Types of Decking

Posted on July 26th, 2016

Finishing Decks: Types of Decking

It is important to understand the type of wood or material being used prior to coating, to ensure the correct product is applied for optimum durability.  Types of decking available in the market today include wood, composite, and plastic.


  • Wooden decks can be composed of soft or hardwoods. These two classifications are not based on the density of the wood, but rather the type of tree the wood comes from.


  • Soft woods come from conifers and trees with needle-like foliage. Types of soft woods include: cedar, redwood, or southern yellow pine (SYP).


  • Hardwoods come from broad-leaved trees which drop leaves. Examples include:  Ipe and Philippine mahogany (Maranti).


Out of the five woods mentioned, Ipe is the densest, followed by Maranti, SYP, cedar, and redwood being the least dense.  Lower density woods tend to be more accepting of coatings.


  • Composite deck boards are produced from wood by-products and plastic. Wood by-products can include fibers, sawdust, and shavings.  The plastic portion of composites can be virgin polyethylene of high (HDPE) or low density (LDPE) or recycled plastic.  Decking boards are available in variety of colors and can have a smooth or textured surface.  These materials will fade, change color, mildew, stain or scratch with exposure to the elements.  Some manufacturers have started to encapsulate the decking boards with a thin layer of PVC for better protection. These boards can be difficult to coat depending upon their density and age.


  • Plastic PVC or vinyl decking is similar to composite decking. They can fade, mildew, stain, scratch, and change color over time.  Like composites, these boards can be manufactured with a textured tinted surface for appearance and slip resistance.  PVC decking can also be difficult to coat.


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