More and more homeowners are opting for composite materials when replacing a deck or building it from scratch. Composites contain a blend of ground-up wood, plastic, ultraviolet inhibitors and borate preservatives. These materials allow for reduced maintenance, minimal fading and longer life, with most coming with a 20-year warranty. Eco-friendly homeowners also appreciate that the plastic includes recycled shopping bags and milk jugs.

Composites do have their cons, though, which should be kept in mind when shopping. They have a higher initial cost, especially for the boards that look most like wood, and are more prone to scuffing, staining and slipperiness. These materials also get hot underfoot in darker colors.

Let's take a look at some of the products from leading composite deck manufacturers:

FiberOn

This company offers a wider range of composite decking products than most in the industry. There are five: Classic, Good Life, ProTect Advantage, Sanctuary, and Horizon with PermaTech.

Classic and Good Life offer deep, rich colors with natural wood grain patterns. Classic comes in two colors: Timber and Granite. Good Life comes in three: Villa, Cabin, andCottage.

ProTect Advantage adds a level of durability, stain and fade protection, plus mold and mildew resistance. It comes in four colors: Harbor Gray, Chestnut, Gray Birch, and Western Cedar.

Sanctuary has a Protective PermaTech surface that resists scratching, staining, splintering and fading, plus mold, termites and harsh weather conditions. It most resembles natural hardwood, with realistic wood grain and multi-chromatic colors. There are four: Earl Grey, Cocoa, Latte, and Espresso.

Horizon is the company's highest-end product. Its multi-colored boards have exotic, hardwood tones and grain patterns, plus the Protective PermaTech surface.

Classic comes with the company's 20-year limited performance warranty, with the other products offering a 25-year performance, stain, and fade warranty.

TAMKO

This company offers two composite decking products: EverGrain and EverGrain Envision .

EverGrain features a wood-like grain created by multiple grain patterns. It comes in five colors: Redwood, Cedar, Weathered Wood, Cape Cod Grey and Forest Green. The product's low moisture absorption helps protect the integrity of the board.

EverGrain Envision has more random patterns to allow for a more natural look. It comes in four colors: Shaded Auburn, Spiced Teak, GreyWood, and Rustic Walnut. Highlights within the color better emulate textures and variations found in real wood, as does the low-sheen outer layer. It also features a bonded outer layer for additional strength.

Both have a 20-year limited warranty against rotting, splintering, splitting and termite damage, and Envision comes with an additional warranty for certain stains.

Trex

Trex offers three composite decking products: Select, Enhance and Transcend.

Select features a high-performance shell that stands up to weather and spills, resisting stains and mold. It comes in five colors: Madeira, Pebble Grey, Saddle, Winchester Grey, and Woodland Brown.

Enhance offers higher-definition grain patter. It comes in three shades: Beach Dune, Clam Shell, and Saddle.

Transcend has the deepest wood-grain pattern. It comes in eight colors: Charcoal Black, Classic White, Firepit, Gravel Path, Rope Swing, Treehouse, and Vintage Lantern.

Select comes with the company's 25-year limited residential warranty, while Enhance and Transcend have a 25-year limited residential fade and stain warranty.

When deciding between the many composite decking materials-these are just a few available-ask multiple questions before going to the home improvement store or talking to your professional handyman.

  • How much do you have to spend? You will pay more for the boards with the most protection and the most wood-like appearance.
  • What is your environment? If the deck sits in the sun all day, you may want to opt for lighter woods that don't heat up as much. If you live in a wet climate, you will want to look for boards with texture to reduce slipperiness.
  • Is it important not to see fasteners on your deck? Invisible fastening systems add to the cost of the project.
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