Synthetic Decking Update

The substrate in Deckorators' Vault decking is made with a proprietary technology called "Eovations" that the manufacturer claims has the industry's best strength-to-weight ratio. Weight per unit of volume is about that of PVC decking—35% less than standard composites—but it's stiffer and stronger, according to the company. The proprietary extrusion/drawing process creates a molecularly-oriented internal structure that actually has a grain and, like wood, is stronger across than parallel to the grain. The boards are capped with a polypropylene capstock that comes in two colors with a fairly flat sheen.

Gossen's new 30 Year Fade and Stain Limited Warranty applies to all of the company's cellular PVC Reàl, Passport, Trailways and Trailways|SV decking. The transferrable warranty protects homeowners against fading, staining, cracking, peeling, flaking, rotting, delamination, splitting, splintering, and structural damage from termites. The biggest advantage to PVC is that you can bend it to a 4-foot radius—a helpful quality when doing curved decks. On the downside, it is the most expensive of the three types.

AlluraUSA produces its new fiber-cement decking by adding plastic fibers and other additives to the mix to make the fiber cement pliable. The boards are a full 1 inch thick and 6 inches wide, and will span 16 inches on-center with a 406-lb. load rating. Although the product is new to the U.S., it has been sold in Costa Rica (where it's manufactured) for five years. Its advantages include a Class-A fire rating and the fact that it doesn’t heat up in the sun like PVC or wood-fiber composites. Boards weigh 3.1 pounds (compared with 2.5 for other composites) per linear foot and come with square or grooved edges.

A Tennessee dock-builder finds that today's uncapped decking stays mildew free even in a damp environment. As with all decking, however, it does need a yearly cleaning.

Fiberon's Paramount PVC Decking meets California code requirements for WUI areas, which is based on the International Residential Code (IRC) and requires a Class C or better Flame Spread Index (FSI). It's available in square and grooved profiles.

Fiberon's ProTect Advantage FR capped WPC decking also meets California code requirements for WUI areas. The capstock is formulated to be more fire resistant than the capstock used on standard decking products. It's available in square and grooved profiles.

Contractors who use uncapped decking are quite happy with its performance. Some customers prefer the flatter surface of uncapped decking.

ChoiceDek is sold through Lowes, but the manufacturer estimates that about half of purchases are by contractors. It's made by the same company as higher-priced MoistureShield, but only one side is embossed, while the other is scalloped to reduce weight.

Tamko Evergrain uncapped composite decking has earned a reputation for being durable and a good value, even in the rainy climate of the Pacific Northwest. A comparatively low cost compared with other synthetic decking is uncapped's biggest attraction for buyers. Some homeowners also prefer its flatter surface sheen. It will dry out faster than capped decking or PVC because the fibers in the material cause water to spread out on the surface and evaporate more quickly.

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