while one maintains that Azek is NOT the way to go at the shore and we should use Coastal Kleer. Any advise? Allison

    • Hi Allison,

      We have installed A LOT of Azek decking over the years and have since stopped installing it. The primary reason was that we found that many of the decks we installed experienced significant “chalking” or fading after only a couple seasons. PVC decking in general is extremely prone to fading due to it’s chemical composition. It’s the reason why 98% of the vinyl you see in building products is either white or very light shades of colors. Think about fences and vinyl siding. Most vinyl siding is tan, beige, or light gray because it tends to mask the chalking effect over time.

      I have no personal experience with Kleer’s PVC board, but I suspect they, like everyone else, claim their boards won’t fade and are the best. KLEER was pretty late to the deckboard game and jumped on the bandwagon to put ssomething into the marketplace. Again, I do not have any first hand experience with the product, but understand the background.

      You may want to check into WOLF decking as their PVC boards use a full ASA cap that is similar the material used for the dashboard of your car which is highly fade resistant. This product is also new, but the fact that it has an ASA cap is a HUGE deal.

      Remember…the sun fades EVERYTHING outdoors…even the paint on your car. So all deck boards will fade to some extent, it’s just a matter of how much you are willing to accept. The capstock composite boards are much easier to manufacture to be highly resistant to fading compared to PVC. You may want to explore TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions, Trex Transcends, or Fiberon Horizons.

      The upside to PVC is that it’s tough and highly will never rot.

      • blessed says:

        Hi Greg,
        I am a general contractor building my personal home on the NC coast. The house is on an island where the elements have a harsh affect on all the materials. I am having a hard time deciding on a low maintainance decking to use. I was pretty set on Fiberon horizon but then saw a sample of Wolf amberwood. I can’t find alot of info on the Wolf product. What are your recommedations for a flooring used on the coast where the elements are harsh? Should I consider a capped composite typed product instead of a PVC?
        What are my options for the stair treads if i use a PVC decking? The stringers are 20″ o.c. and most of the manufacturers recommendations suggest no more than 12 o.c.
        Thanks

      • We use a lot of Fiberon Horizon and have had excellent luck with it. I hold it in high regard and don’t think coastal effects would decrease its performance.

        Wolf’s PVC boards do not use a PVC cap which is a huge benefit over other PVC boards. Based on their cap composition, Wolf probably is putting out one of the best PVC products at the moment.

        Your stringer issue is easy. Add more! 20″ won’t work on ANY synthetic so they must be replaced or augmented.

  • Chuckster says:

    Hi Greg – I finally finished my 600 sq/ft TimberTech “Earthwoods Evolution” decking. One thing I’ve noticed is that some of the end-cut boards are starting to swell every so slightly. If I run my fingertips across the end of the board, there is about a 1/32″ to 1/16″ of “lift” on the end.

    I’m getting worried about this because I noticed that the boards do absorb water. We have already had a couple over overnight freezes here in Eastern NY.

    I’m going to try to force some Thompson’s Water Seal into the ends (I did a picture frame, so this is not going to be easy). Have you ever encountered this before — and should I be worried?

    • JCB says:

      Greg, Chuckster,
      I installed Eathwoods Evolution last August in Seattle and have noticed the ends begining to swell 1/16″ or .050-.070″…
      Timbertech does not mention end sealing in the installation instructions…
      What is the best course of action? End seal with a hardwood, (IPE), type sealer?

      • John,

        We have installed Earthwoods Evolutions on many projects and have not experienced any end swelling. I am not aware of the need to treat end cuts on any capstock products. You can always call TimberTech and ask them what they suggest.

        One question for you. Is there a drainage system installed beneath the deck?

      • Dr. Kenneth H. Maahs says:

        The below item was not my question. I was wondering as I install a Wolf Amberwood deck, which is the best hidden fastener system or would you find through screwing a preferable approach for long term satisfaction?
        Thanks!

  • Mike Verde says:

    Thanks for this article. Creditable recommendations on the different composite/PVC decking options are hard to come by.
    We just put in a pool and are about to resurface our PT deck in Upstate NY. The area has full southern exposure, with the only shade coming from a retractable awning, or the deck would be unusable in the summer heat. My contractor quoted Trex Transends, but I have been leaning toward Fiberon Outdoor Flooring (PVC with Lumenite), or CetainTeed EverNew LT (same product marketed by 2 companies).

    Most important is of course low maintenance, and durability, but I am also very concerned with heat retention and slippery surface. There will be a lot of wet, bare feet on this deck. Fiberon actively markets it product as cooler to the touch, but I have been unable to find confirmation from another source as to whether it lives up to the claim. This is one of the reasons we are looking to at grey/driftwood.

    Both products are rated for 16″ centers, but I was wondering if anyone has any comments about sagging. Would the PVC or composite be more likely to sag at 16″? Does anyone have any opinion on the Fiberon DeckPilot system, that allows for fastener-free appearance without the use/cost of extra clips?

    Thanks again for sharing your experience.

    • Hi Mike,

      Heat retention of any product has a lot to do with it’s reflectivity (color) than it’s composition. Think about standing outside in the sun wearing black clothes versus white clothes. It’s the same premise with deck boards.

      That being said, in the blazing sun, pretty much any product you use whether it’s dark brown wood or dark brown synthetic decking is going to be hot to walk on with barefeet. Sure there are some variances due to density and such, but I don’t need a thermometer to tell me my feet are burning! Once the surface gets hot. It’s hot and a couple of degrees difference between two products becomes academic.

      My suggestions is to use a light color like a sand or a light gray decking if you want to make the most significant reduction in temperature on the surface because anything dark brown is going to be hotter.

      All PVC deck boards are “able” to be installed at 90* to the joists spaced 16 O.C. There will be some sponginess in the heat. We’ve done plenty without issue at 16″ OC, but if my client wants a little more rigidity, we frame at 12″ OC with PVC boards.

      As I’ve mentioned previously, we have stopped installing PVC boards for a variety of reasons in favor of capstock products like Trex Transcends, TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions, Fiberon Horizon, and Wolf.

      The DeckPilot system works well. In fact, the CAMO system is it’s second generation and is a good method (albeit slow) of fastening. HFS clips are not much more expensive and are faster to install.

      None of the boards you mentioned are especially slippery and all are designed to be slip resistant, but Trex Transcends has the grippiest surface of those you mentioned.

  • blessed says:

    Greg,
    Thanks for your response. This might be an unfair question to ask you but I am going to put you on the spot. If you were building a house for yourself today with all the different type of composite/pvc decking on the market, which one would you use? I having been building homes for over 20 years and have only installed one deck with a composite floor. It was something that the homeowner wanted. So I don’t have any experience in this area. Your opinion and expertise will be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks

    • Good question. Many people ask me it. If I were building a deck on my own house today (January 2013), I would absolutely use a capstock composite product in lieu of a PVC board. The capstock composite boards are much denser and therefore are more solid to walk on, they perform better from a cosmetic standpoint because they don’t have to rely on PVC blends to prevent fading and they are generally a little less expensive. I have seen too many issues with PVC board failures due to color issues to put a lot of faith in them long terms. The capstock composite boards definitely have the edge, in my opinion.

  • Mike bates says:

    Two questions! I’ve seen a lot of the composite decking with the black mold spots showing up, wouldn’t the cap stock stop this ? I don’t see how the mold spots could show through the PVC capstock, even though their is a possibility that mold could grow in the composite! Is it possible the places were the capstock is not covering the board will they deteriorate quicker than the rest of the board? Sorry one more! U wrote that some cap stocks have come off before even being used, do u think this could happen later down the road? I want to use timbertech evolutions . Thanks for your time

    • Hi Mike,

      Technically, mildew and mold will grow on anything–even your car if you left it in the shade long enough. Both attach themselves to the dirt/organic matter on the surface and grow on that thin layer of grime. Removing the mold or mildew is easy on a non-staining/non-porous surface like a vinyl fence, or a capstock composite or PVC deck board because the mold and mildew is not bonded to the building material, it’s bonded to the dirt. Wash off the dirt and the mold and mildew is gone. Older composite boards were not only porous, but they stained and they contained little bits of organic matter that mold loved to feast on.

      So, to answer your question, capstock composite boards are mostly impervious to mold and mildew growth because they don’t stain and they are easy to wash off.

      As to your last question, we have installed miles of capstock composite boards from TimberTech, Trex and Fiberon without seeing any delamination issues. I have heard of delamination in a few rare instances with extraordinary circumstances, but I believe those are the exception rather than the rule. Most times, they were installed against manufacturer’s recommendations.

  • Todd Young says:

    I am considering a PVC decking from Ampro. Is anyone familiar with this product as I have not seen much on the internet about it. The actual product is the Ampro Brazillian Redwood. Thank you for any insight anyone could give.

    • Hi Todd,

      I have never heard of it. If you follow this blog, you’ll see that PVC has fallen out of favor with many deck builders at this stage of the game. If I had my back against the wall and had to use PVC decking for a specific reason, I would only use one from a reputable manufacturer that has been around for a long time.

      The deck materials market is a BIG business and lots of companies try to make quick bucks by throwing their hats into the ring with new products. Historically, this has been a disaster. The reason you haven’t seen anything on the internet about AMPRO is that it’s a fringe brand. Cheaper is NEVER better…especially with deck materials. Stick to a big name and pay a few cents more if you have to.

      • Alan Grupp says:

        Greg,

        My wife and I are going to be replacing our deck at our home which is near Albany, NY. In researching which material we should be using, I discovered your terrific blog on line. I wish you were located near me so that I could have you do the job!

        I watched your video which compared and contrasted the three types of non-wood materials — composite, capped composite, and PVC — and read all the letters and your responses. I am a bit confused about a couple of things and was hoping to get some clarification from you. The questions are as follows:

        1) In the video, you seemed to suggest that the PVC option was the best of the three. Yet, when I read the letters and your responses, you mentioned that you would now stay away from the PVC material and, instead, opt for the capped composite. I believe this was due largely to the fact that the capped composite was not as prone to fading. In any case, could you comment on this?

