What’s the difference between composite decks and synthetic decks in Columbus?

Archadeck of Columbus explains the difference in composite and synthetic decking materials.

Granville OH TimberTech decks
This Granville, OH deck was built using TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions which is a capped PVC product – beautiful.

The scope of outdoor structure materials has broadened in recent years to reflect a constant evolution of new technology. These products are built with longevity, convenience and beauty in mind. You may have heard the terms “composite” and “synthetic” used when referring to these materials. Many homeowners think these products are one and the same which is not the case. Composites and synthetics do include some of the same characteristics and benefits but are actually quite different. Archadeck of Columbus is here to explain the differences in our quest to help homeowner better understand each product and place a face with the name.

Powell OH TimberTech XLM Harvest Bronze with TimberTech Radiance rail
This deck in Powell ,OH is built with TimberTech XLM Harvest Bronze with TimberTech Radiance rail

What is the difference between composite and synthetic?

Composite is a general term for the original form of low-maintenance decking. Some builders also use the technical term when referring to composites- which is wood plastic composites, or WPC. Composites came onto the scene in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Composites are made up of wood pulp that is combined with plastic which is often derived from recycled plastic. This combination of wood pulp and plastic is used to create this low-maintenance decking material. The wood plastic composite is a great product but is one that we rarely sell anymore. Even though WPC’s don’t require staining or painting, they do need to be kept clean in order to be keep them looking and functioning their best. A good comparison of what can happen to a wood composite deck is to look at what an ignored leaf can do to a concrete driveway if it is not removed promptly. This is the same thing that can happen with your WPC deck if it is not kept clean. Since we are dealing with products that are outside in the elements on a daily basis, composite needs to be checked for any debris or dirt on a regular basis. WPC is still a great product to use on or in your outdoor structure design, but the growing trend is leaning toward more homeowners choosing synthetic over composite nowadays.

Azek Brownstone
This deck was built with AZEK in brownstone from their harvest color collection.

Synthetic decking materials encompass products that contain PVC. This can be a product that is built using solid PVC or capped (wrapped) with PVC. PVC or (poly vinyl chloride) is a product that is free of any wood. These decking products, known as the second generation of decking materials, came onto the scene about a decade ago. Pro-cell was the original PVC manufactures which was later purchased by AZEK ,which specialized in PVC trim used around homes. PVC products deliver the ultimate in low maintenance characteristics, but are generally at the higher end price point. Cost for synthetics can vary depending on the color, pattern and amount of streaking and undulation present. In general, the formulation of synthetic is very expensive and especially the synthetics that contain emulated natural wood details. Among the leader in solid PVC decking is of course, AZEK, but Fiberon and many other manufacturers are offering solid PVC along with their capstock and WPC lines.

TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions Teak with Walnut Border
This deck uses two shades of the Earthwood Evolutions tropical line, Teak and Walnut, to add more visual interest to this stunning deck.

One of the newest synthetics is a composite wrapped in PVC. This product is often referred to as capstock decking. The advantages of both solid PVC and wrapped PVC products include reducing the amount of maintenance required by the homeowner, and more specifically a decrease in the amount of cleaning required to keep the deck looking new. Capped composites, or capstock include Trex Transcends and TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions. Most synthetic manufacturers stand behind their product with a 25 year warranty. Based on Archadeck of Columbus’ experience with these synthetic products, my belief is that many of these products will outlast their warranties by many years. The only downfall we have seen with PVC products is due to the elasticity of the material it will sometimes expand during the hotter days of the summer.

This TimberTech deck and outdoor fireplace by Archadeck of Columbus is the perfect spot for entertaining.

In terms of price, composites are the least expensive and generally speaking a capped composite will be less expensive than a pure PVC product. TimberTech Twin Finish and Reliaboard are among some of the wood plastic composites that are available, but we recommend using a capped PVC product in most circumstances. The technology behind WPC has gotten better since their debut, but they still require lots of care and cleaning. Most all of the synthetic manufacturers are now in a stage of tweaking their color choices to offer a wider selection for homeowners to choose from. This includes more colors that contain streaking and undulation that mimics the beauty of natural wood. The technology behind making a stronger more resilient board is also improving.

Hopefully this information will quell any confusion about the differences between composite and synthetic. Our goal here at Archadeck of Columbus is to provide you with all the information you need to make the best decision when choosing the material that bests suits your needs and budget for your new outdoor structure.

Michael Reeder, Archadeck of Columbus
Michael Reeder, Archadeck of Columbus

If you are ready to create an outdoor living space that will provide more time for enjoyment and less time focusing on maintaining your space, contact Archadeck of Columbus. We can help you choose the best decking material for you! Contact us today for a free consultation (740) 879 – 3730- Email westcolumbus@archadeck.net

You can see more examples of composite and synthetic decks by visiting our decks photo gallery and our  composite and PVC decks photo gallery located on our website.

