What is the best composite?

martina_21October 4, 2007

I have been reading this forum for awhile as we are making our descion on decking material and cannot decided what is the best composite. I like timber tech's teak with the hidden fasteners but I just wonder is that the best product. It will be in full sun so I don't know that mildew and mold will be an issue. Any suggestions?

Also we were going to use 16 and 20 foot boards will this cause it to feel bouncy? I would think that has more to do with the substracture and supports then the composite.

Thank you Martina

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Martina: I think your question is probably going to get a big volley of responses, as this subect seems to be both important and even emotional to a lot of the regulars here.
This is my take: I am starting a deck project next week, and I chose Fiberon Professional Series in brown. Believe it or not, I did not like it the best and I don't think it's the best product. I researched a great deal on this and the reason I went with the Fiberon is because my contractor likes it, has a lot of positive experience with it, has used it on many projects, and gave me a good price. I looked at probably 10 different composites or more, and it was in my top 3, so I went along with him.
Additional comments:
The "composite" decking I liked the best I guess really isn't even composite. It's Pro Cell/Azek Deck (I think it was formerly Pro Cell and Azek just bought them out.). My understanding is that unlike "composite" which is really a mix of organic materials (wood flour or rice stalk) and plastic, the Azek is 100% synthetic/plastic. I still categorize it as "composite" since most people consider composite anything that has man made ingredients and is not solid wood. Anyway, the Pro Cell/Azek looks like painted wood---like someones old boat dock freshly repainted. Especially from a viewing distance, the stuff looks great. It's lightweight and I'm sure it's probably more durable and weather/rot resistant over the long haul than true composite is. The disadvantages are that the colors are all light pastel (not a disadvantage if you like the look). Also, I've heard 100% plastic stuff can expand and contract more dramatically, so spacing definitely factors in. They do offer a hidden fastener system. I imagine the price is very slightly higher than good composite, but maybe not.
Fiberon: The Fiberon "Tropics" looked great to me, like tropical hardwood. But it scratches more easily than the other Fiberon and is more expensive. Also, it is a smooth finish and some people like the textured wood grain that the other Fiberon stuff has. The Fiberon "Pro Series" that I picked comes in four colors. I liked the brown. My contractor is getting it with the edges grooved for a hidden fastener system.
Evergrain: It seems to be a very solid and premium composite. It is a little pricey and it is not reversible if that matters to you. It does look nice.
By the way, Home Depot Veranda, I think, is identical to Fiberon. I think Fiberon makes it for them.
I looked at a whole pile of others, but these were sort of the ones that worked best for me or were easier to source in my area.
Note that the true composites do fade to a lighter color. One reason I went with brown over redwood is because I'd prefer light brown to pinkish red.
In a general sense, I think for an outside deck, composite is a good choice. I'm having a screened porch built at the same time, and will lay wood in there. But for my grilling deck, I'm going composite. There are drawbacks to it, which I'm sure you'll hear about in the responses. But I like the no splinters and lower maintenance aspects of it. I fully expect it to weather, fade, stain and scratch and I don't care. As long as the stuff doesn't fall apart---I'm okay with it getting some age on it. No sanding, no applying sealer every two years, consistency on the look---these are the reasons I went with it. I've heard the joist spacing can be 16" with most composites, but my contractor is doing 12" instead. If they say 24" I think they're setting you up for disappointment. I don't see how this stuff can span two feet and not have creaks or bounce in it.
Another one I like---I hope I remember it correctly---is Weather Best??? Also, Geo Deck was okay. This is the one made with rice stalk instead of wood flour. They claim that's an advantage, though I don't know for sure. It has a lot of fans, but I didn't like the look quite as much as the others I mentioned. Also, they did have a recall a few years ago that's disturbing. I read on the web that 11,000 decks might have been affected. Of course, Trex has a class action suit against them---no one is perfect.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 2:31PM
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Thank you for taking the time to respond. We were all set for the timber tech then I picked up a brochure for the Azek (oddly enough) and they said it was better then composite but I just have never heard of it, which is why I wanted to post the question.On another site I saw postings that said geodeck is junk as well as correct deck. And now I understand that people were talking about the floor joist not the deck plank when talking about bounce. thanks, Martina

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 3:00PM
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I've worked with most all the major brands of composites other than ProCell. I've found Ameradeck to be the best hands down. It has many qualities the others don't. Here's why I think it's best.

