Before you select between plastic and wood for your decking, ask yourself one question: Where’s your deck? If your deck is in sunlight or in the colour for nearly all the day — especially in summertime, when it’ll 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, price, style and upkeep should factor into your choice, too. We talked to four Roofing experts from throughout the country to discover how to select a decking material.

Ogne Roofing & Remodeling

Kinds of Decking
Plastic: 100% plastic sheeting is stain resistant and will not crack, warp or splinter. It doesn’t require any completing. Some plastic decking consists of new plastic; others are partly or completely recycled. Composite: This decking is made from wood fibers (generally recycled maple sawdust) and recycled plastic. Dense, stain and weather resistant, it will not splinter, warp or rust. Wood: Most of today’s hardwood decks are made from cedar, redwood (pictured), pressure-treated walnut or ipe, a renewable tropical wood. It is possible to find sustainably produced variants of most hardwoods, such as bamboo, cedar, redwood and ipe. Make sure that you purchase wood from a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified firm to prevent illegally harvested wood.
Charlie Jourdain, President of the California Redwood Association, says considerably more people have started using composite and plastic decking over the previous ten decades, and Denny Rossi of Seal It Green agrees. “Michigan seems to favor composite and plastic decking, and now plastic-capped composites because the ever-growing area of less upkeep materials evolves,” Rossi says.

Clemens Jellema of Fine Decks Inc. in Maryland now installs virtually all composite decking for his clientele. Capped composite decking, in particular — where the composite is coated in a thin, plastic substance — has become popular for its durability and speedy installation.

Fine Decks Inc

Heat Resistance

“In the time composites and plastics were made, there was not a lot of idea as to how they would perform in heat,” Jourdain says.

While composites and plastics have their benefits, relaxation on a hot day isn’t one of these. “Composites and plastics may get so hot, you can not walk on them” Rossi says. Capped composites are not any different. “The plastic layer surrounding the composite holds heat,” Jellema says. “However, the lighter the colour, the less heat it retains.”

This photograph: Azek plastic sheeting

Because of this, many professionals recommend using wood in ponds with extra hot summers. Tropical forests, for example ipe and teak, weather and wear well. However, some of the wood is dark, so it retains more heat than lighter woods, like the commonly used pressure-treated Southern yellow pine.

Redwood will be the West Coast’s — chiefly California’s — overriding decking material because of its reasonable price tag, low maintenance and trendy surface. “Redwood is definitely the least expensive material in California because there’s a lot of it,” says California builder Bonny Weil. “Manufacturing costs are extremely low, versus a composite decking plank that might take a lot of time to make, so it will be about twice as far.”

This photograph: Pine decking

Bonny Weil General Contractor


No matter what material you select for your deck, it is going to need upkeep — a minimum of one yearly cleaning. Most composites and plastics need a frequently applied finish (once or twice per year) to keep out of fading, but most decking timber could be left unfinished or finished. While timber is more vulnerable to rust and mold, mildew spots are more difficult to remove from plastic and composite sheeting.

This photograph: Redwood decking

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Composite or plastic sheeting may be twice as expensive as wooden decking because the materials cost more and the structure will be extensive. Composite decking is not as rigid as timber, so it usually requires more support to prevent sagging. This can easily add hundreds of dollars to your decking price.

Here are some average prices for a finished deck each square foot, based on Rossi and Jellema. Note that costs will fluctuate based on location, design features and structure costs.

Estimated cost for a complete deck each square foot:
Pressure-treated timber: $15-$25 Cedar: $24-$45Composite: $32-$45Redwood: $30Top-end plastic: $48Ipe: $55This photograph: Redwood decking

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