Don’t underestimate the power of color when designing your Columbus, OH deck.

There is more to choosing the perfect color palette for your new deck or outdoor space than meets the eye. Archadeck of Columbus emphasizes the importance of choosing the right color in order to get the most enjoyment from your space.

Columbus OH Timbertech deck in Sandridge
This deck is built using TimberTech decking in the Sandridge color. Not only does the color choice work with the colors of the home beautifully, it stays cooler because it is a lighter color. This is a good color if your deck faces south or west and receives a good deal of sun.

Color is an amazing thing. Not only does color effect our visual perception of an object or space, it can also affect our mood and even our health. Choosing the right color or combination of colors, for your deck or outdoor space is important. Many times so much thought is put into the shape, size and location of your deck that choosing the color seems like an afterthought. Choosing the right hue can impact not only how you view your outdoor space, it can also impact the amount of enjoyment you get out of your structure as well.

TimberTech River Rock color deck Columbus
River Rock is a TimberTech color which appeals to homeowners looking for a gray or taupe color for their deck.

Once you have chosen a contractor for your outdoor structure, hopefully they have helped provide suggestions on color choices. I know not having the tools and knowledge available to make an informed color choice can become frustrating. My wife and I are in the process of selecting colors for our new interior carpet and the miniscule 1 x 1 samples on carpet boards make it difficult to make a solid choice. Much can be said with other aspects of color selections within the interior and exterior of your home. Who invented those tiny paint chips anyway?

In this business, when it comes to decking materials, synthetics are a great product. Unfortunately, many synthetics offer only a limited number of color choices. Even though the biggest and best names such as AZEK and TimberTech introduce new color selections each year, they are still limited to maybe 8-12 choices at any given time. This makes choosing the right color a little more complicated. In order to get the most out of your outdoor investment we recommend taking certain factors into consideration when making your color selection.

TimberTech Earthwoods deck Columbus, OH
This TimberTech Earthwoods deck combines contrast through the white railings, and the decking color compliments the home but is not an exact match.

Orientation of the sun

Orientation of the sun should play a key role in the material you choose to finish your deck or outdoor space in as well as the color. What direction does your back yard face? If it faces the south or west then you won’t get a lot of shade. Since synthetic decking materials like composites and darker colors retain more heat a lighter hue may make your best choice. This is especially true if you enjoy going barefoot on your deck. Choosing a lighter color composite or choosing to build with a natural wood medium will help keep those toes cooler.

Studies have shown that composites retain more heat than wood because they are denser. Wood is a naturally good insulator and breathes unlike a synthetic. This enables the surface to stay cooler and hold less heat. This may not factor into your color or material choice as a make-or-break issue, but if you live in a warmer part of the country shaving a few degrees off the outdoor temperature can make a big difference.

TimberTech Pacific Walnut deck with paver steps in Dublin, OH
Contrast can be breathtaking. This decking is a complete contrast to the home, but was designed with matching rails.

Compliment or contrast the colors of your house

When it comes to selecting colors, one idea is to bring in the colors that surround your planned outdoor space. What is the color scheme of your house? Even though you likely won’t be able to achieve an exact match to your home’s color, you will be able to get fairly close. Maybe consider choosing a lighter shade with the same base tint as your home’s exterior. Or choose a darker shade for an elegant color scheme. This falls into a complimentary color scheme and can deliver a well-rounded approach to choosing a color. If you want to match your decking color with your home you can do so by picking up the colors on different areas of your deck. For example, if you install a wood rail you may stain it match the color of your home. This would create a scenario where the decking surface differs from the rail and adds contrast which is also good.

If you plan to build an outdoor living combination such as a deck and patio combination make sure to pick your decking color first. It is easier to match your hardscape or paver colors to the deck than the other way around.

Pickerington, OH white vinyl pergola over TimberTech Cedar composite deck
This white vinyl pergola works in unison with a TimberTech composite deck in Cedar with white vinyl railings, and the home which is stucco.

Do your homework

Many of the synthetic decking websites have valuable color selecting tools that will aid in choosing your perfect color. TimberTech provides a  TimberTech color visualizer on their website that actually enables you to build a virtual custom deck. You have the ability to change the colors on the rails, balusters, posts and many other details to try each hue on for size. On the AZEK website there is a vast AZEK gallery of photos that has a plethora of examples of their colors and how they look in different scenarios and combinations from railing to trim.

