Composite Decking Buying Guide
| Fact Checked By: Sonal Agarwal
Published: August 14, 2018 | Updated: March 18, 2022
Do you want a beautiful deck that’s also low maintenance? With composite decking, you can have both! Keep reading to learn more about decking out your backyard with this natural wood alternative.
Reading a book while the sun sets. Watching the kids run around with their friends. Enjoying burgers off the grill with your family.
Time spent on your patio deck is serene and priceless.
Until it comes time to sand and stain that deck…again.
Your deck doesn’t have to come with a high-maintenance beauty plan. Fortunately, there’s a low-maintenance alternative to a natural wood deck that’s just as attractive – composite decking. Here’s everything you need to know to create your own outdoor retreat with synthetic decking materials.
What is Composite Decking?
Composite decking is a man-made decking material made of equal parts recycled wood fibers and recycled plastic. This alternative to natural wood decking is becoming the fastest-growing decking option on the market. So, what is it that homeowners love about this new trend?
The ability to relax on a beautiful deck without the hassle of maintaining it.
Durable and made to last, the best composite decking products simulate the beautiful appearance of natural wood without the maintenance and upkeep. Instead of logging hours building, staining or re-sanding your deck, you’ll actually have more time to relax and enjoy it!
Less hard labor and more relaxation are among the best perks, but people are going with synthetic decking over natural wood for many reasons.
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About Composite Deck Tiles: Stylish and Affordable
Composite deck tiles are one of the most popular composite decking options. Tiles are by far the easiest decking option to install. With easy snap-together interlocks, the tiles are easy enough for a child to install them…seriously! And doesn’t that sound like a fun family project?
Our composite decking tiles are 12” x 12” and come in a variety of thicknesses. Each tile only weighs around 2lbs, so this flooring is a durable yet lightweight solution for elevated porches, decks, and even balconies. Not every outdoor flooring option works or looks good on a smaller upstairs balcony. Composite deck tiles do!
Composed of plastic and bamboo, these plastic tiles are great as flooring for any outdoor space, but that’s not the only thing they’re good for. You can also install them indoors, in areas like enclosed porches, greenhouses, and more.
Composite decking gives you more options when choosing the look and feel of your deck or patio. You can either use these tiles to build a completely new deck or lay them over your existing deck to give it a total modern makeover! Whether you hope to entertain guests or retreat to your deck as a quiet place, you can customize your deck to match your style. Depending on the brand, tiles may come in red, gray, or brown.
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How to Install Composite Decking Tiles
Your summer deck doesn’t have to take the whole summer to build. Because synthetic decking tiles interlock, they’re incredibly user-friendly and easy to install.
- When you’re ready to install your composite deck tiles, start with a clean, level subfloor. Densely compacted subfloors such as concrete, asphalt, and wood are recommended.
- Start in the front left corner and make sure the sides of the tile with loops are facing away from the edge. Align the pegs of one tile with the holes of the adjacent tile and set them in.
- Work your way around the edges of the deck, creating a perimeter with the tiles. Then fill the rest of the space.
- If you run into any walls or barriers, measure the gap between the last full tile and the wall, then cut the tile accordingly with a table saw, jigsaw or tile cutter. You’ll want to use a composite material blade when making the cuts. When doing so, be sure to add a ¾” space between the tile and all edges to allow for expansion and contraction.
- If your product comes with edge pieces, snap these onto the tiles to complete the installation.
After that, all that’s left to do is sit back on your favorite deck chair and relax!
Composite Decking Maintenance
One of the key perks of choosing composite over natural wood is the low maintenance required to keep its beautiful appearance. Plenty can go wrong with natural wood – yearly sealing treatment, termites, wood rot…no thank you
Composite wood decking tiles are easy to clean and maintain. When your deck gets dirty, simply sweep up any loose crumbs, dust or debris, then hose it off or mop up stains with a mild soap-and-water mixture. Voila!
Benefits of Composite Deck Tiles: What Makes them Great
Composite decking is made from bamboo, plastic and glue composite. Bamboo is a sustainable, eco-friendly material that regrows faster than hardwood. This makes composite decking a more environmentally sustainable choice than solid wood decking.
Easy to Install
This DIY-friendly decking requires no glue or nails. The peg and loop installation system allows you to easily snap tiles together. In a matter of hours you can have a completely updated deck or patio.
Your deck has to deal with a lot: sun, rain, ice, and snow. It makes sense that you want your investment to be durable. Composite decking is built to withstand everything Mother Nature can throw at it and still remain beautiful and durable.
Solid wood decking requires special sealant to keep it from absorbing water after rain and snow. Meanwhile, composite decking is already designed to be water resistant. It won’t absorb moisture or warp, no matter how wet it gets outside.
Mold and Mildew Resistant
You know how wood decks can get dull and mildewy after a few years, and then you have to find some way to clean it without damaging the wood? Well, that doesn’t happen with composite decks. The bamboo and glue composition keeps it pristine and hassle-free.
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Composite Decking Price Range: An Affordable Investment
Everything you read will tell you that composite decking is more expensive than wood, but that just is not the case. Pressure-treated wood will run you $15-25 per square foot, while higher end woods will run $25+ (source). High-end composite decking cost may cost a little more than that in the short term, but in the long run, it’s a different story. So let’s compare the top end composite to the bottom end wood:
$15/sqft + installation at $9/sqft + yearly refinishing at $3-$6.80/sq ft. (average cost of refinishing in 2020 via Home Advisor) on a 200 sq ft deck = $4,800 initial cost, but just look at how that $3/sqft sealing adds up over time. At $600/year, that adds to a total (including purchase and installation) of $28,800 over 40 years. Umm, that is CRAZY!
