recliners on modern low maintenance deck with steps

What is Low-Maintenance Decking?

Published On: October 12th, 2022

Adding a deck to your outdoor space can be a great way to create additional living space where you can entertain family and friends. But most decks require a fair bit of work to keep them looking nice, including regular sweeping and cleaning, not to mention regular re-staining.

Fortunately, there are many low-maintenance options that allow you to spend less time working on your deck and more time enjoying it.

3 Types of Decking Materials

Low maintenance decking encompasses three types of decking materials: composite, capped composite, and vinyl (PVC).

Uncapped varieties of composite decking were the first version of low-maintenance decking and are made of a combination of wood and plastic materials. These boards are manufactured using recycled plastic combined with scraps from timber mills, and this wood and plastic mixture is blended until it forms a dense core. The result is a product that both looks attractive and is extremely durable. However, this low-maintenance decking is more vulnerable to fading and staining than the newer capped composite version.

Capped composite decking is made in a similar manner; however, it has an outer and completely non-organic shell – or cap – on it. This capping provides the added benefit of being UV resistant and available in a wide variety of colours.

Depending on the manufacturer, the cap may be on one side of the board, or it may completely encase the board. To make these boards appear more like natural wood, grain patterns can be embossed on them.

The third option for low-maintenance decking – vinyl (PVC) – contains no organic materials. PVC boards usually have a vinyl foam core and vinyl cap. Manufactured from recycled plastics, PVC is a good option for any eco-conscious homeowner. The lack of any wood in the product means that this type of decking is extremely low maintenance and is not susceptible to mold or mildew.

PVC is also harder and more scratch resistant than composite boards – and because the colour is embedded in the plastic and not just applied to the top, it holds its colour better. Many PVC boards look just as nice if not nicer than the capped composites.

Comparing the performance of low-maintenance decking materials

Just like other types of decking materials, it is essential that composite boards have room to expand and contract with changes in temperature. These boards are durable but can crack and split along the edges if not installed by professionals who follow manufacturing guidelines.

Capped composite decking resolves much of this issue with its protective coating.

There is zero concern about rotting with vinyl decking since the vinyl is completely water-tight and does not hold moisture.

In addition to standing up better against the elements than traditional wood decking, all types of low-maintenance decking are extremely easy to clean with mild soap and water.

If you are thinking about adding a deck to your home but are concerned about the amount of upkeep, consider using one of these low-maintenance options.