Mixed Materials: How Composite Decking Works

What are composite decks? What are they made of? How do they compare to wooden decks?

These are questions everyone asks when making plans for their very first deck. Lucky for them, we have all the answers right here.

The following article gives a brief but comprehensive overview of all you need to know about composite decking. To learn if composite decking is the best option for you, read on.

What Are Composite Decks Made Of?

Composite decks are made primarily of wood particles and plastic. Because of this, it’s common for composite decks to be made from mostly recycled material.

You can check with the specific decking company you’re considering to find out for sure. But composite decking is usually your most environmentally friendly option.

Pigment is also added for color. The mixture is generally made to mimic the appearance and texture of wood.

How Are Composite Decks Made?

The ingredients are mixed together while the plastic is molten. Then the mixture is shaped to look like wooden planks in one of two ways, extrusion or compression molding.

Extrusion uses a specially shaped hole called a “die,” to shape the material. When the mixture is pushed through the die it produces plank-shaped pieces. The pieces retain this shape as they are cooled and hardened.

Compression molding is where the molten mixture is poured and pressed into a plank-shaped mold. Then, they too are cooled and hardened.

Some companies add a few extra steps of their own to give additional benefits to the final product. For example, some add extra ingredients or multiple layers of materials to reinforce the strength of the boards.

Some companies add an extra layer of protection on the outside, like a shell or seal. This protective layer may reduce the likelihood of accidental staining or color-fading due to UV exposure.

How is Composite Decking Better Than Other Decking Materials?

Here are the main benefits composite decks have over other types of decking.


First, as we’ve mentioned, they’re usually the most eco-friendly option. And that’s not only due to using recycled materials. Composite decks are also green to produce.

One study found that the process used to make Trex composite decks emits 36% less greenhouse gas than producing pressure-treated lumber. Overall, producing Trex decks instead of lumber resulted in 93% less ecological toxicity.

Minimal Maintenance

Composite decking means no sanding, no staining, and no sealing, ever. Just wash it once and a while with soap and water.


Composite doesn’t splinter or split. It doesn’t get infested with termites or rot. It can believably last you up to 50 years.

It Looks Exactly How You Want

The whole point of composite decking has always been to be a strong, affordable alternative to wood that looks just as nice. Over several years, it’s grown to form its own identity rather than being a mere comparison to wood.

Due to the way it’s made, composite decking is available in just about any color and texture a customer could ask for. For those who want the natural look of wood, there is composite decking textured and colored to match stained lumber. Those who want the look of painted wood can get any color they want.

Others can get composite decking that doesn’t resemble wood at all.

Thinking about Getting a Composite Deck?

Bottom line: composite decks are about the easiest and most versatile decking option available. But they certainly aren’t your only option.

To help you decide, take a look at our composite deck galleries, and our other deck galleries to compare.