        2) In one of your responses, you reference a fourth material option — one with a PVC core with an “ASA” capped coating. You indicated that this may be the best option yet. If this is the case, can you recommend specific brands we should consider? I believe Wolf was one brand; are there others? Also, what is “ASA?”

        Thanks, in advance, for your counsel.

        Sincerely,

        Alan Grupp

      • Hi Allan,

        We have stopped using PVC decking due to issues with it fading and chalking–regardless of the brand–after only a few seasons exposed to the elements. Granted EVERY product is going to fade to some extent, but we’ve seen a myriad of issues with all brands of PVC where the color change was total failure.

        The Wolf PVC boards use no PVC (they use a full ASA cap where most other capped PVC boards use a PVC/ASA blend) in the cap which makes them much more resistant to fading long term which is why I like the product. If I absolutely had to install a PVC deck today, I would install the Wolf PVC.

        Here’s some info on ASA:

        If you notice it’s applications, you will see that ASA is pretty consistently used in high UV exposure applications for years with a proven track record.

  • Alan Grupp says:

    Greg, you referenced info on ASA above, but I think it got left off. I can google it.

    Thanks again.

    Alan

  • Ted U says:

    Greg, I am now totally confused that the hugely popular PVC decking, like Azek, is now no longer recommended whereas it seemed not too long ago it was highly recommended. I am just about to order decking material for our deck replacement and was about to get Azek– the other one in the running was capped decking Timbertech Evolutions — because it seemed to not have issues particularly when compared with capped material that had a few reports of delamination. Now, I don’t know what to do. So, are you saying that most deck installers are no longer recommending products like Azek and instead capped material like Timbertech Evolutions? If so, does that mean that the plastic outer surface encapsulating the composite material is not PVC? It seems so odd that just about every deck contractor I spoke with to get bids said that they only install Azek. I would think that if there were problems with Azek (and PVC deck material overall) that they would not want to be associated with it because the first call I would make when my deck started to have problems would be the deck contractor. Thanks. Ted

    • Hi Ted,

      We have seen massive color failures in Azek decking and TimberTech XLM. PVC deck boards are extremely tricky to make impervious to UV light, requiring complicated chemistry to get right. No legitimate manufacturer that I have seen will warranty a PVC deck board against fading and if they did, they would be crazy.

      Capstock composites do not use PVC in the cap so they are much simpler to make fade resistant. Most come with 25-year fade guarantees as a result.

      I am surprised to hear that every contractor you spoke with only installs Azek at this point. I know many of the top contractors around the country and I can’t think of one that only installs Azek in 2013. Either you are dealing with the luckiest contractors that have never had an issue with PVC or their idea of what is acceptable in terms of color retention is different than mine. Lighter PVC colors tend to fair better than darker PVC colors, but I have had even the lightest of light PVC boards chalk (turn white) terribly. Some decks that get a lot of shade fair better, but almost every PVC deck we have ever done has chalked to a fair extent.

  • Shelley Hermitte says:

    Hi Greg,
    your information on decking materials appears knowledgeable. We live north of Ottawa, On, Canada and are wanting to build a fairly substantial deck this year. I am just about crazy researching materials and just want to build something tough and durable with extremely little maintenance. Contractors in our area have no experience with exotic hardwoods so that’s pretty much out. We do have a Timbertech dealer here who has recommended an installer that has some experience with it. I have picked up samples of earthwoods evolution. Boy that polypropylene capping looks aweful thin. We can kinda peel it up a bit with our fingernails along the cut edge. Building this deck with materials and labour I’m sure will cost us over $20,000. and we want to be sure we’ve chosen the right material and of course contractor. Is this stuff really going to stand up to our harsh weather conditions and normal wear and tear? The other issue we have is that we are going to require approximately 53′ of privacy screening around a portion of the deck and don’t know how to approach that with using capped composite for the deck floor. We want what’s best even if it’s going to cost a little more. Not worried about it looking like wood although that’s nice. More concerned with it just looking new as long as possible.
    Can you please give us your expert opinion?
    Thank you,
    Shelley Hermitte

    • Hi Shelly,

      We have installed miles of TimberTech products over the years and have had some problems along the way. That being said, TimberTech has been absolutely outstanding with regard to dealing with any warranty claims that were filed. They have always been, in my experience, the leader that other manufacturers should aspire to in terms of customer support. Every major deck manufacturer has had some sort of issue along the way and I have always felt confident to install TimberTech because of how well they have responded to any issues that arose.

      Today, as a matter of fact, we are installed Earthwood Evolutions on a project. I personally have faith in the product’s testing otherwise we wouldn’t be installing it. That being said, of all the capped composites we install regularly, I rank Earthwoods as being one of the easier boards to scratch–not through the cap–on the surface most likely because of it’s shallower grain pattern. Trex Transcends has the most durable cap of any product we install.

      I tell my clients that I can scratch concrete if I try, so you need to have realistic expectations.

      You can use the deck boards to build a privacy screen. Just make sure your contractor builds a structural frame with wood and wraps it with the boards and/or fascia.

      • Grupp, Alan says:

        Greg,

        Just so I am clear, as of now, it appears that you are recommending capped composites as the “state-of-the art” for decking materials.

        So, can you confirms the above and, if so, which material and brand do you recommend? The ASA capped composite by Wolf or another one?

        Thank you.

      • Hi Alan,

        We are regularly installing Trex Transcends, TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions, Fiberon Horizon and the Wolf Island Collection. They are all solid performers in my opinion and I would not hesitate to put them on my own home. We offer four brands to provide a variety of aesthetics to our clients.

        Greg

      • Grupp, Alan says:

        Thanks.

      • Todd Young says:

        Just installed Fiberon Horizon tudor brown on my deck and could not be happier. I am not a contractor by any means just a homeowner to cheap to hire a pro to it. Easy materials to use and the finished product exceeded my expectations. Fiberon has my vote!!!

      • Alan Grupp says:

        Thank you!

      • Todd Young says:

        For those looking for a good affordable, reliable rail I bought mine from Great Railings in Williamstown, NJ. They manufacture them at their showroom location. Both top and bottom rail lined with aluminum so they are super strong. Just wanted to share what I feel is a best kept secret rail company that i found!

  • Brian Pletcher says:

    Greg,

    I am replacing a composite deck and thinking about using Timbertech evolution tropical line. I will be using a drainage system under the deck boards to create an outdoor living space under the deck. The house is a walkout. Do you see any ventilation issues with a capped product like evolutions in this scenario? I live in northern Indiana.

    Thanks for your help

    Brian Pletcher.

    • Hi Brian,

      According to the manufacturer, you should have no problems installed the Earthwood Evolutions deck boards in tandem with a deck drainage system. For the sake of warranty compliance, you can explore using TimberTech’s DrySpace system that mounts under the joists. IT will keep the whole “system” under warranty.

      We have done custom drainage systems with polyethylene sheeting installed above the joists (a trough system) on XLM (PVC) decks with no issues. We have not done any with Earthwoods Evolutions, but Trex for example sells an above the joist system and warrants Transcends over it and Transcends isn’t sealed like Evolutions is, so I think you would be OK.

      If in doubt, contact TimberTech directly and ask them what they recommend.

  • Michael H. says:

    Hi Brian,

    My wife and I are considering installing the TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions for our pool deck. We love the look of the Pacific Teak. How are the capped composites for this type of application? Would we be better off going with an all PVC product instead?

  • Michael H. says:

    Hi Greg,

    My wife and I are considering installing the TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions for our pool deck. We love the look of the Pacific Teak. How are the capped composites for this type of application? Would we be better off going with an all PVC product instead?

    • You should have no issues with TTEE on a pool deck from what we have seen. Read below and you will see that PVC has fallen out of favor with many deck builders (including myself) due to fading issues. I know of one pool deck in particular that had a PVC deck built around that failed spectacularly due to chlorine from the pool.

  • Tony C. says:

    Hi Greg,

    I can’t believe you’ve been reliably updating this thread for almost two years now. Thanks for all the great knowledge and support!

    I’m looking to install a small ground-level floating deck (~180 sq ft)in upstate NY, and was looking into composites for their low maintenance. However, reading through this thread you mentioned ventilation requirements – and my deck would have almost none. Is there any capped composite that would be suitable, or something I can do to mitigate the lack of ventilation? Thanks again!

    • Hi Anthony,

      I’m glad you enjoy this blog!

      Most of the capped composites call for some sort of ventilation… You’re right.

      Some boards only require 3.5″ (like Trex Transcends which can be installed over sleepers) and others require some sort of airspace under the joists.

      Your best bet is to contact the manufacturer directly and get their blessing in writing. That’s what I do in oddball situations.

  • Edward C says:

    [quote="Greg"]That being said, of all the capped composites we install regularly, I rank Earthwoods as being one of the easier boards to scratch–not through the cap–on the surface most likely because of it’s shallower grain pattern. Trex Transcends has the most durable cap of any product we install.[/quote]
    Hi Greg,

    Very informative blog! Thanks for all the info. We are planning on getting a low-to-the-ground [approx 6 in clearance]. We’re debating between the 3 capped composites you’ve mentioned. Do you know if any of them are not recommended as low-to-the-ground decking due to ventilation concerns? Currently we like the design / pattern of the Fiberon Horizons. We’re going to go back to the store to compare all 3 once more. Based on your quote above, is Fiberon Horizons between Earthwoods and Transcends in terms of durable cap?

    • Edward,

      Fiberon Horizon does have a ventilation requirement where they want some number of inches (I can’t recall at the moment) of clear airflow between the bottoms of the joists and the ground. Trex Transcends can be installed over a sleeper system with no ventilation required. As always, get your installation approved IN WRITING from the manufacturer prior to installation to avoid potential issues down the road.

