A rose is still a rose by any other name . . . so goes decking material made with the chemical Polyvinyl Chloride. It is known as PVC decking, vinyl decking, plastic decking or recycled decking. It is 100% recyclable plastic and contains no wood. It was introduced to the decking industry in the mid 1990s as a low maintenance, stain and moisture resistant decking material alternative to pressure treated decking. Vinyl decking or PVC decking can be hollow, or solid and can be installed as planks or tongue and groove, which conceals the fasteners. If vinyl decking is hollow it will be capped (or wrapped) with PVC. No matter what you call it – it looks and feels like plastic.
PVC decking provides design flexibility. Color selection is unlimited. You can find it in with various surface texture and it can be produced to resemble wood. PVC decking or vinyl decking is an affordable alternative to other decking material available on the market today. That said, the price depends on the quality and style. If it emulates details of natural wood you can count on it being more costly. Also, PVC decking is relatively easy to install so installation costs make the project cost of building the deck affordable.
A deck built with PVC decking may fade, and become brittle and crack with prolong exposure to UV rays. Additionally, PVC or vinyl decking is not easy to repair and if necessary, the entire deck may need to be replaced.
If you are looking for an environmentally friendly material, PVC decking or vinyl decking may not be for you. Green Building Advisor’s online article on Decks and Porches provides insight into recycled decking: “Plastic decking made from recycled material has an environmental advantage over material made with virgin plastic. PVC decking, however, is difficult to recycle, produces hazardous by-products in its manufacture, and releases dioxin and other contaminants when burned. When choosing plastic decking, look for brands with high recycled content.”