Thinking of using composite for your backyard outdoor living area? Composite decks are solid, high-quality, and require no painting or staining like other decking alternatives.
Composite decking has become a great alternative to natural timber and has many advantages to its use. It is an environmentally friendly choice among other benefits such as being low-maintenance, the durability from becoming weathered including, cracking, splitting and rotting and has slip-resistant properties. It is available in a vast range of colours and designs and as more advancements are made for composite decking the more popular it becomes.
It is no shock that homeowners are choosing to use composite decking boards, however, one of the biggest concerns is “does composite decking get too hot?” and “how warm does composite compare to treated wood?”
When homeowners invite people over, they want to be able to use their deck even at the peak of summer. We’re here to help you get an answer and better understand the factors that affect the temperature of any deck and how to keep your deck cool.
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Both Wood & Composite Decking Are Hot
Wood & Composite Transfer Heat Differently
The heat that comes off of composite decking is only on the surface. Composite transfers heat faster than natural wood does, making the initial contact with the composite feel hotter to touch than wood.
The opposite is the case with wood decking. When your feet make contact with it, the heat you feel initially will feel less than that of the composite.
This means that a wood deck can actually be hotter than most composite decks as it absorbs and stores more heat inside it than composite does, raising the overall temperature of the deck.
How Hot Can Composite Decking Get?
Do Trex Decks Get Hotter Than Wood?
Composite Brand Trex claims that their decking does not typically get hotter than pressure-treated lumber. They state in their FAQ that under the sun nearly any surface will become uncomfortably hot and that lighter board colours tend to be cooler than darker composite boards. They reference studies that discovered that the colour of the decking board, no matter the material being capped wood-plastic composite or wood, is the most significant factor in the heat retention of the board. In the studies, pressure-treated lumber stained the same colour as Trex was found to be hotter than Trex when in the same conditions.
How To Keep your Deck Cool
All materials absorb the sun’s rays when exposed to direct sunlight. All decking, including wood, becomes too hot for your feet when it is exposed to the sun over a long period. Wood, when exposed to high temperatures, can actually do more than becoming so warm it’s uncomfortable to touch, it can splinter, crack or shrink as well. Composite decking on the other hand can withstand the sun without experiencing those drawbacks.
Summer isn’t that long and you want to enjoy all the sun you can. If you want to extend your time on your deck and invite company over to enjoy it too, an option to keep it cool is to create shade on your deck where you can.
Space Between your Deck Boards
One method is to plant trees near your deck to create shade spots, although this option can take some time to grow. Other options are to build a canopy over a section of your composite deck or add patio umbrellas to minimize the direct exposure you and your deck will have to the sunlight.
If walking around barefoot on your composite deck is the way you want to go you can place outdoor rugs or mats that are weather-resistant on top of your composite deck boards. These rugs can add flair and design to your deck’s aesthetic style and comfort, and they are always removable when you do not want to use them.
Having proper ventilation under your deck is a structural way to keep your composite deck cool in the summer. The shade created under the deck keeps the air under the deck cool. This can be optimized by having drain rocks along with the cool earth to absorb more death and creating a cooler space. Just having that cool air under the composite deck boards will help cool them, while the bottom of the deck draws some of the heat caused by the direct sunlight out.
Installed deck ventilation helps push cool air out from under the deck, upwards through the gaps between the deck boards. The hot air around the deck will force the cool air from under the deck up and out between the gaps, cooling the deck.
Factors to consider when choosing materials for your deck is heat retention. Composite decking boards get hotter under the sun based on the number of sun rays they absorb and not reflect. The heat that is retained by composite decking partly depends on the material it is made of and the colour it is.
As previously stated, natural wood decking pulls the heat from the sun deep into the board, making the surface seem less hot but retaining it longer, even when the sun is gone. When temperature tested, after several hours under the direct sun that averaged about 86 degrees, pine and cedar retained so much heat that the board’s temperature was between 119 and 157 degrees. Some tropical woods retained so much they were measured at 135 to 149 degrees.
Composite deck boards, more specifically the capped boards, were used in the same test and their retained heat measured them at 135 to 149 degrees. This minimal difference in heat retention between wood and composite decking shows that neither is quite hotter than the other, however, wood retains heat long after the sun is gone while composite decking cools off faster once no longer exposed to direct sunlight.
All decking material, no matter if it’s solid natural wood, lumber, IPE, PVC or composite, will retain heat when outdoors and exposed to direct sunlight making it hot to the touch. There may be some difference in retention depending on the material of decks, but it is too minimal of a difference to be of real concern. The benefits of using composite decking for your deck outweigh any concerns about heat retention.
To keep things cool, and spend the most time on your deck in the outdoors, choose light-coloured composite decking with a hollow core, as these will be the most resistant to extreme temperature and moisture while closely resembling wood when it comes to appearance and heat retention, with faster dissipation of that heat among all the other benefits composite decking has to offer.
The benefits of using composite in your outdoor living space are its low-maintenance requirements and requiring fewer costs in staining and painting among a whole number of other reasons why you should consider using composite.