1. does not scratch easily
2. class A fire rating the same as ipe or steel
3. easy to work with, it's a little lighter in weight than most, does not mushroom when you screw it down without pilot holes.
4. does not absorb stains like the softer composites, cleans up with a water hose if you spill something on it.
5. spans farther, they claim it works with 24" centers tho I use 20" centers on homes & 16" on commercial jobs.
6. slip resistant even when wet
7. looks good
8. not as expensive as the other high end composites, same price as fiberon, weatherbest & premier here in austin
9. does not get mold/mildew issues like those with exposed wood particles do
10. great customer service

I met the owner of the company last month & he told me about all the testing they do to find ways to improve their all ready great product. The factory rep that serves this area is also top notch. I like a company that stands behind their product & takes care of any issues that come up instead of making excuses or splitting hairs to get out of warranties.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 7:20PM
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Yes, if the lighter colors work for you, the Azek/Pro Cell might be the way to go. They sent me free samples of all colors. I found the stuff was harder to scratch than wood composite. It's also very lightweight. If you want a true wood composite, try Fiberon samples and see what you think of it. If you want to do hidden fasteners, the grooved Fiberon apparently makes labor much easier. The color selection is pretty good and it feels high quality compared to some of the others. There's a website "Virginia Deck" and the guy running that absolutely loves Geo Deck---so much so, he almost comes across as a sales rep. Not sure how objective he is, but he does have a lot of positive stuff to say about Geo Deck and negative stuff to say about almost everything else. For corporate customer service, Fiberon was by far the best. They were generous and fast with sending all sorts of samples and answered e-mail questions quickly. Makes me think if I have an issue with the product, they'll try to help out. The others' service wasn't nearly as good as Fiberon.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 9:07PM
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Our deck is only 4x4, so we weren't so worried about cost do we went with the Fiberon Tropics Mahogany as I wanted something really dark in color - we didn't want anything plastic as it's in the front of the house (if we did a deck somewhere else, we would take the suggestions here) and ruled out IPE as to get it locally was $$$ and a pain to pick out our boards and if we went through George at East Teak we couldn't pick our boards (plus he never sent us the sample as promised). IPE wasn't dark enough and several people said it couldn't hold a stain well. We also have so much work to do on the house we want no maintaince.

So far we have it all cut and it needs to be screwed down. It was easy to cut and looks great. It scratches very easily (we are just screwing it down in case we need to replace boards/cheaper) but overall we are very happy with it. The railing system is very $$$, but since we only needed one rail we splurged and got it. We haven't installed it, but it looks very nice in the box.

Home Depot Veranda is the same as Fiberon - and their customer service and samples are great.

I don't think because of price, I'd do a big deck out of it, but given we are DIY (thanks to the help here), we might given we have no labor costs.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2007 at 10:33PM
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I just wanted to say that we used Trex on our deck almost eight years ago. I like the splinter-free factor and the no-maintenance factor since neither my husband or I like to have to do that stuff. We power-washed it once and it looked like new. I will say that lots of people over the years have walked up to the deck and immediately said "Oh, this is that fake wood stuff, isn't it?" Whether that's an innocent remark or a "yuk", I don't know, but I'm just telling you how others react to it. Personally, I have no problems with the way it looks--it's a nice, smooth surface and I can go out barefoot--something I would be afraid to do on an eight-year old wood deck. I wish I could more adequately answer your comparision question, but I haven't experienced anything besides Trex.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 1:57PM
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I build lots of composite decks here in Massachusetts. I usually recomend Weatherbest decking to our composite deck customers, although Azek brand decking is starting to gain in popularity as well (Azek decking is 100% cellulose, if I'm not mistaken).

