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PVC vs Composite

posted on Monday, September 25, 2023 in Blog

Composite decking is basically a combination of recycled wood pulp and recycled plastic. More specifically, it uses high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a type of plastic commonly used to make grocery bags, milk jugs, buckets, and detergent bottles. The ratio of wood to plastic varies depending on the brand.

Plastic may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to decking material, but composite decking has truly revolutionized outdoor construction. Since its introduction, this type of artificial decking has made the dream of building an outdoor gathering space more affordable and accessible for homeowners than ever before.

Compared to natural wood, the plastic in composite decking makes it more resistant to moisture and insects. It also allows for greater style variation – you can choose a custom color and wood grain to match the aesthetic of your home. That brings us to composite’s first major advantage over PVC. Because it does contain wood pulp, composite decking can look more natural.

When the temperature changes suddenly, PVC decking can expand and contract. This makes the structure less stable over time. But because the wood fibers in composite decking make it more rigid, it won’t expand and contract as easily as plastic in direct sunlight.

In summary, the main advantages composite has over PVC are:

  • More authentic looking
  • Less prone to expansion and contraction caused by temperature changes
  • Less expensive
  • 16” on center joists.
  • More recycled products

Like composite, PVC is made from artificial materials. But instead of being a mix of wood and plastic, PVC decking is 100% plastic. Like composite, it was designed to minimize maintenance and prevent common problems associated with wood, such as mold and insect infestations.

Easily customizable, PVC can be made to mimic the color of more expensive wood decking options, such as mahogany, ipe, and redwood.

The first big advantage of PVC decking is that it’s 100% recyclable. When a composite deck reaches the end of its lifespan (25 years or more), it’s doomed to end up in a landfill. But plastic decks can be refinished or recycled, giving them new life once their equally long-life ends.

Another perk of PVC is mold resistance. Now, we’ve already mentioned that both PVC and composite are resistant to mold. But because composite still contains wood, PVC is the undisputed winner in this category. No organic content means that mold and mildew have nowhere to go.

Finally, PVC is a more lightweight material. This makes it easier to transport and work with, so you can install it pretty much anywhere at any height. With PVC being a lighter and less dense board, it will also have better heat dissipation than the denser composite board.

In summary, the main advantages PVC has over composite are:

  • 100% recyclable
  • Longer warranties
  • More resistant to mold
  • Lighter weight
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