      Yes, Fiberon Horizons is in the middle of those three boards in terms of scratch resistance. Remember…I can scratch concrete if I drag a screwdriver over it, so ANY product is going to scratch under extreme conditions. All of these deck boards are designed to be scratch resistant under normal circumstances.

      I have no personal experience with Moisture Shield decking as it is not widely distributed in my area. That being said, I know several of my peers absolutely love it and have used it successfully for years.

      • Edward C says:

        Thanks for the reply. Should I just avoid the whole composite debate – and go with IPE decking? Pricing is comparable and a lot of decking people say wood’s been around forever, but composite is still relatively new. I like the idea of wood, but I also like the idea of low maintenance. Thanks again!

  • Edward C says:

    Also what is your opinion about MoistureShield?

  • Liz Lowry says:

    Hi…My deck suffered a lot of damage due to Hurricane Sandy. All my railings were smashed and my mahogany decking is intact. My question is I am considering using Fiberon or TimberTech railings , posts, caps in place of the wood. Do you have any thoughts on mixing the wood deck with the composite railings? Do you prefer one brand over the other? I’m leaning towards the Fiberon because their railing is available flat, not rounded. Better to hold drinks, plates etc when we entertain :) Thanks!

    • Hi Liz,

      It’s rare for my clients to mix wood and composite on the same deck, however if you are going to do it, the railings are what you want to be low maintenance–not the decking–because they are far more difficult to maintain over the years compared to a flat deck surface.

      If you want to do a drink rail cap, I would recommend using Trex Transcends Universal Railing. It is designed to have a deck board attached to the top of it whereas the Fiberon is not. In this project we did, the decking is Fiberon Horizon so we used a Fiberon Horizon deck board on top of the Trex Railing. There’s no law that says you can’t mix brands!

  • Nicole says:

    Hi Greg,
    I live in Northern Ontario where temperatures can range from -30 degrees Celsius in winter to 30 degrees Celsius in summer. Our decks (2nd & 3rd storey) face due South, and we have low-E windows, which may affect composite decking. Fiberon Horizons and Wolf ASA/PVC have been recommended for fade & stain resistance. What is your opinion? Also, I would love to have a dry space below all these decks. Is there a product you would recommend? I’ve heard of Dek Drain and Zip-Up Underdeck systems by MP Global Products. Your blog is amazing, and has certainly been educational.
    Nicole

    • Hi Nicole,

      We use Fiberon Horizons here in NJ all the time and have some pretty wild temperature swings like you are describing. Any man made board is going to be affected by thermal expansion and contraction so make sure you follow the manufacturer’s guide to the letter in terms of gapping.

      I have stopped using PVC as I have said previously in the blog, however if I absolutely HAD to use a PVC board, it would be the Wolf board because of it’s ASA cap.

      We use our own version of Dek Drain for waterproofing using bulk products that accomplish the same thing while being a little bit less expensive. It is a highly labor intensive undertaking to waterproof most decks that are framed with any kind of intricate framing and blocking. Whatever you use, realize you must maintain it and keep the drainage system clear of debris (like a gutter) for it to work effectively.

      Under deck drainage system Bergen County NJ

  • Ron Dunlap says:

    Hi!
    Have you used or know anything about Yakima decking, Dura shield composite deck boards? I was looking at the Prestige Series,in chestnut.
    Thanks
    Ron

    • No Ron, I have never heard of it.

      A good rule of thumb is to avoid new brands and products in the building industry and stay with established brands. There have been far too many new brands come and go to give them any serious consideration as far as I am concerned.

  • Jim Parry says:

    Greg,
    I see where you recommend staying away from Home Depot Products but my research tells me that the Vernda Armourguard product is made by Fiberon and is a capped composite with a 20 year stain and fade warranty… Your thoughts?

    • Home Depot generally private labels synthetic decking on a regional basis. Regardless of what the board is made of or who manufactures it, they call it Veranda. They buy it as cheap as they can. If some other buyer for Home Depot sources another board they can buy cheaper, Veranda changes overnight.

      As a professional contractor, I would not go near the stuff because:

      1) You have to deal with Home Depot to get it.
      2) You would have to deal with Home Depot to warranty it.
      3) The product will most likely not be there a year from now.

  • Jim Parry says:

    Thanks Greg… I found this information on their website: Who makes Veranda®?
    Fiberon is the exclusive manufacturer for Veranda composite decking, railing and fencing products for The Home Depot.

    I am inquiring further. I will let you know if they respond.

    • Maybe Fiberon has it locked up with HD. It didn’t used to be that way.

      Honestly, I do not care or pay attention to anything pertaining to Home Depot as it is not relative to us industry professionals. :)

  • Dan Shanahan says:

    Hello Greg, my compliments on your blog. Great information and nice to see current updates! If I may tap your knowledge and experience for some advice. I have definitely chosen timbertech as the company that I am going to use for materials (and a contractor that uses it very regularly) I am torn between the sand ridge PVC by TT vs. the brown oak terrain in the capped composite.

    We are in southeast Michigan, live on a lake, the deck is in sun a good portion of the day (morning til about 5pm), no trees of significance to drop crap on the deck. I was leaning to the sandridge PVC with a walnut grove trim as we wanted to go with a lighter color (to match the house and also for temperature on the feet) but now after thoroughly reading your blog I am seeing the disfavor of the PVC product (as I have seen on a few other blogs too). Unfortunately the capped composites don’t come in “lighter” colors. I contacted my deck contractor and he assured me that the xlm sandridge has never had chalking or fading issues.

    I hope I’ve Given you a good snapshot of my dilemma. Any input is much appreciated!

    Dan

    • Hi Dan,

      Lighter colors in PVC seem to be much more resistant to chalking than the darker colors. I have an XLM Walnut Grove deck we did two years ago (ironically the last PVC deck we built) and I just found out it’s got chalking problems this week. I have done several XLM Sandridge decks going back to it’s initial rollout and none that I know of have had issues with chalking. I have seen many chalking issues with Azek’s Brownstone color over the years which is pretty similar to Sandridge’s color, however the Azek and XLM boards are manufactured differently which most likely accounts for the better performance of the XLM.

      You could install XLM Sandridge field boards and border them with Evolutions Pacific Walnut for a similar look.

  • Debra says:

    I have researched the three companies you recommend and have not seen anything about whether a dog could scratch the capped composite. I read all your posts and see that you list Transcends first, Fiberon next, then Timbertech for most scratch resistant. Is Terrain as bad for scratching as the Earthwoods Evolution? I know I would probably be happy with any of the three, but it seems like each one has something going for AND against it.

    In the first post don’t you say that Fiberon Horizons cuts a groove in the cap and is compromised because of that? And that Trex Transcends is not fully encapsulated and lamination is suspect? Does that mean you think the Timbertech product is the best? I know you like their customer service. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated. You certainly have the most comprehensive and informative review online.
    Thanks,
    Debra

    • Hi Debra,

      All of the capped deck boards are pretty tough. Generally, a dog’s claws are much softer than the deck board, so the scratches you might have heard about is not the deck board itself scratching, but the dog’s claw rubbing off on the deck board like the mark a matchstick leaves on the striking strip on a matchbox.

      Terrain is essentially the same cap as Earthwoods Evolutions. The difference is the board extrusion profile.

      We use Trex, TimberTech and Fiberon interchangeably right now depending on the aesthetic the client is looking to achieve. The boards are manufactured very similarly, so saying one is “the best” is tough. All three are class leaders in my opinion and I tell my clients to not worry so much about the brand, but to select what they like on an aesthetic basis.

    • Jeff says:

      Debra, we are considering the main three capped boards that Greg refers to in this (great!) blog, plus TimberTech Terrain. Yesterday I laid out all the samples in the sun for a few hours, and then did a scratch test on them using thee different items: the head of a decking screw, the edge of a wrench, and the rounded plastic handle of a screwdriver.

      Based on seeing the results, the Terrain was immediately eliminated, as each item left a very visible scratch in the fine-grained structure of the board (probably why it’s on sake all over the place?). Transcends seemed to hide the scratches as well as anything, except when viewing the scratched area with sun glare, as the Transcends surface us shinier than the others. Horizons was almost ‘buffed’ to a gloss where the scratch was, but was in no way perforated by any of the three items; scratches were hard to see, but darker colors are worse in all cases (scratches were virtually invisible in the Greystone color). Earthwoods was similarly not very visible, but you could see (o ly up close) that the cap was actually scratched a bit.

      Not terribly scientific, but I’m glad I took the time to do it, as we would *not* have been happy with Terrain with any sort of deck furniture on it.

      • Good information, Jeff.

        One thing that clients I’ve dealt with seem to loose sight of when looking at man made boards is that pretty much ANY other material you would use on a deck would scratch just as easily if not easier under the same tests.

        Go take a deck screw and drag it across a concrete sidewalk and I bet it will leave a mark–on CONCRETE!

        Decks are outdoor surfaces subjected to abuse that is not typical inside the home. The “problem” with today’s gorgeous deck boards is that they look so good, it kills people to see a mark on them (kind of like that first ding in a new car).

  • Steve Sundra says:

    Static electricity buildup is a very real and annoying problem with PVC composite decking. The problem is marginally worse in the winter, but the summer humidity does not stop the problem. One stroll across the deck with a rubber soled shoe and beware grabbing the slider door handle! Think of the worst zap you ever received from carpet static and that is what you can expect every time you walk on this deck on a dry day. Mine is a 400 sqft Timbertech Earthwood Evolutions deck using metal clip fasteners. The deck averages 4 ft elevation over standard PT framing construction. I live at the Jersey shore where atmospheric humidity levels are generally high. Otherwise, the deck looks very nice and the clip fasteners worked simply, beautifully, and securely.

