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Composite Decking Buying Guide

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 composite materials.

What is Composite Decking?

Outdoor Flooring Explained
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.

Why Choose Composite Decking Over Wood?

FlooringInc Helios Composite Deck Tiles

Composite decking is becoming the No. 1 decking alternative on the market. Here are just a few reasons why you might choose this man-made material over a natural wood deck:

  • Easier to maintain: Composite wood decking products will not splinter or warp like natural wood planks do. The material is protected and essentially encased in a plastic barrier that helps prevent the growth of mold and mildew, so there’s no need to stain or finish the surface!
  • Easier to clean: Wood is notorious for being high-maintenance. Expansion, contraction, termites, wood rot, re-sanding, refinishing – the list goes on and on! With composite wood decking, simply clean off your deck with soap and water when it gets dirty. The end.
  • Quick and easy installation: Composite decking tiles and boards look and feel like real wood, but they don’t even need to be acclimated – you can start installing as soon you get them.
  • Fire resistant: We all know wood burns, but composite floors are made to be fire resistant, keeping your floor and, most importantly, your family safe.
  • Bug resistant: Because insects prefer natural wood, you can enjoy more bug-free nights on your deck!
  • The economically smart choice: Any research you do will tell you that synthetic decking is more expensive than wood. But when you look at the price of your deck over its lifespan, natural wood will end up costing you far more.

Composite Deck Tiles

Flooring Inc Helios Deck Tiles with dog paws

Composite deck tiles are by far the easiest flooring option to install in our selection of decking products. 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?

Composed of recycled plastic and bamboo, these plastic tiles are great as flooring for any outdoor deck, patio or even a balcony. Not every outdoor flooring option works or looks good on a smaller upstairs balcony. Composite deck tiles do!

Not only are they good for outdoor spaces, but they can be installed indoors as well. Our composite tiles feature several slatted designs and come in a multitude of colors, so you can literally deck out your sunroom with gorgeous flooring to match your style.

Pros of Composite Deck Tiles

  • Won’t warp, rot, split or splinter
  • Never have to stain or paint!
  • Eco-friendly
  • Easy to install
  • Resistant to harsh weather and insects
  • Fade resistant
  • Versatile for indoor/outdoor use

Cons of Composite Deck Tiles

  • Heat: Plastics retain heat more than traditional wood and therefore will get warmer under the sun.
  • Bragging rights: Yeah, yeah…it’s not real wood. If you’re someone who really cares about using real wood, then composite might not be for you.
  • Cost: Yes, this option is the better investment in the long run, but composite deck tiles will still run you a pretty penny.

Composite Deck Tiles Sizing

Our composite decking tiles are 12’ x 12’ and ¾ in. thick, weighing about 2 lbs. per tile. One case comes with 11 tiles, which will cover 11 sq. ft.

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.

Starting with a clean subfloor, simply align the pegs of one tile with the holes of the adjacent tile and set them in. No struggle or elbow grease is needed for putting your new floor covering together!

All that’s left to do is sit back on your favorite deck chair and relax!

Composite Deck Boards

Flooring Inc Composite Deck Boards

Composite decking boards are lighter than wood and easy to transport, which can also make them easier to install. Tongue and groove composite decking boards easily click into place, diminishing any worries over when your spacing between boards is even.

Deck boards can certainly change up any outdoor space by adding some beauty and a feeling of luxury. Durable and low-maintenance, the best composite decking boards come in a variety of colors. With these eco-friendly boards, you can find the exact look you’re going for without having to keep up with a traditional deck’s high-maintenance beauty routine.

Pros of Composite Decking Boards

  • Won’t warp, rot, split or splinter
  • Fade, stain, scratch and mold resistant
  • Never have to stain or paint!
  • Easy to install, lighter than natural wood boards
  • Eco-friendly
  • Durable
  • Attractive
  • Low maintenance

Cons of Composite Decking Boards

  • Heat: Plastics retain heat more than traditional wood and therefore will get warmer under the sun.
  • Bragging rights: Yeah, yeah…it’s not real wood. If you’re someone who really cares about using real wood, then composite might not be for you.
  • Cost: Yes, this option is the better investment in the long run, but composite deck boards will still run you a pretty penny.

Composite Deck Boards Sizing

Composite decking boards vary in width and are available in the following sizes:

Boards also come in varying levels of thickness:


How to Install Composite Deck Boards

No need to waste your whole summer building your deck. Composite decking boards are lightweight and easy to work with. However, you may want to get an early start before the material heats up under the sun.

