Choosing a Deck: Plastic or Wood?

Before you choose between plastic and wood for your decking, ask yourself one question: Where is your deck? If your deck is in the sun or in the shade for the majority of the day — particularly in summer, when it will be used most — you’ll want to choose the material that will be comfortable in that spot on the hottest days of the year.
Of course, size, cost, style and maintenance should factor into your decision, too.

Types of Decking

Glen Ridge elevated deck and pergola

Elevated pressure treated southern yellow pine deck and custom pergola in Greensboro




  • Plastic: 100 percent plastic decking is stain resistant and won’t crack, warp or splinter. It doesn’t require any finishing. Some plastic decking is made from new plastic; others are partially or completely recycled.
  • Composite: This decking is made from wood fibers  and recycled plastic. Dense, weather and stain resistant, it won’t splinter, warp or rot.
  • Wood: Most of today’s wood decks in the South are built out of pine or ipe, a sustainable tropical wood.  Folks in the southern states like us  seem to favor plastic and composite decking, and now plastic-capped composites as the ever-growing field of less maintenance materials evolves.

Heat Resistance
While composites and plastics have their benefits, comfort on a hot day is not one of them. Composites and plastics can get so hot, you might not be comfortable walking on them on a hot sunny summer day. barefoot. Capped composites are no different. The plastic layer surrounding the composite holds heat, but the lighter the color, the less heat it holds.

For this reason, many professionals recommend using wood in climates with extra hot summers. Pressure-treated southern yellow pine is a light-colored wood commonly used in the southern states.  It’s  lower cost and availability make it desirable. Tropical woods, such as ipe and teak  wear and weather well but the added expense might not be so attractive to the average homeowner. Also some the tropical hardwood is dark holding more heat than lighter woods, such as the commonly used pressure-treated pine.



Great looking composite deck with bench seats and lattice underskirting in Winston Salem

No matter what material you choose for your deck, it’s going to need maintenance — a minimum of one annual cleaning. Most composites and plastics need a regularly applied finish (once or twice a year) to keep from fading, but most decking wood can be left finished or unfinished. While wood is more susceptible to rot and warping, mold spots are more difficult to remove from composite and plastic decking.


Composite or plastic decking can be twice to three times  as expensive as wooden decking because the materials cost more and the structure tends to be more extensive. Composite decking isn’t as stiff as lumber, so it generally needs more support to prevent sagging. This can easily add hundreds of dollars to your decking cost. Tropical hardwood ups the cost even more.

If you are interested in learning more about our custom ,decks screened porches, three and four season rooms including our Eze-Breeze enclosures, please contact Archadeck of the Piedmont Triad today. Call us today for a free consultation (336) 664 – 1332 or email us at Also please visit our wesite filled many great pictures that will help you imagine your own outdoor living project

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