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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.