    • Steve,

      Static electricity can be an issue with man made decking. It’s tough to pin down. I have seen nearly identically constructed decks generate or not generate static. It can be a person’s shoes, the weather, the age of the deck, etc…

      I’ve heard of people grounding every single deck board with a grounding wire leading to a ground rod in extreme cases with varying degrees of success.

  • Dave Giles says:

    Greg,

    XLM has a note that you shouldn’t have any rubber of plastic products in contact with it. This is kind of tough because of the protective feet on outdoor furniture and such. Have you seen adverse effects from this on any of the deck materials, particularly capped material? If so, what are those adverse effects? Do you know if any other manufacturers have this prohibition?

  • Steven War says:

    Greg,

    I’m about to replace the deck boards on an 800 square foot dock (about a foot over the lake) in southern Virginia with synthetic boards. I’ve pretty much decided to go with a Wolf PVC product, but started second guessing that decision after I reviewed your DeckAdvisor.com. It appears that you are current recommending capped products over PVC, but you seem to segregate the Wolf products out by saying they are capped products. So I have two questions. 1) I’m considering going with the Wolf Amberwood product from its Tropical Harwood Collection which is Cellular PVS core with Premium ASA capstock – would you recommend that for a dock with full sunlight? 2) between the Wolf Amberwood product ( a brown wood tone color) and Wolf Avalon Sand (a tan-ish) color, how much of a difference am I going to feel in “hotness” on my feet – again on a dock in full sunlight – are my feet going to get burned with either – just less burned with the Avalon Sand color; or will I be able to walk comfortably with the Avalon Sand color and my feet will get burned on the Amberwood color?

    Thanks,,

    Steve

    • Hi Steve,

      On a dock, I would highly recommend a PVC board like the Wolf products because of the moisture involved. The ASA cap is the important thing to note and it’s why I like the Wolf PVC boards over anyone else’s. The PVC core is mostly unaffected by moisture and the all ASA Cap is highly resistant to UV degradation much more so than PVC.

      Dark colors absorb more heat than light colors. Think of the difference between wearing a black shirt versus a white shirt in the sun. When it’s hot, it’s hot–the board color only matters so much at some point!

      See my new post explaining the temperature of deck boards here.

  • Mike Duszkiewicz says:

    Hi Greg,
    Is the AZEK Terra Collection solid PVC or the capped material you speak of? I can seem to find the answer?

  • Mike Duszkiewicz says:

    Thank you Greg. That was very helpful. What does ASA stand for?
    What is 5/4 x 6 x 16 Beechwood Brown Ultra-Low Maintenance Composite Decking made of? It is by Style selections at Lowes. It says it has a poly cap. Would that be the same as pvc?

    • ASA Plastic is Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate–basically what they use to make automobile dashboards.

      I am not familiar with the board you mentioned, but I would avoid box store branded boards. They are cheap for a reason and I don’t know any professional deck contractors that would touch a store brand board.

      It definitely does not have a PVC cap since it’s a composite core. It might have a polyethylene cap.

      • Robin Guy says:

        Greg, you have been very helpful! I am looking to replace a 10×12 wood deck with rails with a low maintenance deck. I’ve done a lot of research and find pros and cons on every option. I’m leaning toward the TimberTech Evolutions Pacific Walnut because it is fully encapsulated and has a nice wood grain look. The deck is not used excessively.

        My primary concerns are with fading and mildew. The deck gets both sun and shade. There are trees in close proximity to the deck and I am concerned with the effects anything coming off the trees will have on the capped composite as well as the rails. I understand all products will fade and mildew – I just want the one that will do it the least. I like the black posts and rails but fear they may look gray in a short amount of time. Can you comment on the black color from decking you have installed.

        If the capped surface should get scratched, will that area favor mildew and mold. I live in Southern Maryland so we experience all four seasons – excessive heat in the summer and freezing rain and snow in the winter. In your professional opinion, do the capped composite decks withstand the test of time and weather changes. Although warrantied for 25 years, is that really the life span of the material or have you found after “x” number of years they begin to look poorly and need replacing. If the deck is going to need replacing in 10 years, I’d like to know going in. Thanks for taking
        the time to reply.

      • Hi Robin,

        Mildew and mold will and can grow on anything–even your car–but the mildew and mold is not really growing on the surface, it’s growing on the dirt and organic matter stuck on the surface. Wipe of the dirt and your mildew and mold will wash off with it. Any capped composite board is going to be easy to clean and should have a anti-stain warranty on it to prevent the mildew from permanently staining the boards.

        We have done plenty of black railing. It does fade a little bit, but it doesn’t turn gray (or it shouldn’t). Right now, our go to railing system is Trex Transcends and we have had good success with it.

        It’s tough to say what the lifespan of a building product is because it’s subjective. I have seen five year old vinyl siding look terrible, two year old concrete pavers look like they are a hundred years old, etc..Everything weathers–warranty or no warranty. Are you driving a 25-year old car or do you get a new car every four years? I can’t tell you what the definition of “poorly” is because my idea might be different than yours.

  • Don says:

    Greg, thank you for responding to so many inquiries about decks and products. Here is mine. I live north of Boston Ma.I will have my deck butt up to our above ground swimming pool. The deck will get about 80% sunlight exposure and for the 3-4 months of pool use traffic from us and our grandchildren will be getting wet from the chlorinated pool water. I hope that I’ve done adequate research in selecting the right manufacturer and product line. We like the Timbertech XLM in Sandridge (lightest color that we wanted) with their concealed locking system. We also have chosen CertainTeed’s COMPOSITE Panorama railings. I didn’t see many if any people talking about or using this manufacturers product. How familiar are you with CertainTeed’s Panorama rails with concealed railing system. We had been sold on Azek’s Brownstone but after reading so much about it I don’t think this would be in our best interest to persue this manufacturer any longer.Would you please advise us and comment on our choices, as it’s not too late to make changes and am open to any or all of your suggestions, I’m the homeowner and you’re the professional. Thanks very much !

  • Ryan says:

    Greg, I’m so glad I found this blog! I was researching these products for what I felt was an eternity. Your blog was extremely helpful in narrowing down our choices.

  • Lisa Gino says:

    Hi Greg,

    We are going to be using Fiberon, our question is whether to use PVC or composite (Horizon) decking. We were informed that there have been some issues w/the composite decking being capped on all four sides. Do you have any knowledge of this? Thanks.

    • Hi Lisa,

      We have installed miles of Fiberon Horizon without any issues. On the other hand, we have installed a similar amount of PVC decking that has been plagued with issues.

      As I have said before, we stopped using PVC because of performance issues in favor of capped composites like Fiberon Horizon.

  • Audra Rose says:

    Hi Greg,

    Purchased the TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions in Pacific Teak and had professionally installed. Top sealant clear coat is already peeling off in numberous places after just 3 months of having the deck and peeling in the areas that have the black only coloring that makes it look like wood grain.
    Have you heard of this problem yet from anybody?

    Thanks, Audra

    • Hi Audra,

      I have not heard or seen that issue with Earthwood Evolutions. I would contact your contractor and have them reach out to a local TimberTech rep to have them come and evaluate the issue.

      Thanks,

      Greg

  • Audra Rose says:

    Thanks, Greg. I have already started that process. I was just wondering if you had heard any other issues yet. I sure hope they stand behind their product.

  • Sue Yamins says:

    Hi,

    We, too, are considering using Earthwood Evolutions (Terrain Brown Oak) for our deck. I’m definitely not happy to hear about Audra’s experience.

    My question has to do with the Trex T clips and screws that would be used to hold the decking in place. One contractor said that it’s no longer recommended to use treated lumber for the joists below because it’s been found that the screws that come with the clips are disintegrating in the treated lumber. Instead he recommends using an untreated wood for the joists, Douglas fir here in OR, and putting something like a “Blueskin” product over the tops of the joists to help protect the untreated lumber.

    Have you heard of this problem with the screws in pressure treated lumber? Have you heard of, or have any experience with, his recommendation using the “Blueskin on joists made of untreated lumber?” Would you think there would be any problems where the “Blueskin” is in contact with the Earthwood Evolutions decking?

    Thanks so much for any advice you can offer and for maintaining this Q & A board. It has been most helpful in our planning.

    Sue

    • My reply is late (it’s deck season so I’m busy) but hopefully not too late to help!

      Sounds like your contractor is grossly misinformed. The Trex Universal “T” Clips use stainless steel screws. They aren’t going to dissolve in treated lumber. Framing a deck with UNTREATED lumber is sheer lunacy. Putting a butyl wrap (like Blueskin) over the top won’t help anything and will probably cause more rot in the long run. DO NOT USE UNTREATED LUMBER!!! You are on the edge of a recipe for disaster.

  • Mike Duszkiewicz says:

    Hi Greg,
    Which capstock is better, 4 sided shell or 3? The decking is going by a pool, so wouldn’t the 3 sided be better to allow the it to breathe? Or does the 3 sided allow water to get in the bottom of the open side and expand?

  • Susan says:

    Dear Greg,
    We live in northwest Pa. and want to replace an old wooden porch. My husband and I are both retired and in our 60′s. We are looking for the most maintenance free mid priced flooring and porch posts and railings available. We want to be sure that our investment outlives us. This is a covered porch in full sun. Which products would you recommend? Should we be looking for a certified contractor? There are lots of Amish builders in our area.
    Thank You!
    Susan

  • Kelly says:

    Hi Greg,
    We are replacing our wood deck due to rotten boards, and at first chose Azek. Now we saw a product called Moisture Shield. Good Warranty, been around many years, less expensive. I read all of your posts above, and I see you are not in favor of the Pvcs. Is Moisture Shield with the clips a better choice in the Midwest, south of Chicago, not around a pool…just a deck off the back of the house….Thanks,,,your’s is the best blog I’ve seen on the entire Google!!!..

    • Moisture Shield is an excellent product. While we don’t use it, I do know several deck builders that offer it as a budget board and have had great results.