There are some good articles & pictures of a Weatherbest composite deck at the link I included.

Here is a link that might be useful: Weatherbest Composite Deck Pictures

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 5:04PM
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Of course WB is in big trouble right now, but what the hay. J.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 6:07PM
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google "Fiberon decking lawsuits" and "Weatherbest decking lawsuits" and then think about it. Of course Trex goes without saying

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 6:59PM
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TimberTech XLM
Correct Deck CX

All three are 100% PVC, not a composite of wood and plastic. What that means is that they are more scratch resistant, mold resistant and stain resistant than any composite board made with wood flour.

google them to find out more...

I've never used AmeriDeck (not available around here) but if it's available in your neck of the woods, check it out. Deckman's a solid guy with a lot of knowledge...


    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 11:01PM
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do your self a favor and put your beams 12" instead of 16"
I did that with my TREX & I dont regret it. I staggerd the screws and only screwed each board evry 24" but the extra support is form it. when you carry a 16' peice of this stuff on your shoulder the ends are on the ground...

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 9:56PM
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Hi Martina,
I am just a homeowner and not as knowlegable or experienced as many who have answered your post here. But I went thru this same decision process last year. A friend of mine and I were remodeling at the same time and he went with pvc composite and I chose IPE. His came out beautiful and perfect and all, but feels and sounds like metal and makes a god-awful racket all day as the planks expand and contract differently than the substructure. It was hilarious because I spent the weekend down at his place and fell asleep outside on the deck. In the morning as the sun rose and started heating the pvc deck boards, it literally sounded like a house was on jacks being levelled and raised all around me! It was loud and walking on it felt and sounded like a highschool gym bleachers made of metal. His contractor is now going to pull all the boards and put in teflon pads or something to try and quiet it down. Its the darndest thing. I think his deck looks great but I am glad I went IPE, which has its own "issues" as well. Time will tell.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 12:06PM
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We are currently under renovation and we are looking for the best product to build our deck. We have thought about IPE as well as trex but keep coming across problems with both. We are looking for very low maintenance and something that doesn't discolor. I find many of these products are having problems with mold and discoloration. if anyone here has experience with some wonderful product please let us know.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 5:25PM
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Puting trex and ipe in the same area is a bit complexing.

Please mention the problems you found with ipe, its not a problem at all to find problems with T=junk

If you dont want to do Any maintenance,not even a good cleaning a few times a year I suggest >>>> Dirt Deck > Grass Seed

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 6:50PM
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Does anyone have experience with EON decks and rails?

I am in north central Oklahoma.



    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 8:53PM
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What is the best material to build a deck. We are looking for something that is durable and doesn't discolor but looks great.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 6:41PM
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Hi egor_sb:

You wrote:
"In the morning as the sun rose and started heating the pvc deck boards, it literally sounded like a house was on jacks being levelled and raised all around me!"

What brand of pvc did your neighbor use?



    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 9:39PM
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Can you believe we have not made a decision. I am leaning toward all plastic type. I have had many samples sent to me and they just seem to hold up better. We have narrowed it down to EON and Elkcorpt (merged with GAF). Does anyone know anything about either of these products?
Thanks Martina_21

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 3:14PM
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Eon is not a good choice, it shrinks & expands more so than any other board, also I've heard it makes an awful sound when doing so. The Elk board I've seen was not a good composite either, tends to have the same mold/mildew problems that trex has.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 6:06AM
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Al, The Elk is all plastic and I did not think mold was an isue with all plastic. I cannot get Ameradeck here but the Elk looks alot like it with the rounded hollow center (I thought maybe they are by the same company). Any thoughts?
Thanks Martina_21

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 6:50AM
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Elk it seems, like most of the composite companies are going to include an all plastic line. What I've seen of Elk was at McCoy's & did have round holes thru it, it was a composite. Their new board may be good, I don't know.

