The Future of Decking…Is it Man-Made?

Plastic decking
Plastic decking made to look like weathered wood.

I have seen the future of decking….and it is not plastic.

From looking over many of the exhibits at the International Builders Show in Orlando, FL, it was apparent there are a ton of composite decking companies there. There were the familiar names and a bunch from overseas countries like China. Despite the elaborate displays and fancy marketing materials, I can’t tell you how many times I overheard people going up to various reps and asking the same questions:

  • How does this compare to real hardwood like Ipe?
  • I heard about recalls due to mold, peeling and cracking? Why is your stuff different?
  • What chemicals do you use to ensure this stuff doesn’t fade like you claim?

Clearly, people have been doing their homework on these decking materials. With the shaky record composites have, it’s understandable that people are growing more skeptical about the claims of low maintenance.

Faded wood decking
Left to mature gracefully, this ipe deck hasn't checked, split, or warped.

Each time, I overheard rep after rep stumbling through the exact same answers. Saying that a product is “just better” because it’s recycled isn’t a real answer. Similarly, saying that you can’t disclose what chemicals are used within the plastic just doesn’t fly especially when you remember all the news of recalls and tainting that are currently plaguing many foreign made building products. However, the most glaring problem about these options is the plain and simple fact that composite and PVC decking looks plastic. There’s no mistaking it.

Despite the many attempts to mimic the look of authentic wood decking one thing is clear, you can’t fool the eye. And, if you’re going to claim that your product improves on mother nature, you better be sure it can handle whatever mother nature throws at it! As you can see from the picture about, that ipe deck lining the beach has been in place for years. It withstands the daily pressures of sun, rain, daily traffic, wind, sand, and every conceivable element you can think of. As you can see, it’s been holding up nicely. Contrast that with the composite decking reviews you read online and the pictures to back it up. Given the past performance of composite decking, the future doesn’t look too promising.

Have you replaced your composite deck? Are you considering building a new deck in the future? What are you looking for out of a deck material? Tell us your thoughts below…

1 thought on “The Future of Decking…Is it Man-Made?”

  1. I am torn between rebuilding my existing deck with a wheel chair ramp with either treated or composite decking. The original deck I built in 1987 with treated wood. With the harsh weather here in Louisville, KY the deck has seen better days. I’ve treated the wood annually with what I believed to be a good product. The deck is a neccesity for my son in his power wheel chair. Please let me know in your unbiased opinion which you feel is the better product? I’ve begun dismantling the original, and need to act quickly. Thanks: Karlton Rudolph

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