A few decades ago, affordable waterproof decking was something many homeowners dreamed of but was out of reach for most. That changed as new manufacturing techniques evolved, and unique products were introduced like PVC and composites.
Unfortunately, a lot of manufacturers bill their decking as waterproof, when that isn’t the case at all. In this guide, we are going to discuss types of decking that are 100% waterproof, and tell you what you can expect from some of the top brands in the industry.
Waterproof vs. Water-Resistant
Before we take a look at the kinds of waterproof decking, you should understand the difference between water-resistance and waterproof. While the terms should be self-explanatory to most consumers, many manufacturers label their deck boards as waterproof when they are actually just resistant to H2O.
Whether it’s a smartphone, hiking boots, or wood, anything that’s “water-resistant” has the ability to shed water to a degree. That’s different than something that’s water-repellent, however. Most products with this certification have been treated with a coating and are a rung or two below water-resistant products.
Anything that is waterproof is completely impervious to water, and in the case of decking, it means water cannot penetrate the planks at all. That’s critical for outdoor structures and keeps boards from warping, splitting, or swelling. It also limits your options to only a handful of materials in the decking world.
PVC is one of the few forms of decking that is actually 100% waterproof. This synthetic decking is made from plastic, with no organic material used in its construction. The boards can be capped for additional protection as well, just like a composite deck board. Capped PVC boards are more expensive, but can extend the lifespan of your deck considerably.
The downside to PVC decking is the fact it doesn’t look at real as composite decking, which is its closest competitor. Some companies use cutting-edge techniques that add a level of realism, but you will not mistake it for traditional wood or even a high-quality composite plank.
While not the first choice most homeowners turn to, aluminum is another type of decking material that’s completely impervious to water. Aluminum decking puts PVC to shame when it comes to strength but is also sturdier than any type of composite decking or traditional wood as well.
Needless to say, mold, termites, and UV rays won’t be an issue with aluminum decking. Aluminum decking can be costly, however, and it’s an acquired taste from a style standpoint. While it’s lightweight, it can be difficult to cut and work with as well if you intend to build a deck on your own.
Composite decking is the most popular style of decking sold for residential use in the United States. It’s more durable than PVC, comes in a wide variety of colors, and is easy to acquire. The number of options available can be overwhelming, but there is a style and price point for everyone if you’re interested in composite decking.
By design, most composite decking is not waterproof, but water-resistant. It’s made from a mixture of plastic and recycled wood products, so there is organic material in composite decking. Composite boards that are completely capped have a layer that keeps water from getting near the core, although most companies offer 3-sided capped boards compared to ones that are entirely encased.
Wooden decking is right behind composite decking in terms of popularity and can be quite a bit cheaper as well, depending on the species you choose. You can read more about the best types of wood for outdoor decking in our guide, but keep in mind that wood has the worst water resistance of any material – even if it’s been treated.
While you can add a protective coating to your wood deck to prevent water from seeping into its pores, it’s still organic, which means insects, rot, and the elements will take their toll over time. Pressure-treated lumber is one way to get around termites or rot, but pressure-treated decking still is not entirely waterproof.
Waterproof Coatings and Membranes
As mentioned, there are various ways you can treat natural wood decking to help it deal with Mother Nature and add a layer of water resistance. While we aren’t going to go in-depth on deck sealers, we do want to talk about a few unique approaches to waterproofing an existing deck.
Vinyl deck membranes are a way to fully encapsulate any type of deck you plan to build or one that’s already attached to your home. There are kits and products that are fairly simple to install, like EconoDek and Duradeck, while others may require a professional installation.
The process behind installing some membranes can be time-consuming and not cost-effective for some homeowners. It can also be semi-permanent, whereas a good protective coating gives you more freedom and is something you can change over time.
Ames is a company that makes an excellent line of deck coatings, including Safe-T-Deck, which is a slip-resistant waterproof deck coating. These coatings vary depending on the manufacturer but are generally a rubberized plastic that’s painted on with a roller. The material isn’t cheap, but it goes a long way and is something you can easily apply yourself.
The Best Waterproof Decking
Now that you understand the options that are available, it’s time to consider the top choices for aluminum, PVC, and composite deck manufacturers. While you won’t find any natural wood on our list, Cedar, Cumaru, Redwood, and IPE are all naturally resistant to rot, insects, and decay to a degree. They just aren’t waterproof unless you coat them with rubber.
The Best Waterproof PVC Decking
PVC is the top option for consumers that want a waterproof synthetic deck but prefer plastic to metal. While there aren’t as many options as you’ll find with composite decking, there are a handful of brands you’ll want to be aware of.