$17/sqft + installation at $9/sqft on a 200 sqft deck = $5,200 with no treatments needed. Then you save $600 on sealing each year, which adds up to a savings of $23,600 savings over 40 years. I’m not kidding. Composite decking will literally save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Composite Decking vs. Solid Wood Decking: Which is Better?
Natural wood has historically been the go-to material for decking, but advances in technology are creating more options. Composite decking is quickly becoming the No. 1 decking alternative on the market. With affordable pricing and easy DIY installation, composite decking takes the cake. Check out this head-to-head comparison between composite decking and wood to discover what makes composite a better and cheaper option than traditional wood decking.
Best Composite Decking Options
Helios Deck Tiles (4 Slat)
Helios Outdoor Decking Tiles are the perfect solution to complete your outdoor oasis. Made from a sustainable bamboo and glue mixture, these tiles are eco-friendly and more sustainable that solid wood.
Just because they’re eco-friendly doesn’t mean they’re not also durable. In fact, these deck tiles are designed to last, and they require minimal upkeep. There’s no painting, sealing, or sanding required. Plus, this composite decking is resistant to fading, insect damage, and scratching, so you can enjoy the great outdoors without having to worry about your deck.
Helios Deck Tiles (6 Slat)
The stylish and geometric 6 slat design of these deck tiles makes them a popular choice for patio and deck upgrades. Along with all that style, there’s plenty of substance. These tiles are specifically designed to withstand harsh weather and outdoor environments. They resist scratching and fading, so they’re certain to look brand new even after long sunny days spent outside enjoying the deck with pets and lots of foot traffic.
Best of all, these composite deck tiles require virtually no maintenance. Unlike with solid wood decking, you don’t need to sand, seal, or paint the surface. All you have to do is install and enjoy.
Helios Deck Tiles (8 Slat)
These eco-friendly deck tiles and feature a contemporary 8 slat design that looks great in any space. Couple that style with incredibly simple DIY installation, and this deck flooring is a dream come true.
Resistant to harsh weather and insects, our deck tiles are the perfect outdoor flooring solution for your needs. These deck tiles are built to last, and designed to resist mold and mildew. They won’t fade or scratch easily either. The slatted design also keeps the surface dry by allowing water to flow through and not cause moisture buildup.
Naturesort Deck Tiles – Terrace (4 Slat)
These plastic and bamboo composite deck tiles are designed to make your outdoor space stylish and comfortable. Built-in resistance to weather and insects makes this deck flooring a low-maintenance, pest-free solution.
Because they’re water and fade resistant, you can use these tiles in any outdoor setting, including patios, outdoor showers, and more. The 4 slat design and contemporary colors ensure that these tiles can fit with any style.
Helios Artificial Grass Deck Tiles
This decking option is a little bit different, and it’s more like an accessory to composite decking. Helios Artificial Grass Deck Tiles provide the feel and look of real grass without the maintenance hassles. These tiles will give your deck, patio or any area really, the perfect natural grass look you’ve always wanted.
Like other composite deck tiles, these artificial grass tiles are easy to install, and they interlock with our Helios Deck Tiles so you can create a custom outdoor space. Plus, the tiles are designed with a self-drainage system that takes care of excess moisture after it rains.
Composite Decking FAQ
Is composite decking worth the cost?
Composite decking is a much more long-lasting solution than a natural wood deck, so you save money in the long term, even if the initial price tag is a bit higher. Wood decking can be an incredibly spendy investment between materials, installation and treatments over the years.
Because composite decking can be installed without professional help and doesn’t require treatments every couple of years, it ends up being much cheaper in the long run. Essentially, what you pay up front in costs you get back in time – hours of labor, hours to relax and hours to enjoy your deck as intended.
Can composite decking be used indoors?
Yes! Composite decking tiles are quite versatile. Customers have used them for sunrooms, balconies and more!
Can composite decking be painted or stained?
Composite decking is built to resist peeling and fading, so you shouldn’t have to worry about painting or staining. However, if you’re feeling buyer’s remorse over the color of deck tiles you bought, you can absolutely paint your composite deck.
Be sure to wash and sand the deck first. Then, find a high-quality deck paint that states that it can be used on synthetic or composite surfaces.
Can composite decking be laid on concrete?
You bet! If you’re tired of an old concrete patio, avoid the cost of tearing it down by installing beautiful composite decking over it. This article on building a deck over a patio shows you the step-by-step process.
Does composite decking get hot?
Because plastics do retain heat more than traditional wood, composite deck tiles will get warmer if they are in a sunny area. However, they will still remain cooler than concrete, and you can combat the heat by choosing a lighter color.
What do I clean composite decking with?
Composite decking tiles are incredibly easy to clean and maintain. Simply vacuum or sweep loose crumbs, dust and debris as needed. Then, you can hose off or damp mop the floor with a mild soap-and-water mixture for tough stains or caked-on dirt.
Building a new deck or upgrading an old one is a big decision, so you want to make sure you choose the right material. With easy installation and tons of features to maintain durability, composite decking is one of the best options on the market for deck flooring.
Ready to create your own dream deck?