Ameradeck has square holes in it, it's available anywhere, just has to be shipped in. AWDS has it on sale now, you can call Fernando @ 512-834-1200 for more info.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 10:34AM
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Interesting that you join this site, ask for recommendations on "the best" composite decking, get a whole slew of recommendations from reputable deck guys and homeowners...then "narrow your decision" to a couple of low-end boards.
EON is pure crap.

Good luck with your project,


    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 11:09AM
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Hey Mac Whats up?? I was going to go with Timber Tek, it had a lot of good reviews from people and I liked its look but after doing more research I feel that as long as a board had wood in it the mold issue can come up. So I changed my search (maybe 6 months after my initial post) to boards that were plastic only. I sent out for lots of samples and narrowed it down by looks. I am now at the point of researching the two I narrowed it down to EON and Elk.
After reading some opinions on EON I will not be using it.
Do you know anything about Elk? I am looking into their HD Professional line. If you have any knowledge or experience with that product then I would like to hear what you think, it just doesn't seem like a low-end board. Educate me if I am wrong.
I will be calling Fernando because of Al's reccomendation (I never got an Ameradeck sample because I thought I could not get it).

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 1:56PM
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I'm not going to say the product I used for my deck building project is the best. In fact its not even a composite, its a plastic/PVC/vinyl product. I saw some mention of Azek/procell here so I decided to post. From my research, I would say Azek/procell is probably one of the top plastic/PVC/vinyl products. Its drawback though is that it is very expensive. I decided to go with a more affordable PVC product named Quadra decking. Also known as Aurora decking. I took some pictures and posted some commentary here. decksummer08.shutterfly.com

now back to the discussion on composites and not plastic ;)

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 11:41AM
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I would like to clarify some facts to help readers better understand the alternatives.

Definition of a Composite: A complex material, such as wood or fiberglass, in which two or more distinct, structurally complementary substances, especially metals, ceramics, glasses, and polymers, combine to produce structural or functional properties not present in any individual component.

In the deck industry, Composites are by definition a filled polymer structure.

There are primarily 3 polymers used in composites:

Polyethyene- Currently most popular and least expensive, Typically has open fiber issues (staining- wicks into the exposed fiber, mold-can actually feed on the fiber), fade issues, fire issues, scratch issues splitting issues.

Polyproplyene - Very strong but very heavy and more costly. May have similar open fiber issues, fade issues and fire issues. Some cutting and fastening issues because it is so strong.

PVC can be either hollow or foam core. PVC is more expensive but has numerous advantages such as: very scratch resistant, light-weight, superior color retention, very stain resistant, longest life cycle, nothing for mold to feed on and fire resistance. PVC by definition will not support combustion the the absence of a direct ignition source. One other benefit is that PVC is less that 50% petroleum based. (alternative resins are 95%+)

Hollow PVC has been around for about 8 years, is a niche product and has really never taken off. Cosumers often do not like the springyness, hollow sound and creaking. They have fastening challenges.

Foam core is newer product and rapidly growing in the market. Foam cores are easy to carry, cut, screw and nail. Also much less likely to split. Foam core products also have the benefit insulation (not absorbing heat). This makes them cooler to walk on with barefeet. They fall into two categories:

Single layer foam core- is an older technology. Single layer products with exposed organic fiber may be subject to the same problems mentioned earlier. These products cannot economically use advanced polymer technologies to provide darker colors with acceptable weatherability.

Capped(outer polymer skin)foam core- Capping is a technology used in siding, window and fence products. These products have no exposed fiber that can create an issue. They can economically use more expensive polymers on the external layer for more exotic looks. Very scratch resistant. The only negative is that the end grain must be covered by miter, facia, pictureframing or paint.

Some have organic fillers while others do not.

Exposed organic fiber can lead to mold, stain etc.

