PVC is one of the newer composite decking materials being used by manufacturers today. It's an interesting option for homeowners that don’t like the maintenance of wooden decks and are not quite sold on composite lumber.
In our PVC decking review guide, we are going to discuss what makes this type of deck board unique. We’re also going to touch on the top brands, and tell you how to find the right deck boards along with what to expect when it comes to PVC deck prices.
The Pros and Cons of PVC Decking
There are certain advantages and disadvantages to using any type of building material, especially for decking. We’ve already told you what to expect from aluminum decks in composite boards in our previous reviews, so now it’s time to take a look at the pros and cons of PVC decking.
The Pros of PVC Decking
If you're looking for a low maintenance style of decking, PVC planks could be your best bet. High-quality PVC decking boards are less prone to fading than other types of decking and you generally don't have to worry about scratches or stains.
You will also never have to worry about mold, rot, or insects that like to chomp through natural wood when you opt for PVC decking. Seasonal maintenance will be a thing of the past as well. You'll simply need to wash the deck off, and we’ll never need to sand or stain your deck again.
The Cons of PVC Decking
One of the biggest drawbacks of PVC decking is the fact that some of it doesn’t look realistic. You will definitely never mistake it for a Cedar plank. PVC decking is not exactly DIY-friendly compared to other decking materials. You can’t rip a PVC board and mistakes can also be costly.
Fading can be a problem with cheaper products, just like with composite boards, although PVC planks are more difficult to repair. You’ll also find this style of decking to be a little more expensive, and you'll need to keep expansion and contraction in mind as well.
PVC vs. Composite Decking
Comparing traditional wood decking with PVC planks is like comparing apples and oranges. With that in mind, we're going to pit composite deck boards against PVC as these two styles are the most closely associated with one another.
One of the biggest differences between these two types of decking materials is how they are made. Composite boards use the mix the plastic and wood while PVC decking boards are 100% synthetic. Many high-quality PVC decking boards are also made from a high amount of recycled content as well and are recyclable.
On the downside, PVC decking tends to get warmer in the summertime than a composite board. Scratch resistance is a toss-up as PVC decking it's highly scratch and stain-resistant. Composite boards that are capped can be just as resistant to those issues as well. Composite boards are heavier and more structurally sound, however.
With pricing, it all comes down to the brand and style for the most part. We've seen capped composite decking with a price tag that far exceeds a premium PVC plank. Alternatively, most mid-range and premium PVC decking will cost more than uncapped composite deck boards in the same class.
How to Pick the Perfect PVC Decking
Finding the best PVC decking is easier said than done for a variety of reasons. It's not as popular as lumber or composite decking, which can make it a little harder to find at times. That means your selection locally or online can be limited to a degree, so here are a few tips to help you narrow the field.
Types of PVC Decking
Just like with other styles of deck boards, you can find PVC decking in a few different forms. With PVC, you'll mainly deal with capped and uncapped decking. Simply put, capped PVC boards will have an extra layer of protection. That comes at an additional cost but typically includes a longer warranty period. Uncapped PVC decking is just as durable structurally, but sans the extra layer on top and cheaper.
PVC Decking Styles
With PVC decking, you’ll often find that companies put their planks into collections just like you find with hardwood and other flooring products. While not always the case, it's not uncommon to find boards grouped into series named after cities or seasons. Regardless of the color, pay attention to the grain pattern and how much it repeats from board-to-board.
You won't have any issues finding a color that you like with PVC decking, although the overall selection isn't quite as vast as composite decking. Considering you can't stain or change the color of PVC decking choosing the right shade the first time around is critical. You'll also find more color variegation with high-end lines if you want a more realistic look.
Profiles and Sizes
Compared to composite boards, there are not as many options when it comes to profiles in PVC decking. A full profile that board will be the most expensive from a material standpoint. They are available in two styles, however, with grooved and square edge profiles. There are also companies like Genovations, which takes a unique approach to their vinyl boards with I-Beam engineering.
Deck boards are typically sold in three Links with 12, 16, or 20-foot boards. In our research, we found that 90% of decking companies stick to those standards aside from a few. We have seen a few companies that offer 10 and 14-foot boards as well, but 20 feet appears to be the limit for residential use.