      You’re right…I am not a fan of PVC. I’ve just seen too many issues.

  • DMV says:

    Hi Greg,
    Thanks for the post AND updates. Seeking expertise on a capped composite deck….we are looking for something that doesnt crack, fade and can withstand mild winter/snow, and budget friendly. How would you rate/rank the following?
    Fiberon Horizon
    Trex
    TimberTech
    Armadillo

    • Trex Transcends and Fiberon would be my front runners.

      I have a “hold” on TimberTech products until their acquisition dust settles.

      I have no experience or knowledge of Armadillo.

  • Anthony says:

    Greg,

    Awesome blog….Thanks for putting this together. It has really helped!
    I am ready to pull the trigger on TT Earthwood Evolutions (capped composite) and went to my local lumberyard; where they no longer carry TimberTech because their Distributor stopped carrying it when Azek purchased TimberTech (about a year ago).
    Have you heard anything on the TT aquisition by Azek?? Any changes to TT products or their warranty going forward??

    My local lumberyard (also my local contractor) carries Trex Transcend for capped composite and is recommending it to me.
    I’m having a hard time going with it because of everything you already pointed out (3-sided cap and potential for delimitation & mold).
    I found other blogs too, that mention about Transcend’s exposed side molding up. Here is a contractor that used to sell it & shows pics of Transcend molding up even though it was never outside, just used inside for customer display purposes.

    http://www.contractortalk.com/f50/timber-tech-azek-merger-122512/index2/

    Could I trouble you for any updates given these changes in the industry?
    Should I stay away from Transcends?

    Thanks greatly,

    Anthony

    • Thanks, Anthony!

      The TimberTech/Azek merger is a mess quite frankly. I don’t even think they know what the net result of the merger is going to be at this point and I have spoken to many people inside both companies. I would do a wait and see until the dust settles because Azek has not been a great warranty supporter while TimberTech has been stellar in the past. Knowing what I know about big business, my fear is that TimberTech’s mentality about backing up the warranty is going to be systematically eliminated or Azek will dissolve TimberTech altogether to skirt warranty claims. We’ve seen this before in the industry.

      Yes! you will probably get mold and mildew under a deck. It’s dark, damp and cool. That’s where mildew and mold thrives. It’s not terribly important to the topside of the deck and doesn’t affect anything. Heck, mildew and mold will grow on PVC (and certainly your PT frame) under the right conditions.

      We have installed acres of Transcends decking with zero issues.

      I would not give much weight to the forum post you provided. The author of that post has proven himself to be somewhat of a BS artist and does not tend to get much respect from any of the top tier deck builders across the US that I have come to trust. I believe there is an axe (or several) to grind in his case.

  • Paul says:

    Hey Greg. I was wondering what your opinion of trex transcend versus wolf tropical?

    • Hi Paul,

      We use both.

      Trex Transcends is definitely a tough board. Of all the boards we offer, it is the least likely to scratch (or show scratching) from transit, installation, and general use. Some clients love the texture and grain while others dislike it and choose something else.

      We have done about 15 projects with Wolf Tropical this year. We have had many issues with boards arriving damaged in transit to our job sites (caused by improper handling somewhere along the line). While the cap composition is supposed to be the same formulation more or less as Transcends, it seems to be easier to scratch. This could be because of the smoother surface that tends to show them more than the grainy surface of Transcends. We can’t quite pinpoint the how or why but it is something we are aware of. We have not received any complaints post installation which is the important thing.

  • Chuck Russell says:

    How much gap do you recommend where two boards meet?
    (for capped boards)

  • Chuck Russell says:

    Do you have any experience with the new Trex Select?

    • Hi Chuck,

      No…I generally do not use anything but a manufacturer’s top of the line board/rail. The price point boards are a little less expensive at face value, but generally the warranty is not as good and the savings relative to the entire project is minimal. If a client is spending $20,000 on a project, saving $400 by using a price point board versus a premium board is usually inconsequential.

      If you do the math, you will probably realize what I am getting at.

  • Sebastien Rousseau says:

    Hi Greg,

    We’re planning to have a floating deck built in Ottawa, and after reading your superb blog are thinking about going with either TTEE or Fiberon Horizon capped composite.

    My questions now:
    - As this is a floating deck with limited (at most 8″) ventilation, would you favor any of the two products?
    - What do you think of galvanized steel substructure vs PT wood? Any particular PT wood to consider (high moisture level area ratings or the like)?
    - Have you ever heard of NyloDeck composite decking boards? How would they compare to the capped composite options?

    Many thanks in advance.

    • Trex Transcends is “approved” to use on 3.5″ sleepers so you would be OK using it in this application. I think Fiberon Horizon is right on the cusp at 8″. In either case, I would get contact each manufacturer and get their approval in writing.

      We love light gauge steel frame decks and it’s the ONLY way we frame new decks. Pressure treated wood is getting worse by the delivery. We have used many different iterations of PT wood and it all seems to be very inconsistent quality and stability wise.

      I have heard of Nylodec but I haven’t used it. I believe it has good performance characteristics but is not as aesthetically pleasing as the capstock boards you are looking at. Remember, anything is better than looking at a 5 year old beat up wood deck.

  • Sebastien Rousseau says:

    I actually meant Trex Transcends Collection rather than TTEE.

  • SSH says:

    Hi Greg,

    We just had the TT Earthwoods Evolutions professionally installed and our contractor did not cover the ends of the deck boards with the fascia board, they instead mounted the fascia board below. But I don’t like that look (shame on me for not covering that detail with them prior). Do you have any suggestions on how we could cover that so that it will still maintain a nice appearance? I have seen a few (very few) pictures of ends that look like they have a small trim piece attached but I don’t find that accessory available on TimberTech’s website. Also, if I find a trim that will attach will there be issues since this deck board can contract and expand with temperature? We live in the upper midwest so extreme weather changes are definite.

    • There is a solution to your issue, but your builder should have known to do this from the get go and planned for it. Take a solid/square edge board and rip a 1″ wide piece off of both edges so you have a “nosing” of sorts. Apply a small amount of exterior adhesive (like PL400) to the end of each deck board and attach that rip along the deck edge. You will probably need to pre-drill and use small 2″ trim head screws to mechanically attach the rip to the ends of the boards.

      We do this whenever we don’t do a picture frame border and it works well.

  • Lorrie Funtleyder says:

    Hi Greg. I’ve been reading your post and I just wanted to clarify something for you. The store brands at home depot are manufactured by companies that you recommend. Fiberon manufactures the Veranda at Home Depot. And Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies manufactures both Moistureshield and ChoiceDek.

    • Hi Lorrie,

      I am well aware of that fact. The issue is that the store brands have lesser warranties and are generally not made to the same standard the professional brands are made. Also, the box stores private whatever they can bid on cheapest every year so Veranda boards can actually vary from year to year.

      The buying experience is a disaster at box stores, too.

      I do not know of any deck professionals that would remotely consider using a box store board. You get what you pay for and I am not going to marry my reputation to a box store that could care less as long as the people continue to walk in the door.

  • Johnny says:

    Very informative page, I will definitely be forwarding this to my customers who would like to do some reading on composite decking products.

    We’re a custom deck builder based in Ottawa, ON

    NewFound – Land, Fence & Decks

  • Chuck Davis says:

    Thanks for providing a great source of information. It is especially nice to see a small businessperson sharing their deep experience with folks far outside of their business footprint.

    I have an unusual and challenging (but luckily small) application, and would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.

    We have a small hut tub sitting on a slab. The slab is notched into a slight slope, with a retaining wall on two sides made of 4×4′s. I have built a 5-sided “web” of 4×4 sleepers on three sides of the hot tub, partially on the slab and partially over dirt. One side is three shallow (4″) steps going up the slope. All decking will be within 3.5″-5″ of dirt or concrete, with little or no ventilation under the deck. Even with the weird shape, none of the decking will have to span more than 12″ between sleepers. There will be a few boards 8 feet or so in length, but most will be under 4 feet long.

    We are downslope from our entire neighborhood, and the soil is clay, so our yard is extremely wet. (Improving drainage is a whole ‘nother project.) The temporary marine plywood decking I’ve got down is green with algae.

    I hope to be able to do some fine shaping and notching of the ends and edges of the deck boards around the hot tub so that the clearance between the boards and the tub is no more than 1/8″, and hopefully less.

    I was originally going to use PT pine decking (prime, kiln dried after treatment) with Camo System fasteners. Ongoing maintenance and durability were a concern in the moist setting, however. I then started looking into capped composite (DuraLife, with polypropylene composite), but became concerned about the composite absorbing moisture in my wet environment. It was from your web site that I learned about Wolf capped PVC decking, which seems like it might be a good choice due to the moisture.

    Is there a particular type/brand/line of product that you would recommend for this application?

    (There is a large deck about three feet higher than the hot tub deck, and I am still planning to use PT pine on that deck. I think that there is enough visual separation between the two decks that I can use different decking materials and try for a reasonable color match. If synthetic decking won’t be significantly “better” than PT pine in this application, however, that might bring me back around to PT pine again.)

    Thanks again.

    • Chuck,

      You definitely need to use a board such as Wolf PVC decking that is impervious to moisture penetration for your application. You might even be better with concrete pavers on that slab instead of decking.

      Your sleepers are going to get saturated quickly. Look for .060 marine grade treated lumber for that part of the construction. Another product you may want to look into are Bison deck supports. We use them quite a bit in low to grade applications.

  • Jason Lamb says:

    Hi Greg-

    This is such a great source of information.

