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There are threetypes of composite decking material: polyethylene-based, polypropylene-based and non wood plastics. Oil-based polyethylene and polypropylene composite decking contain some wood.The industry seems to be moving away from polyethylene-based composites to focus on the polypropylene-based product (which is typically stronger and less susceptible to expansion and compression) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-based product.These plastics have no wood content, do not stain or absorb water.Technology is enabling manufacturers to give all these composites a look and feel that approximates real wood.

The color and desired textures of the deck, where the deck is located and how the deck will be used will help narrow down which the best product. Some of the big manufacturers are ChoiceDeck, EON, Epoch Evergrain, Trex and Veranda.The industry is evolving,with efforts being made to eliminate some of the strain, fading and mold issues that composite decking has been known for. Here are details on some of the products:

  • EON is 100 percent plastic. The manufacturer uses ultraviolet light inhibitors to eliminate fading.The product has a T-clip to fasten the decking, not nails or screws, giving the finished deck a clean look.
  • Evergrain looks more like wood than other compression decking, thanks to use of compression molding to form the product,giving it a deep grain.
  • ChoiceDek's polyethylene and recycled wood decking is lighter and stiffer than some others because of a ribbed design that allows more air circulation between the decking and framing.
  • Many decking companies offer hidden fasteners that are easy to install.Latitudes Composite Decking uses a hidden fastener system that automatically spaces boards with the proper gap.


Low maintenance decking has come a long way over the last few years. There are over 100 products currently on the market.The obvious advantage of alternative materials over wood is that it doesn't require staining and sealing. Most low maintenance materials are sold with a warranty as a safeguard against problems. There are a variety of colors,textures, and hidden fastening systems.

There are only two types ofcomp-osite decking on the market:solidand hollow.Solid looks more like wood and is heavier than the hollow version.Because of its greater mass, solid decking will expand and contract more with temperature fluctuations. Hollow composite decking has a more man-made look.How- ever, it won't expand and contract as much as solid composite decking.You need to be careful when handling it,though, because it's more susceptible to damage before it's installed. Solid composite decking is more popular because of its superior strength and closer resemblance to real wood.