Amerideck - has an organic (cellulose) fiber filler per their website. Not sure if it is capped.
AZEK is a organic filled (flax)cellular pvc product. No capstock.
Correct Deck is a sawdust filled poly proplyene. Some of their high end product has a capstock.
Veka is a non-organic(fiberglass) filled cellular pvc. This uses a capstock.
Timbertech - cellular pvc core. not sure of filler but do not believe it is organic. Has an ASA capstock

There are a few Non-composite foam deckboards available.

Hope this helps

    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 10:02AM
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I am just a rookie but I have been doing a lot of research and it seems to me that the best composite is the on that stays in the store and does not make it to your home, where it seams to reek havoc. I guess you should ask your self, man made composites god made wood who do you trust?

    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 10:17AM
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Sooooooo Funny Bud,your going to fit in just fine. J.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 10:28AM
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I have used almost every decking out there. I believe Procell or Azek decking to be the best. It is easy to work with, looks flawless we finished, cleans easy, and my Customers love it. The only thing is I prefer to frame my joists on 12" centers, because it seems to have a little more flex than other composites.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2008 at 3:00PM
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A very good post above. I researched composites before I had my deck built with a hollow PVC product. I think your comments about them are pretty much spot on.

"Hollow PVC has been around for about 8 years, is a niche product and has really never taken off. Consumers often do not like the springyness, hollow sound and creaking. They have fastening challenges."

As vanguardbuilders mentions a tighter joist spacing takes care of any perceived bouncyness. Not sure about the hollow sound, but there definitely is some creaking. It's most noticeable in cooler temps when the boards contract. During hotter temps its not very noticeable. I definitely agree that their are fastening challenges. Hollow PVC is a cost effective product, but IMO requires a lot of Homeowner/contractor interaction to ensure the deck gets built correctly. I think this alone would make it an unpopular choice for many.

To the mods whoever you are, Why does this forum lack the basics of quoting text that other forums have?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2008 at 11:50PM
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I have a procell deck in New England for over 2 years and I love it. Easy to keep clean, not too hot in summer, no mildew or scratches, looks nice with vinyl sided house, prox 14 x 24 with white vinyl railings. Professionally installed and installers said they liked working with it. I finally cleaned it myself this summer with a cheapo sears pressure washer only because I figured after two years I should clean it and it looked even better ( but it wasn't all that dirty) . Used white square lattice on the sides to finsh it off. Absolutely no problems with the materials at all. I recommend it.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 8:40PM
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How about Correct Deck CX?


    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 3:47PM
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When I built my deck it came down to CorrectDeck CX or Timbertech XLM. My contractor had a bad experience with CorrectDeck on his own house - though it was probably the older, regular CorrectDeck. And the local lumber yard stocked the XLM at a good price - so I went with that.

Both were harder than composites. I like the look of the CX better but they both looked OK for plastic. I think both had matching 12inch trim boards and hidden fasteners available.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 7:30AM
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Is anyone familiar with Yakimo composite decking materials?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 8:12PM
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I know this is a old forum but maybe I can be helpful. I am not only an Azek deck contractor but I'm also a client (sorry for the infomercial lingo). I have had a Brownstone Azek deck on my house for 7 years now and it still looks great! If it can be ruined my son, his friends and my dogs can ruin it but the deck has held up great. We pressure wash it once a year and it looks almost new evertime we wash it. I have had other composites in the past and Azek by far has been the best. That being said if you are having a deck professionally installed, ask for a deck tour (visit jobs your contractor has already completed). This is an extensive process but a composite deck should be on your home for 20+ years so do your research and make sure you are happy with your color and decking choices! There are many cellular PVC decking choices out there now but I still trust in the original ... Azek (formerly Procell). If anyone reads this that my two cents on this topic.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 1:10PM
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hi there, we are considering getting decking but are struggling with deciding on composite or wood. We like the idea of low maintenance but have been told that the composite can get really hot ( we have a south facing garden and small children) so this is a deciding factor.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2015 at 1:33PM
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pauline, are up asking a question? You would be better starting a new thread if your are as this one is years old.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2015 at 4:44AM
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