    My wife and I will be replacing our front porch this spring/summer. I would like to know what your current recommendation is concerning materials – capped composite or PVC and what brands to go for. We are leaning towards capped composite. We have a Home Depot right in town but will not be using the Veranda “brand” on your advice. They do advertise Fiberon, Trex and Timbertech in store (is it ok to order these materials from them?) If not we have a small lumber yard/hardware store right down the street that is an Azek Authorized dealer. There is also a large lumber yard in Buffalo (45 minutes from here) that lists Rhino, Fiberon, TimberTech and GeoDeck on their wesite. And then there are all of the color options. Decision, decsions…. The front porch is covered and faces due west, so in the summertime it does get pretty hot (we can feel the heat on the backside of the front door.) And then there are the western New York winters.

    Any advice you can give is greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Jason,

      I am not a fan of PVC decking, however, for covered porch applications and depending on what color you want to use, PVC can be a good option. Direct sunlight is the killer of PVC floor boards, so having a roof over it helps. No capped composite porch flooring (Trex) has the look of traditional T&G porch flooring that a PVC board can have.

      I would not even consider boards that weren’t produced by the top five deck manufacturers. This smaller companies tend to not have the financial resources to respond to warranty claims long term. GeoDeck might be the worst deck board ever produced and yet the name still carries on for some reason no one can explain.

      You can order material through a big box store, but realize that you will pay for delivery and if you need one piece of anything, it will be a major fight to get. Plus, you have to deal with the big box system, which is not usually too efficient. Sometimes, the big box stores actually purchase special order materials from local lumberyards instead of through distribution (at full retail) and then mark it up to sell to you.

      My vote is to go where you’ll get good service.

  • Renee says:

    Needing to replace a disintegrating TREX accent deck. Filed claim with TREX and they will replace the material. We have to pay for labor (about as much as material). Even if we upgrade to TREX Transcends, we hesitate using TREX again. We have read so…. many reviews on TREX and TimberTech and how they still have mold and mildew issues. We need to do this deck this year (2014) and can’t wait to see what happens between Azek and TimberTech. Please advise us of your current favorite product. Thanks in advance and very informative.

    • Hi Renee,

      Trex Accents was a certifiable disaster. There is no doubt about it.

      We have installed a TON of Trex Transcends and have had ZERO issues with it. In fact, it is one of the most consistent boards we use in terms of not having defects upon delivery like scratches and warpage. I have no reservations using it and many of my colleagues ONLY install Trex Transcends.

      See my other post from today regard Azek and TimberTech.

      If you are getting free material from Trex, then by all means, use Trex Transcends.

  • Dan Kaufman says:

    Hey Greg,

    Great articles! I am building a deck this spring and I have narrowed done to Trex, Fibron, and Timbertech. The 3-side cap on Trex bothers me a little based on your information, but Fibron doesn’t have the extensive color choices. I plan to do dry space under the deck, so not being able to clean mildew and mold on the underside make me weary. Is that a valid concern?

    I was leaning against Timbertech because of the merger. Do you have any more information how the Timbertech merger has played out?

    Thanks again! Great information.

    • Hi Dan,

      I have been cautious with both Azek and TimberTech products since the CPG acquisition. From what I have seen, CPG is letting both companies remain intact for the most part and function business as usual. They have consolidated sales reps and have made some minor product changes for the better.

      TimberTech, in particular, has always been an excellent, trustworthy company to deal with and from what I have seen over the past year, that has not changed. While I am not a fan of ANY PVC decking at this point, I am comfortable using TimberTech’s Earthwoods line. They have changed the graining for the better this year and we will most likely end up installing a fair amount of it.

  • DMG says:

    I have a 6 year old deck with a product called Elk Cross Timbers. It is a terrible product and the company (GAF) that bought it out does not make or sell it anymore. I am sure because of all the complaints. It has numerous problems, but my biggest one is the amount of chalking. I could sweep for years and it would never stop sending huge amounts dusty particles of itself into the air. The color was supposed to be a light cedar and now has a peachy tint to it. It is always on our shoes, if children sit on it they are covered in it and it is always on my floors when we enter the house. After the first year of install we stained the top of the railing with a non transparent stain that can be used on wood or composite It has worked well on that. My question is about doing something similar on the deck floor. Would stain stick given the amount of chalking dust and would it scratch like crazy since it kind of like a paint/stain mix.

    • At this point, I would think you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying a sealer.

      GAF generally has very good warranty programs for their products. Have you tried entering a claim with them?

  • DMV says:

    Hi Greg,
    Thanks for keeping this thread going! An extremely informative view from a PROFESSIONAL.
    It’s decking season again for us. We are building a deck roughly 18×24 with steps (top to bottom 8feet), lighting and seating. Needless it’s a pretty big project that we want to take time to do right the first time – we can’t afford to do it over.

    We held off last summer due to some concerns about PVC decking and the fading that folks have mentioned here.

    Any updated thoughts on composites like trex transcends, timber tech earth wood or fiberon horizon? Wolf capped?
    Or other thoughts on decking in general after the brutal winter season in the East coast?

    • We use all four of the boards you mentioned without reservation. As long as you stay in that family, any will serve you well. Make your decision based on what you like aesthetically.

  • Bill says:

    Hi Greg,
    I too am extremely grateful for the EXCELLENT information that you have provided in this post!!

    I am re-decking an existing 18 x 12 deck and am choosing between Trex Transcend and Timbertech Earthwood Evolutions Legacy options. In regards to the hidden fastening systems, I have a friend that seemed to have problems with the Timbertech fasteners not allowing the boards to align properly (especially on longer boards). I’ve also read about this same issue online, folks saying the screwhead of the fastener getting in the way of the next board being installed.

    Have you experienced any issues with the Timbertech fasteners? Also, which of the two Trex fasteners would you recommend should I decide to go with Trex?

    Thanks!!

    Bill

    • Hi Bill,

      Either board will serve you well. We use thousands of ConceaLoc fasteners without issue either using the pneumatic tools or by hand drive. The boards are generally spaced by contacting the heads of the screws, NOT the tabs on the clips. It is usually pretty foolproof.

      The ONLY fastener we use on Trex boards are the Universal Fasteners as the metal clips are not reliable due to the profile of the groove on Trex boards.

  • Renee says:

    Hi Greg,

    Sent you a msg. on 3/12/14. At that time we didn’t know TREX would give us a cash settlement. So, now we can go with any material.

    We are replacing a disintegrating TREX Accent deck. Filed a claim and received a small cash settlement. We were looking at XLM and Azek PVC. You and another contractor said you would Not use PVC because of fading. We are questioning if we should use PVC. I emailed the other contractor and he says, “PVC is not bad, he just would not use it. It does not always fad. Lots of people use it.”

    Do you still feel the same way about PVC? Should we go with Timbertech Earthwood Evolutions.

    Thanks again,
    Renee

  • Hi Renee,

    All I can tell you is that I have had very few positive experiences with PVC deck boards–enough that I won’t touch the stuff unless there is some very strong technical reason that I can’t use a capped composite on.

    “Lots of people use it”…haha…Yes. Typically general contractors or kitchen and bath contractors that install whatever the lumberyard is selling that day in my experience. I cannot think of too many deck contractors that don’t have extreme reservations about installing it because of bad experiences.

    Earthwood Evolutions is decent. The new Legacy line is better in my opinion that the predecessor because it is more tolerate of scuffing and scratches.

    I know you are anti-Trex, but I just had to go and replace a rail cap made from a Transcends deck board that is in full sun all day. The board was 3 years old. I put it right next to the brand new piece of material. There is NO fading. None. Zero. I couldn’t believe it

    Thanks,

    Greg.

    • Roxanne Peterson says:

      my contractor will install any earthwood evolutions lines at the same price, while i prefer a color in the Terrain line, you mention Legacy’s line has improved scratch resistance, is it a lot better than terrain so that i should reconsider the colors in Legacy.

      • Hi Roxanne,

        There is a BIG price difference between Terrain and Legacy boards so I would verify that your contractor is aware of this and is not making an error that will come back to haunt you.

        Legacy is new and we have not installed it yet but it looks like a good board. If you are going to pay the same price, then by all means, go with the Legacy unless you get a discount for using Terrain as it’s almost half the cost!

  • kevin boerner says:

    Hi Greg,
    Thanks for all the great information. I am however a little confused about your opinion of Trex Transcend. At the beginning of this “blog” you make the comment that it’s laminate is suspect, also stating:

    ” While Transcends has a very nice deep grain in the cap, there are some things about Transcends that worries me as a deck builder. The cap does not encapsulate the entire board leaving the entire underside exposed to moisture. Also, the cap does not seem to be laminated as well as other manufacturers are doing it. In fact, I have seen boards come right off the truck with the capstock delaminating and peeling off.”

    These statements seem to be in contradiction with your continual recommendation of the Trex Transcends throughout the remainder of your “blog”. I am in the process of getting a quote from a Trex Platinum installer. Concerned about spending close to $20,000 on a product that “worries” you. One comment I got from the a reputable installer was that having the board not completely encapsulated, allows for the board to expand/contract(in a good way).
    Can you comment on this?

    Thank You,
    Kevin

    • Hi Kevin,

      You are 100% correct. When I initially penned this blog article, capped composites were the new kids on the block and somewhat unproven. We have ONLY been installing capped composites for at least the last three years now and have had no appreciable issues with the major brands. In fact, Trex Transcends has become one of our favorites. We have had NO issues whatsoever with it and I have not heard of any failures from any of my colleagues around the country.

      I would install Trex Transcends in a heartbeat. In fact, we are installing it on two jobs today!

  • Johnny b says:

    Have you heard anything about Yakima comfort plus deck veneer I’m installing a 4000 linear ft deck and found this product on build direct .com let me know what u think of it as it is only a 1.00 a linear ft…..thx so much

  • Ryan says:

    Hi Greg,

    I had a large deck installed in early 2012 with Azek slate grey. All of the deck that is in direct sunlight was faded by the end of the summer. Now less than 2 years later it is almost completely white but still grey in the shaded areas. I have researched online products that are available and some manufacturers recommend the DeckMax restorer. However this product is upwards of 100 dollars a gallon. It seems excessive in price and also makes me wonder if one of the pvc decking manufacturers has a stake in this company. I was wondering if you know of another product that could restore the appearance of the deck that could be bought at a reasonable price at one of the box stores? I imagine this stuff is only temporary and will have to be applied once a year or so. I have tested a small area with some Thompsons water seal and it did bring back the color but I am concerned if it could actually damage the decking in the long run. Do you have any experience with PVC deck restoration? It really is a shame I have to ask questions like this after spending 15 grand on a new deck less than two years ago.