Each composite decking brand and installation is unique, so it’s best to consult the manufacturer’s installation instructions before even purchasing your boards. In any case, here are a few things to consider when installing composite decking boards:

  • Framing: While composite decking is a great alternative to natural wood decking, it will still need to be supported by a pressure-treated wood frame.
  • Spacing: Check your manufacturer’s instructions for proper sizing and spacing of beams and joists. Because composite decking materials are prone to thermal expansion, you’ll need to be aware of the specific requirements for gapping and spacing depending on the climate of where you live. You may notice some movement across the length of the boards as they heat and cool, but proper spacing will keep them from buckling.
  • Fastening: Use composite deck screws when fastening boards to treated wood joists. These screws are specially designed to help hold the material in place.

Composite Decking Colors and Patterns

rigid core vinyl plank with vintage decor

Composite decking gives you more options when choosing the look and feel of your deck or patio. Whether you hope to entertain guests or retreat to your deck as a quiet place, you can customize your deck to match your style. Get creative with colors and patterns to create your dream deck!

Depending on the brand, tiles and boards may come in the following colors:

Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring has a stone-plastic composite core. That means its core is super dense and basically practically indestructible. Seriously. It’s really tough stuff.


Related content >> Outdoor Flooring Trends


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 and boards 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!

Composite Decking Prices

wood-look vinyl plank flooring with high heels

Everything you read will tell you that synthetic 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). Our high-end composite decking runs $9-17 per square foot.

So let’s compare the top end composite to the bottom end wood. Check out our chart to the left to see how the two match up in price over the years.


$15/sqft + installation at $9/sqft + yearly sealing at $3/sq ft. (average cost of sealing in 2016 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.

Comparing Composite Decking Brands

FlooringInc Helios Deck Tiles Flooring Inc Naturesort Deck Tiles Century Outdoor Living Composite Decking Boards EP Decking boards Trex composite decking
Helios Naturesort Century Outdoor Living EP Decking Trex
Tiles and Boards
Thickness 3/4" 3/4" 7/8" thick tile, .8" thick board 1" 1"
Durability 4 4 3 4 5
20 year
20 year
20 year
25 year
25 year
Quick Ship Yes No No No No


Helios Deck Tiles are our No. 1 composite decking product. Customers love the way they look and that they can install them in just a few hours. Additionally, these tiles boast the following features:

  • Versatile and durable
  • Attractive design
  • Comfortable under bare feet (and paws!)
  • Quick and easy installation
  • Can be used indoors or outdoors
  • Low price


Although they come in at a higher price than the Helios tiles, Naturesort Deck Tiles share similar qualities and features. The biggest difference is that Naturesort holds a little more weight per tile, which may give it a slant in the durability category. Pros of Naturesort Deck Tiles include:

  • Fade and weather resistant
  • Durable
  • 20-year warranty
  • Easy snap-together installation

Century Outdoor Living

As we go down the list, the price goes up. This brand offers tiles in brown, red or grey to help you get the desired look you’re after. The biggest difference with these tiles is they are slightly thicker at ⅞ inch compared to the other tiles at ¾ inch. Century Outdoor Living offers composite decking boards as well. Other features include:

  • Tiles are an easy snap-together installation
  • Versatile and durable
  • Eco-friendly
  • 20-year warranty
  • Insect and weather resistant

EP Decking

EP Decking specializes in composite manufacturing, producing eco-friendly material used for not only decking, but wall cladding, pergola, fencing and landscaping products. Features of their decking boards include:

  • Less weight than other boards
  • Durable
  • Attractive
  • 25-year warranty


Trex composite decking boards come in a nice variety of modern, neutral colors and feature a refined wood grain. Highlights of Trex include:

  • Color options
  • Fade, stain, scratch and mold resistant
  • Eco-friendly
  • 25-year warranty

Composite Decking FAQs

From cleaning and maintenance to getting the most out of your composite deck, here are our answers to a few more common customer questions.
Q) Is composite decking worth the cost?
A) You might not like the price tag that comes with composite decking, but the fact is that it is a much more long-lasting solution than a natural wood deck. Wood decking can be an incredibly spendy investment between materials, installation and treatments.

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.

Q) Can composite decking be used indoors?
A) Yes! Composite decking tiles and boards are quite versatile. Customers have used them for sunrooms, balconies and more!

Q) Can composite decking be painted or stained?
A) 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.

Q) Can composite decking be laid on concrete?
A) 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.

Q) What do I clean composite decking with?
A) Composite decking tiles and boards 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.

Composite Decking Reviews

Here’s what customers are saying about our composite decking products:

Helios Tiles

Helios Deck Tiles

“I love my new patio floor and have gotten tons of compliments. It was super easy to install. The whole thing was done in 3 hours and would have been half that if I didn’t have the planter boxes. I would totally recommend.” - Tonya from San Franciso, CA

Naturesort Deck Tiles

Flooring Inc. Naturesort Deck Tiles

“We covered a small deck off of our sunroom with the snap together floor tiles. Putting the tiles down was quick and easy, and we are very pleased with the results!” - Clark L. from Vancouver, WA
Ready to create your dream deck?