We’d love to provide suggestions and guidance from our experience.  We have the knowledge of what is hot in terms of colors on the market, and what is not. Our personal favorite is Pacific Teak from TimberTech’s Earthwood line. Reddish tones are not popular in the Columbus area, and gray is making somewhat of a comeback especially with homeowners who have a gray home.

Columbus Ohio exotics composite deck with vinyl pergola
This color combination is truly a match made in heaven.

We provide many references and we highly encourage people to look at recent jobs we’ve completed to see what the decking looks like in “real-time”. Even if you feel comfortable with your builder, it is always a good idea to go and see real-life examples of their work. Contact Archadeck of Columbus to help you plan, design and build your perfect outdoor space. We can assist you with every aspect of the design and construction of your deck including choosing the hue that best suits you!

Michael Reeder, Archadeck of Columbus
Michael Reeder, Archadeck of Columbus

Call for free consultation today (740) 879 – 3730

To see more successful  decking color combinations visit our composite and vinyl deck gallery, our wood deck gallery and our decks gallery located on our website.

Composite vs. synthetic decking for your Columbus deck or porch

Archadeck of Columbus explores the world of synthetic decking products, from the original composite to the newer capstock decking.

Upper Arlington Columbus OH screen porch TimberTech
Synthetics are for more than just decks. This screened porch in Upper Arlington was built using a gorgeous TimberTech floor.

The term composite is used to describe a broad spectrum of low maintenance materials. Because of the new introductions to the market, there are other low maintenance products that are actually not composite materials. Many people are familiar with composites or the idea of composites and that has become the Coca-Cola of the low maintenance materials. Because of the new and improved low maintenance materials, we now call this category synthetic decking and composites are just one of the materials in this synthetic category.

This TimberTech deck and outdoor fireplace by Archadeck of Columbus is the perfect spot for entertaining this spring.

Composites are a mix of materials including wood fiber and plastic.  Product lines such as the TimberTech Twin Finish, and Trex Accents are good examples of traditional  wood/plastic composites. Traditional composite has now become the value oriented decking board because of the new products that have joined the category. Wood particles are still part of the makeup of the product which makes it porous. If you spill coffee, wine, or grease on the deck you will want to clean it up quickly just as you would inside your home. Other environmental factors such as bird droppings can lead to staining if now cleaned properly. We expect that in the next 5-6 years these composite products will fall by the wayside, they will still remain available but will probably not experience any dramatic growth in the popularity of these products with the other newcomers that are making their way into the spotlight.

Azek Brownstone
This deck was built with AZEK in brownstone from their harvest color collection.

Pure PVC products came onto the scene about 5-6 years ago. Lines such as AZEK, and TimberTech’s XLM, and Fiberon are great examples of pure PVC decking materials. They consist of PVC foam and a hard PVC cap that is non-porous. They are non-porous and accordingly will not stain permanently however when they become soiled, they will need to be cleaned with soap and water. Just because it’s low maintenance doesn’t mean it’s self cleaning.  PVC comes in a host of colors and new color introductions are made onto the market almost every year, so the selection is vast. You can get solid colors such as the TimberTech Natural Collection, or the TimberTech Tropical collection which has more streaking to replicate the look of real tropical hardwoods. These PVC products are oil-based so the natural colors are the least expensive, and the tropical collection forges into the higher end of the synthetic cost spectrum.

TimberTech earthwood evolutions new colors 2012 Archadeck Columbus
TimberTech earthwood evolutions new colors 2012

The newest synthetic product came onto the scene 2-3 years ago. This is called capstock. Capstock is a third generation synthetic which is also referred to as capped PVC. This product contains a composite core which has been capped, or wrapped in PVC. TimberTech Evolutions and Trex Escapes are good examples of capstock. In the Columbus market, Fiberon is the most costly because it is not stocked locally. The TimberTech capstocks are popular in this area because they are good products and the close proximity to their national office makes them easily obtainable. TimberTech now has a capstock line called Evolutions that has a realistic look of tropical hardwoods with streaking, and color variations that mimic the real thing. TimberTech also offers a line of natural color capstock as well. The beauty of capstock is the performance and the price point. Capstock is less expensive than pure PVC and performs beautifully.

Michael Reeder, Archadeck of Columbus
Michael Reeder, Archadeck of Columbus

No matter which synthetic is right for your deck and your budget, Archadeck of Columbus can answer any questions you have about any of the decking products we offer. We also build wood decks as well. Whatever your function or  fancy, we can build it. Learn more about all our wonderful deck designs by contacting us today. Call for a free consultation: (740) 879 – 3730

See more great examples of synthetic decks by visiting our composite and PVC deck photo gallery located on our website.