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CorrectDeck CX

According to the maker, CorrectDeck’s blend of 60 percent recovered hardwood fiber and 40 percent polypropylene (part reclaimed) gives the material unusual rigidity. A solid layer of polypropylene encases the exposed wood fibers on the top and sides of each board, providing extra resistance to fading, staining, and water absorption. The surface layer includes UV inhibitors and an antimicrobial agent that resists mold and mildew growth. CorrectDeck has a wood-grain texture and comes in three wood tones plus tan, sage, and gray. Matching railing and trim boards are available as well. Correct Building Products, 877/332-5877,


Hollow planks make CrossTimbers decking 30 percent lighter than solid composites. The product’s hollow-core cross-section is engineered for stiffness, giving the 5/4x6 Professional series an allowable span of 24 inches. (The lighter 1x4 Classic line spans 16 inches.) Constructed of polypropylene and nonwood organic material, the decking can be either predrilled and screwed or installed with hidden clips that lock into the grooved sides. Matching L-trim serves as an end cap; matching fascia and railings are available. The fire-resistant version of the Professional decking meets the requirements of the California fire code. GAF-Elk, 866/322-7452,


The polyethylene-wood composite used for Fiberon Professional decking contains 80 percent recycled and reclaimed materials. The product comes in several colors and wood tones with an embossed wood grain on both sides and a 5/4x6 profile. Only one fastener is needed at each joist (two at ends), a feature the manufacturer says speeds installation. The company also sells matching railings and accessories. Fiber Composites, 800/573-8841,


This hollow composite is made from partly recycled polyethylene and a combination of wood fiber and minerals that reportedly reduces fading. It comes in three profiles: 5/4x6 T&G (for covered areas), 5/4x6 square-edge, and 2x8 heavy-duty. All are sold in cedar, mahogany, and driftwood colors. Square-edge GeoDeck is surface-nailed or screwed. T&G installs with concealed trim-head screws or ring-shank siding nails and must be sloped and gapped for drainage and expansion; it also needs to be well-ventilated underneath. The maker offers a matching line of end caps, fascia boards, risers, and railing systems. LDI Composites, 877/804-0137,


Made from 90 percent recycled material — a 50-50 blend of wood fiber and polyethylene — MoistureShield meets the LEED environmental standard for residential decking. According to the manufacturer, it can withstand high moisture conditions, including contact with the ground. It comes in 5/4x6 and 2x6 sizes with a ribbed bottom for extra rigidity and ventilation over joists, and is sold in seven colors, all with a deeply embossed wood-grain finish. Typical installation is with stainless steel trim-head screws, two at each end and one or two at each joist; grooved edges for hidden fasteners are available by special order. The company offers a full line of matching trim and railings. Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies, 866/729-2378,

Rhino Deck

The wood-polyethylene composite used for Rhino Deck products contains 100 percent recycled and reclaimed wood and plastic. Additives resist mold growth. The decking is offered in 5/4x6, 2x4, and 2x6 dimensions in several embossed wood-grain finishes. The 5/4x6 planks come square-edged or grooved with companion hidden fasteners. The maker sells matching fascia boards, bendable trim, and railings. Rhino Deck, 800/535-4838,


Both Tamko decking lines are made of a mix of wood fiber and polyethylene, but the amount of recycled content differs: 100 percent in the Elements series and up to 70 percent in the premium EverGrain line. Elements planks are extruded with a wood-grain surface and come in three colors; EverGrain boards are compression-molded for a deeply embossed wood texture and come in seven colors. Matching extruded skirting is available. Both types of decking are sold in 1x4, 1x6, 2x4, and 2x6 dimensions and install with decking screws or hidden fasteners (not supplied). Tamko, 800/641-4691,


Only reclaimed wood is used in TimberTech polyethylene-wood composite decking, says the company. The product is offered in a variety of profiles and finishes, including 11/2x6 T&G hollow planks (Floorizon) and 5/4x6 solid boards (Earthwood and TwinFinish) with optional grooved sides to accept hidden fasteners. Earthwood comes in tropical hardwood colors; TwinFinish planks have an embossed wood grain on one side and a brushed finish on the other. T&G planks are designed for concealed screws and have weep holes for drainage. Solid planks can be installed with surface fasteners or with a manufacturer-supplied concealed clip. Matching trim pieces are available. TimberTech, 800/307-7780,


The plastic in Trex — the original recycled-content composite lumber — is about 50 percent recycled or reclaimed. (Seven out of 10 recycled grocery bags in the U.S. end up in Trex, says the maker.) The wood content also is 50 percent reclaimed, from sources like sawdust and wood pallets. Trex decking comes in a range of colors and textures in 5/4x6 and 2x6 planks, most of which are available grooved for the company’s hidden fastener clips. Among the more recent introductions are Trex Origins, a bendable plank for curved installations, and Trex Accents Fire Defense, which has a Class B fire rating and exceeds California’s fire regulations. Trex, 800/289-8739,

The Cellular PVC Alternative

Cellular PVC decking has become the fastest growing segment of the alternative decking market, thanks mostly to claims by manufacturers that it needs less maintenance than wood-plastic composites. Industry leaders Azek, Fiber Composites, TimberTech, Trex, and Veka have all recently added cellular PVC decking to their product lines. Touting its low-maintenance appeal, TimberTech named its product XLM for “extreme low maintenance.”

Cellular PVC — essentially the same material used in Azek’s popular exterior trim boards and moldings — has a weight and workability similar to that of pine and supposedly resists fading, staining, and scratching better than composites. Makers say that because it has a hard outer layer of PVC or acrylic and no wood content, cellular PVC doesn’t absorb stains and won’t support the growth of mold or decay fungi. (That doesn’t mean, however, that a pile of wet leaves left sitting on a deck over the winter won’t leave surface stains — on this or any other material.)


Several manufacturers have introduced cellular PVC decking. Shown here are TimberTech’s XLM (top), Fiber Composites’ Sanctuary (the two center boards), and Azek Deck (the curved board at bottom).

The product’s lack of wood content is also one of its drawbacks: It looks more like plastic than most wood-plastic composites do. Manufacturers are trying to address this with less-shiny matte finishes, more realistic wood colors and textures, and darker hues. For example, Fiber Composites’ Sanctuary line and TimberTech’s XLM planks both come in colors that mimic ipe and driftwood. The end result is a fairly genuine-looking board.

While all-PVC decking typically has a higher rate of thermal expansion than wood-plastic composites, manufacturers control movement by including inorganic fillers or additives (or in the case of Azek Deck, a flax product made from agricultural waste). End-to-end spacing is comparable to that of composites. Though not as strong and stiff as most composites, cellular PVC is generally rated for a 16-inch span under normal residential loads. And despite its mainly plastic content, some cellular PVC decking products have achieved a Class A flame-spread rating and have been approved by the state of California and San Diego County for new construction in areas prone to wildfires.

With a price point as much as 20 percent higher than that of wood-plastic composites, cellular PVC decking will appeal primarily to customers whose top priority is low maintenance. It’s particularly well-suited to poolside, beachfront, and similar high-moisture environments.