    Thanks, Ryan

    • Hi Ryan,

      Sorry to hear about your issues with PVC decking. You are not in an unfamiliar situation unfortunately.

      This is reason we have stopped and will no longer install any PVC decking.

      DeckMax does work well, however it is like ArmorAll in the sense that it’s not permanent and it is very expensive. You should contact Azek and file a warranty claim. They should, at very least, supply you with DeckMax.

      Greg

  • bill414 says:

    Hi Greg,

    I’m here to ask a question about installing the composite fasica boards around the edges of the deck. I will be installing railing posts inside the outer joists with carriage bolts. Since the heads of the carriage bolts will be on the outside of the joists, how do you go about installing the fascia board over the joist? The only thing I can think of is “notching out” the fascia board in the area where each bolt head will be.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    Bill.

    • Hi Bill,

      No need to do anything. The bolt heads should suck in enough to be only slight proud. You can run the fascia right over them and it is not a big deal. If you really want to get crazy, you can countersink the bolt heads with a paddle bit before you install them, but it is usually not necessary.

      Greg

  • Dan says:

    I am trying to decide between Fiberon Horizon decking and the Trex product. Please help! Which do you prefer and why? Also, I notice that the Fiberon brochure offers a square edge and a grooved edge? Any info would be appreciated.

    • Hi Dan,

      We install both boards all the time without reservation. It boils down to the which aesthetic you like better. Either will serve you very well from my experience. If anything, I feel that the cap on Transcends is more scratch resistant but I have never had a complaint with Fiberon Horizon.

      Both also come in grooved and square edge boards, so that’s a tie, too.

  • Hello Greg,
    I am replacing my front porch and entry steps. I like the look of Wolf’s Mahogany Capped composite board but am worried that the very thin layer of the capping will not be able to hold up in this high traffic area. At one point you liked the Wolf capped composite but then later said you questioned the quality of the product after receiving damaged materials for a job. What is the best manufactured product for my porch and steps that will take the abuse without chipping and wearing quickly? Or should I use real wood like Cumura or IPE?

    • Hi Angela,

      If its’ just the steps and you are really worried about abuse, then I would recommend Trex Transcends. It has proven to be the toughest board and cap that we have used. Wolf is pretty durable, but the cap is thinner than Transcends.

      I used to have Ipe steps on my own house and while they didn’t get scratched too badly, they required oiling every year if not twice yearly because the color wore out in the high traffic areas quickly.

      • Ted Baker says:

        Hi Greg,

        I am planning to replace my old deck with a capped composite. I am considering Trex and Wolf, but I am confused about Wolf. At one place on their website it says their Island Collection is a Strandex core with a HDPE cap, another place it says a composite core with a Surlyn cap, and another place it says a PVC core with a ASA cap. Do you know which is correct and does it make a difference?

        Also I have recently seen a product called DuraLife Siesta highly recommended. It is apparently a polypropylene/wood composite with a cap of some sort. Do you have any knowledge or opinion on this product.

        Ted

      • Hi Ted,

        The Wolf Island Collection is both, they are just interchanging proprietary names of plastic products. The PVC core with ASA cap is NOT the Wolf Island collection. That is referring to their PVC collection.

        DuraLife Siesta is a good board with a proven track record. The company has been bought and sold a number of times over the years and it always struggle for a foothold of marketshare.

        Warranties are only good if the companies are around long enough to honor them!

  • bill414 says:

    Hi Greg,

    Do you have any opinion regarding the railing systems offered by Trex, Timbertech, or Fiberon? Do these railings resist fading and do they require any special maintenance ongoing? Right now I’m considering the Trex Reveal product line. The railings are going to cost as much as the decking so I figured I’d better look into the pros/cons of each.

    Thanks for all the great information!

    Bill.

  • Hafiz says:

    I just called Veranda’s number on their website and Fiberon answerer. Fiberson says they manufacture the Veranda deck boards. Does that change your opinion re: Veranda?

  • Phil says:

    Hi Greg

    Thanks for all your insight. After removing my above ground pool, I decided to modify my wood deck and extend my balcony which is in cement. Therefore part of it is in cement and part of it is in wood. The size will be exactly 16X16. I plan to finish it with trex or fibre on planks of 16 feet. I’m not sure on how to build the base on the cement to install the 16 feet planks as part will be on wood joist and the other will be on cement. What kind off base should I use? 2x4x16 treated wood screwed directly on the cement balcony extending on existing wood joists? Is it high enough from the cement? Will the humidity or water cause the base to rot as the water will certainly take mare time to dry up since it will remain wet under the boards? Should I use something else as a base on the cement?

    Thanks

  • Hi Greg – I read your response on nov 22,.2013 regarding trim for the ends of deck boards..If you fasten a strip across several boards, is it possible that the strip will eventually work loose because of the gaps between the boards and the movement (expansion and contraction) of the boards? I appreciate all of the work you put into this blog. It has been very informative and helpful. Jerry

    • Hi Jerry,

      Thanks for your appreciation!

      We have never had an issue with separation. We use mechanical fasteners AND adhesive. Remember that the nosing is pretty flexible and the boards are usually expanding and contracting in unison.

      • Jerry Plante, Lexington, VA says:

        Thanks for the information, Greg. I have one more question. I forgot to mention that we are using Trex Transcend capped composite boards with both sides grooved.and fastened with Universal Fasteners. Therefore there is a 1/4 inch gap between the boards. We will rip an inch off each side of a square board to cover the ends of the deck boards. In one area where the boards end we will have a 15 foot strip covering the ends of 30 boards. What spacing would you recommend for the trim head screws? Would one screw at the end of each board be sufficient, or should we use two or possibly three screws on each end? Thanks again for your help. Jerry

      • Usually one trim head screw per board in the center is more than enough. Predrill and countersink slightly. Depending on the temperature, sometimes you can use 15 gauge finish nails in lieu of screws.

  • Susan Lindeman says:

    Hi, Greg -

    We are getting ready to build a deck on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. It will be low to the ground (no more than 18″) and we don’t want to break the bank on it. It’s a casual weekend home – we don’t want to go as high end as PVC, but can you recommend a good direction to go? It will be approximately 16′x20′. I have also looked at the South American hardwoods, but they recommend at least 18″ of clear space below the joists, which will put us higher than we want/need to be. There are so many options, and so much info out there that it’s overwhelming. Thanks!

  • ceeg3061 says:

    Hi Greg…Great forum. Would you have any reservations about purchasing Trex Transcend from Lowes? They told me it was a special order. I’m concerned about some of the comments regarding how the big box stores purchase their materials. Thanks in advance for your help.

    • If buying from Lowes is your only resource, then use them. If you have any alternative retailer to purchase from like a professional lumberyard, I would.

      You will get better service from a lumberyard. You will probably get better pricing and free delivery. Most professional lumberyards stock Trex so you can return extra material or purchase a few extra boards if you come up short. You lose all of that by purchasing from a big box.

  • tomimac says:

    Hi Greg:

    Thanks for your great website.

    I have a question for you.

    Can I use decks crews for fastening capped composite boards directly to the joists WITHOUT using the special side screws?

    In other words, the screws would go vertically throughout the capped composite and into the joists and the recessed heads would be visible.

    Will this harm the capped composite boards?

    Or just not look as finished as the hidden screws?

    Thanks in advance for your answer.

    Tom

  • tomimac says:

    Hi Greg:

    Thanks for the quick response.

    You wrote: “Go Nuts”
    I am already Nuts !!! LOL

    I was concerned that the surface screws might let water get passed the cap and into the composite material.

    I assume that you are saying that this will not happen? Is that Right ???

    I tend to worry about things like this.

    Thanks,

    Tom

  • Mike says:

    Hi Greg,
    This blog contains some great information. In discussions with a decking contractor, he mentioned an alternative decking supplier that has not been mentioned in this blog. The company is Palram and the product line is paldeck. The decking is a fully encapsulated PVC board with a proprietary “Encapsa” cap. After reading the information above, I understand your feelings regarding PVC, but I was wondering if either you or others in the industry have any infromation on the compacy or the product.

    Thanks for your help through this blog!

    Mike

    • Hi Mike,

      The PVC train left town a long time ago. I am boggled by new companies that keep springing up with new PVC offerings that claim to have found some different technology that’s better than all the predecessors. The largest deck companies with abundant R & D resources have been plagued by recurring issues with PVC deck boards.

      I would steer clear of any PVC boards–especially anything new to market from a company that might not be here next year.

  • jeanne gentile says:

    Just received a delivery of TT Evolutions capped composite in pacific walnut. I was disappointed with capping as it has a slight unevenness on board top and along board edge( slight pucker)-not anything blistering but not completely smooth. Rep from distributor from lumber yard I purchased it from is wiling to take it back but feels I am overly fussy. Is this the nature of Evolutions capped composite as I have notice this on same of their small samples. He suggested Azek PVC which I was considering but now after reading your blog feel it is not the way to go. Thinking of using Trex Transcends . Just very worried about decision

    • Hi Jeanne,

      Without seeing it myself, it’s hard to say however you may have an unreasonable expectation for what the boards are supposed to look like. You said the sample you saw looked similar. If it was a defect, the chances of it being on a sample (run at a different time) is remote.

      Don’t use PVC. I repeat. Don’t use PVC.

