PVC vs. Composite Decking: What's the Difference?

If you want to add a deck to your home, you may feel overwhelmed by all the available options. From design to material, starting a new deck can be difficult. Construction technology has come a long way, and wood isn’t the only material you can choose for your deck anymore. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and composite deck materials are two popular choices for modern decks.

We have everything you need to compare PVC decking vs. composite for your next deck job. We cover what makes them different, how each could benefit you and PVC vs. composite decking costs in this comprehensive article. Learn more about these materials so you can start your deck as soon as possible.

How Are PVC and Composite Decking Different?

The main difference between composite and PVC decking is the material they’re made of. PVC is a type of durable, waterproof plastic that has no wood built into it. Composite decking is a blend of plastic and wood fibers.

While they have different compositions, PVC and composite decking are both:

  • Moisture-resistant
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Insect-resistant
  • Durable
  • Low maintenance

You’ll want to evaluate all your options before choosing your next decking material. The right deck material can improve your home’s value and increase the strength and durability of your deck.

PVC Overview

One of the best benefits of PVC is that it’s recyclable. PVC plastic is often made from already-recycled material, and when its life is up, it can be recycled into new material. This makes PVC more environmentally friendly than other decking materials. Capped PVC looks sleek and modern — you can purchase it in dozens of color options to match whatever color scheme you want.

Since PVC is 100% synthetic, it won’t mold, rot or scratch like wood. It doesn’t need regular touch-ups and refinishing like natural wood. It’s a low-maintenance option for any deck. The one potential downside is price. PVC is typically more expensive than composite decking, so you’ll need a higher budget to build a PVC deck.

Composite Overview

Composite Overview

Composite is another excellent, long-lasting deck material. It’s made from plastic and recycled wood fiber, making it more eco-friendly. Like PVC, it’s resistant to scratches and moisture and is more durable than a traditional wood deck. Solid composite boards resemble the weight, look and feel of wood, giving you all the benefits of wood with added strength.

In addition to being highly durable and long-lasting, composite comes in various colors and wood imitations. You can also get composite boards with hidden fasteners, creating a deck with a clean, uniform look. Composite’s wood fibers make it more slip-resistant and natural looking than PVC decking.

Finally, composite is usually less expensive than PVC, making it an excellent option for anyone looking to install a durable, low-maintenance deck on a budget.

Factors to Consider Before Buying PVC or Composite Decking

Selecting the right deck material is essential — you want a deck that will hold up for years. Consider what you want from your deck and how you will use it. Look for something that will match your design, budget and maintenance preferences. Additionally, you’ll want a deck that will withstand your local weather. The wetter or more varied in temperature your area is, the more water-resistant and durable you want your decking to be. Here are a few factors to consider when deciding if PVC or composite decking is better for you.


Since composite has natural wood fibers, it’s usually heavier than PVC. PVC’s lightness makes installation easier, but this can also affect how bouncy the deck feels when complete. Composite is heavier and will feel less flexible than PVC, but it needs sturdy wood supports installed for the structure.


PVC and composite will expand and contract slightly as temperatures change, which can affect the structure’s stability over time. Additionally, both decking materials are constructed with plastic. You’ll want to watch out when grilling — grease and hot coals can cause concentrated melting if left on the deck boards. Composite and PVC can heat up during the summer, making the deck hot and uncomfortable. You can reduce the heat by choosing a lighter color.

Life Span

The exact life span of your deck will depend on several factors, including the material, installation, maintenance and wear. On average, PVC and composite decking have similar life spans. You can expect both composite and PVC to last about 20 years as long as they are expertly installed and properly maintained.


There is little difference between composite decking and PVC costs, though composite often costs a little less. PVC and composite are typically more expensive upfront than wood. However, you’ll save money in the long term on repair and maintenance costs. Both PVC and composite require much less care and repairs than natural wood. When picking a deck, you’ll want to compare the initial material costs to the potential future repair and replacement costs.


PVC and composite are both low-maintenance and durable. They’ll need gentle sweeping or scrubbing to remove built-up dirt, but that’s about it. Depending on your climate, you might want to watch for moisture damage with composite. Since it’s made from wood fibers, there’s still a potential for mold, but it’s rare. Both materials are much lower maintenance than natural wood, which requires regular paint, sealant or stain applications every few years.


Both materials offer a range of colors and styles for your deck. Composite looks and feels slightly more realistic than PVC due to the wood fibers inside it. It’s more slip-resistant than PVC and comes in many colors and finishes. It can even mimic certain exotic woods for a more sophisticated deck. PVC also comes in dozens of colors and styles, but it looks less like wood than composite.

Build Your Next Deck With Garrety Glass

Build Your Next Deck With Garrety Glass

Whether you’re interested in wood or composite decking materials, Garrety Glass has the options you need. With over 20 years of experience, you can trust the experts at Garrety Glass to provide a strong, long-lasting deck you can enjoy year-round. Expand your outdoor space with our deck, window and sunroom services for an elevated living experience.

We’re a customer-focused company, so you can expect top-tier communication and service. We’ll work with you to construct the best deck as efficiently as possible so you can start enjoying your outdoor space in no time. If you’re interested in upgrading your outdoor living area, contact us for your free quote online today!