The Green Factor
The eco-friendly factors that go into PVC decking are a little tricky compared to other forms of decking. Hardwoods or natural wood, in general, is organic so sustainability can be an issue in some cases. With PVC decking, the boards are essentially 100% plastic.
You won't have to worry about any trees being cut down, but you will need to think about recyclability. The good news is most of the brands that produce PVC decking today use recycled materials in their products. The ability to recycle the boards is really important as well.
PVC Decking Prices
As mentioned, PVC decking is typically more expensive then it's natural wood or composite counterparts. Pricing depends on the brand, quality, and style, which can make it hard to narrow down a price. Are PVC deck pricing table below will give you a rough idea of what to expect from some of the most popular brands.
Collection or Color
$36 - $45
$48 - 59
$60 - $73
$70 - $90
$80 - $100
The Best PVC Decking Brands
There aren’t nearly as many brands to choose from with PVC decking, but here are a few companies that carry multiple collections or styles of decking.
You'll find AZEK decking under the TimberTech banner, and it’s one of the more well-known names in the industry. They have one of the larger collection of PVC deck lines as well with the vintage, harvest, and arbor collections.
There are a wide variety of colors and grain patterns across their collections. That includes boards with infinite grain patterns as well as ones with straight and cathedral wood grain patterns. AZEKs lines feature both monochromatic and variegated colors, but their premium line is also textured with various finishing techniques.
Whether you are looking for decking to use for a boat dock or just want a small patio outdoors, VEKAdeck is an interesting solution. The company's deck boards have an expansion and contraction rate of less than 0.05%. This allows the installer to use end to end butt joints with these lightweight cellular extruded boards.
VEKAdeck decking is recyclable, fire-resistant, and comes with an embossed with a wood grain pattern. The company currently has 10 colors available across to collections, so there should be a shade or style to suit anyone's tastes.
Wolf has two types of PVC decking available with boards for your deck and one's geared towards porches. The Wolf Serenity collection features capped PVC decking in over a dozen colors overall between its lines. These PVC deck boards feature ColorWatch100 technology to prevent fading and are fully reversible. Both collections also come with a 50-year stain and fade warranty which is among the best in the industry.
Zuri decking is similar to the other brands on our list, although the way they make their boards is unique. Their cellular composite PVC decking is a multi-layered product that said to have a surface that's considerably harder than composite deck boards.This company doesn't have the largest selection with only two styles and a handful of natural tones. It's quite resilient, however, with excellent stain and fade resistance.
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This tool is powered by our partner Networx which has been specializing in collecting, vetting and rating decking contractors for more than 20 years.
Comparing the 3 bids can help you get the reasonable installation cost and avoid getting ripped.
Feel free to leave a comment to share your reviews of PVC decking or installer below.
Q: What types of mats are best for use on PVC decking?
A: With any brand of PVC decking, you want to stick to mats that are woven with colorfast fibers. That means rubber-backed mats are out, but vinyl products can also cause issues. If the wrong type of mat is used, discoloration can occur.
Q: What is the optimal joist spacing for PVC decking installation?
A: While you should always refer to the installation manual for the product in question, 16” is the standard for residential purposes.
Q: Is it safe to use a pressure washer or power washer on PVC decks?
A: Yes, but you should pay attention to the power level when using any gas-powered pressure washer. These machines can strip paint and damage composite or wooden decking at full blast, so it is wise to watch the power with PVC decking as well.
Q: Will sharp pet claws damage PVC decking?
A: That should not be a problem as PVC can handle the largest of dogs with ease, although the wrong color may be too warm for their paws in the summertime.
Q: How long with the best PVC decks last on average?
A: Manufacturers may have different timespans for specific product lines, but we found that 20 years is about the average lifespan of PVC decking. The weather in your area and maintenance play a part in longevity as well.
Q: Are there any PVC deck brands that sell paintable decking?
A: By design, PVC planks are not made to be painted, which is why manufacturers offer them in a variety of colors. Most will accept paint, however, as long as they have been prepped, cleaned, and primed with the proper materials.
Q: Can you cantilever a PVC deck?
A: Yes, but you will want to check on the manufacturer’s installation specifications.