      Greg

      • John says:

        Greg,
        What a great source of information! Than-you for providing. I came cross another product today that seems o be what I am looking for. It is called NyloBoard. Apparently uses recycled carpet s the filler in the core vs. wood flour. Have a sample and is very similar to other composites and is about the same price as similar Trex and Timbertech. Will be used in the South around a pool.

        Any thoughts?

      • Hi John,

        Nyloboard seems to be gaining traction in the industry. I have not personally used it, but I do know a few colleagues that have used at the request of their clients and have not heard any horror stories. Sorry I don’t have any more info for you at this point.

      • John says:

        Greg,
        Once again thanks for the response on the Nyloboard. I plan to have my composite deck installed using screws. Any recommendations? I would like to use the colored heads in gray if there are screws that are ok. One contractor says the only problem they see is there is a 5-10% rate of breakage in most of their applications. I am not sure if this breakage is in pre-drill applications or not. Of course I would prefer no pre-drill due to labor savings. Any thoughts/recommendations are appreciated.

  • Nina says:

    No question. Just to say tanks for valuable and seemingly knowledgeable and unbiased information. I’ve been researching what materials to use and your site helped me great deal. Foremost, installed a high doze od confidence in my decision making. Much appreciated. Keep up the good work.

  • Patrick says:

    Hi Greg,

    Awesome info here!! Short question – What is the difference between Trex Transcend and Trex Enhance? Both carry the same warranties. I’ve looked at the specs/physical and mechanical property sheet and they appear to be identical. Is there something I’m missing? Are the colors the only difference? Enhance is $40 per 16′ and Transcends is $60-65 per 16′ board. You think very highly of Transcends, but we’re installing a 1800 square foot deck and the the cost savings by using enhance would be substantial. Thoughts?

    Thanks in advance for the reply!!
    -Patrick

    • Patrick,

      One thing to remember is that the warranty is different between the two Trex boards AND…here’s the biggie…The Enhance boards are narrower and thus require more boards per square foot than Transcends. Trex doesn’t seem to advertise that gem and it’s a difference that adds up.

      • Patrick says:

        Thanks Greg! According to Trex’s site, the transcend and enhance boards are the same dimensions (1″x5.5″), and carry the same warranty (limited 25yr and 25 stain/fade). The Trex select line has different dimensions and different warranty. Or, is Trex’s site outdated or incorrect?

        Thanks!

      • Hi Patrick,

        I think you could be correct. I may have been thinking of the Trex Select line. I believe the cost difference in the Enhance line comes from a slightly thinner cap and the limited color palette.

        We only use Transcends because most people are married to the colors that line offers and are willing to spend the money for them.

      • Patrick says:

        Ok, thanks for the help Greg!

  • C Volk says:

    Greg, I wanted to say thanks for your service with this site. Based on your comments, we went with timbertech evolutions pacific rosewood. My husband is retired from construction (mostly commercial) and had done perhaps 2 decks with traditional composite but this was a bit different using the hidden fasteners, how to best rip boards and deal with a bit of shoddy work from when my house was originally built (before him). We had decided while replacing doors and windows that it looked like a good time to also replace the deck. He rose to the occasion, the deck is beautiful and I am looking forward to no more sealing, no more pounding popped nails back in every spring, no more warped railings and no more driving my shoulder through my backbone when trying to shovel a severely warped deck! Thanks again. I feel confident we made the right product decision based on your information. (and timbertech has really been a joy to deal with!). Next year the 2nd floor doors and deck!

  • Greg,

    Thanks for the great information you provide on this site. I need to replace my 5 year old composite decking (I think the product was called Evergrain?) due to both product & installation issues. It is a north-facing deck, and we get a fair amount of tree debris falling on it (especially this time of year, as it’ll collect lots of leaves). Trying to determine the right product is challenging! Right now, I am evaluating using one of the following, and would greatly appreciate your opinion on the pros & cons of each of these:

    - Timbertech’s Earthwood Evolutions Legacy
    - Trex Transends
    - Tigerwood Hardwood

    While cost is certainly a major consideration, low maintenance & high durability are also extremely important.

    We’re also going to be installing an under-deck system, and wanted to know if you had an opinion regarding the best options.

    Wish you had a branch office in St. Louis!

    Thanks!

    Craig

    • Hi Craig,

      Your TimberTech or Trex options would be suitable for your project. Any premium capped composite like those brands and lines will serve you well.

      I would avoid Tigerwood or any hardwood. They definitely look nice, but require a significant amount of ongoing maintenance to keep looking reasonably good. With a capped composite, all you have to do is wash it occasionally whereas with hardwood, you’ll have to wash it, then sand it (possibly), then re-oil or stain it.

      Underdeck systems can be daunting. There are systems that keep the joists dry by installing OVER the joists and systems that allow water to get into the joist system and drain from below. I tend to like the dry joist systems since they allow installation of lighting and nicer ceiling finishes than a wet joist system like TimberTech Dryspace.

      If you have a lot of debris hitting the deck, realize that you will need to flush the drainage system occasionally to make sure you don’t get damming and clogs, so plan your decking installing accordingly.

  • Greg says:

    HI Craig,

    This forum is great — I’ve got a major deck project that faces South — so has sun (live in CA) all day. I’m at 2000 ft up so in winter, we’ll get a dusting of snow. But I still think the sun is the most challengeing. I had settled on Azek — and then at the last minute had to switch contractors and the new guy says he’s not impressed with 100% PVC. He installed it at his mother’s place and it started bending in 5 years and had to be replaced. It wasn’t Azek — but a 100% PVC option. He likes Horizon Fiberon. The deck is raised — not near water — although we do get a fair amount of rain in winter here. Fiberon is about 25% cheaper than Azek. Is Horizon Fiberon a safe option — or is the increased price for Azek well spent money?

    Greg

    • We have abandoned PVC decking (see posts below) in favor of capped composite decking like Fiberon Horizon due to performance issues like you have mentioned. Seeing what I have seen, I would not install PVC on your project.

  • Jim says:

    Greg,

    Great info. I am planning on installing a pool deck next spring in the Chicago area and was leaning toward Azek or XLM, because I thought the PVC products would be best in a pool environment. Now I am pretty convinced to go the route of capped composite, after reading so much in regards to fading and chalking of PVC. Do you have an opinion of which manufacturer would be best for a pool deck? I have seen Trex Transcends and TImbertech Evolutions, but am open to other suggestions as well.

    Thanks,
    Jim

  • Laura says:

    Greg We trying to have a new dock constructed on a lake in North Carolina. It will face south and west in burning sun. Every dock contractor has a different material, plus the dock decking is then installed on wood and wood pilings. For that reason, we were going to go with a grey so it would all eventually blend together like an aged deck.
    The contractor we chose will use Wolf: Its website states:
    Seaside Collection
    For cool coastal tones to warm summer sands
    New for 2014, the Seaside Collection features WOLF PVC Decking in the best waterside shades. Sand Castle and Harbor Grey are perfect for your waterside dock or your beach getaway.
    Made with ASA capstock resin, WOLF PVC Decking is designed for superior weatherability under prolonged exposure to sun and weather, meaning your Seaside Collection deck can withstand intense storms and the hot sun.
    Features:
    ASA capstock resin retain color under prolonged exposure to sun and weather
    Cool, coastal tones
    Compatible with traditional and hidden fasting systems, including color-matched Cortex hidden fasteners
    1” x 5/12” deck boards available in 12′, 16′ and 20′ lengths
    Rimboard available in 7/16” x 11 3/4” x 12′
    ICC code approved – CCRR-0141
    Limited Lifetime Warranty

    Now, after we chose a contractor and informed the others, one of the more expensive
    and very very hard sell contractors is claiming his Fiberon is better and not capstock and just sent us this emal in part: .
    “We quoted Fiberon full PVC not cap stock which is the best and longest lasting decking material on the market. Versus Wolf, Trex or another decking company that will not supply full PVC as requested.”

    Is he right?
    Is “capstock resin” a “capped” PVC?
    Or is it a resin made out of stuff used to make capstock?
    We just want pure PVC that works and doesn’t stain, peel, bend or fall apart! Is that too much to ask??

    Every company seems to have had litigation from poorly made products and this is going to be incredibly expensive and now very worrisome.

    The third contractor swears by Azek and says all his docks still look great,
    But we have it on our townhouse community up north and where it meets with wood it all bends and then the homes leak.
    The Azek also has had to be painted because it is white and stains just from dirty rain, and so we are very disappointed in it.

    What the heck material should we use?
    I;m sure our selected contractor will use whatever material we want and just change the pricing.

    Thanks so much.

    Soon to be Southern Gal

    • Laura,

      Your head must be spinning right now.

      I am not a fan of any PVC board. I use capped composites because I feel they perform better and address all of the shortcomings that PVC boards continue to have. Fiberon’s PVC board is new. I have not seen it but their bread and butter is capped composite and has been for years. We have used Fiberon Horizon with great results however we are not building docks.

      PVC’s advantage is that it is essentially submersible and impervious to moisture absorption (composites are not–they absorb water and can swell). On a dock, PVC might be a better long term choice but you should realize that there is no perfect solution–a dock is tough environment. A PVC board will never degrade but it might fade or have chalking issues down the road. The key here is to minimize the chances of that from happening.

      Wolf’s PVC board has an ASA cap (with no PVC in it). ASA is expensive therefore many manufacturers use a blend to keep costs down. Wolf uses 100% ASA which is much less prone to fading than PVC. They are putting a 100% ASA cap over a PVC core. If I had to use a PVC board for some reason, that’s the one I would go with. Azek and TimberTech both offer capped PVC deck boards but they use PVC/ASA blends in the cap and the PVC part of the blend generally is the root of all problems.

      There’s a reason 99% of the PVC (aka vinyl) in the building material world is WHITE. PVC wants to be white. Trying to make it stay dark colors for long under UV light is tough to do chemically. Think of all the white vinyl railings and fences you see around…

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