TimberTech AZEK is arguably the best PVC decking. It’s easy to acquire, has a lifetime guarantee against structural damage, and 50 years against fading and staining. The company’s capped PVC boards are available in four collections with a nice mix of color-blended planks and budget-friendly monochromatic decking.
Fiberon is another big brand name that makes composite decking but has one line of PVC deck boards, just like TimberTech. Fiberon Paramount is only available in four colors and capped on three sides, but has two profiles with solid or grooved edge boards. It’s waterproof and rated for use in Wildland Urban Interface Zones as well. Fiberon Promenade is the next step up with the company’s new surface coating and comes in different eight colors.
While Fiberon and TimberTech AZEK are two of the easier brands to find locally, there are several companies that only produce PVC decking. VEKA Outdoor Living Products is one of those brands, and their VEKAdeck PVC decking is an interesting option. The company’s products are available in monochrome or variegated tones through their Signature Collection.
If you’re interested in PVC decking that is highly realistic, you’ll want to check out Zuri Decking’s catalog. They currently have 10 multi-colored hues in their lineup, all of which are available in your choice of square or grooved profile boards, they have a solid collection, although their products are only sold through dealers, not big box hardware stores.
Genovations is a smaller company with just as one collection of PVC decking, although they use some unique construction techniques to make their decking cool underfoot and lightweight. Genovations Decking also has one of the better warranties in the PVC decking world with a lifetime guarantee against stains or structural damage.
Wolf Decking’s Serenity Collection is a series of capped PVC boards that are available in two profiles and 10 different colors. The company also has a line of capped porch boards as well that are smaller than traditional deck boards at 1” x 3 1/8” wide. Their array of colors isn’t as impressive as other brands, but they have a solid warranty and an affordable price tag.
The Best Waterproof Aluminum Decking
The selection of PVC decking manufacturers may be slim, but there are 2-3 times more PVC decking companies than aluminum deck brands. Aluminum decking is considered a specialty product, which can make it difficult to acquire in some locations. It can outlast every other type of decking by decades, however, and is also 100% waterproof.
Wahoo Decking has an excellent line of aluminum decking with Fortis and AriDek. Fortis deck boards are 8” wide and available in three colors. They are gapped, and while they won’t fool you into thinking they are wood, the company does a remarkable job with their colors. Wahoo AriDek is available in the same color but made from marine-grade 6005 T-5 aluminum. They also have an integrated gutter, which makes them ideal for second-story decks.
Nexan building products have two lines of aluminum decking as well. Nexan LockDry is labeled as waterproof decking due to the catchment system integrated into the boards, while NextDeck is designed like traditional decking and has a hidden fastening system. Both are powder-coated with excellent warranties, but NextDeck is cheaper and available in three colors, while LockDry comes in six colors.
Of all the aluminum decking manufacturers we researched, Versadeck has the most unique product line. A thick coating that’s 60-80 mils thick makes the boards sound more realistic beneath your feet instead of hollow or tinny. They also produce three types of aluminum decking with R-40 aluminum decking and the VersaDeck Watertight Decking System. The R-40 Modular Decking tiles allow you to use different designs, and their lines are available in eight colors with three texturing options.
The Best Waterproof Composite Decking
If you prefer composite decking to aluminum or PVC deck boards, you can still find several companies that offer capped composite decking. While we are just listing some of the top brands, there are other dozens of other manufacturers that produce capped composite deck boards that are capped on three sides if you don’t need full encapsulation.
Fiberon has the best selection of fully capped composite decking. While all of their collections are capped on three sides, the Fiberon Concordia Collection is fully encased. Planks from the Symmetry and Horizon Collections are available in two different profiles, and eight colors with the same warranty found on the companies PVC decking collections. That means you’ll get an excellent 50year warranty against fading and stains along with a lifetime limited guaranteed against structural issues.
TimberTech has one of the best PVC deck boards available on the market today with their AZEK collection, but their TimberTech PRO series is also noteworthy. These boards are capped on all four sides and make use of the company’s Mold Guard technology. There are three collections with Legacy, Terrain, and Reserve, with 15 colors available between their collections. All their fully encapsulated decking has a 30-year warranty across the board.
Whether you prefer PVC to composite decking or are intrigued by aluminum’s durability, there are pros and cons to each type of decking material on our list. It’s also important to keep your budget in mind as all forms of synthetic decking are priced at a premium compared to traditional wooden decking. If you are torn between two materials or want to learn more about decking, be sure to check out our ultimate decking guide.