When having a new deck installed outside your home, you can choose between plastic, composite, or timber for the slats and other pieces. Each of these has their advantages and disadvantages, so note a few pros and cons of these materials so you can find the right decking material for your property.
The obvious advantage of plastic is that it won't rot, warp, or chip. Plastic also doesn't need refinishing, and may come clean with a simple power wash. However, plastic often holds heat and can be very uncomfortable underfoot during hot summer months, and especially if your deck will be under direct sunlight for many hours throughout the day. Plastic may also have an artificial look and feel that detracts from your enjoyment of the space.
A composite material combines plastic and sawdust, mixed together with an adhesive. This can be a good choice if you're very eco-conscious, as composites will usually include a high percentage of recycled materials. The material is also very durable and not likely to fade or chip over time.
However, while the wood mixture will help keep composite decking cooler than solid plastic, it will still get very warm in summertime. It can also have something of an artificial look and feel to it that you may not enjoy. Note, too, that both composite and plastic decking typically cannot be recoloured in any way, so you cannot update the look if you should repaint your home's exterior or buy new outdoor furniture.
Timber decking will have the most natural look, and its overall grain and depth of colour usually can't be duplicated with plastics and composites, so for the most eye-catching deck, invest in real timber. Timber will also stay cool under hot summer sun, so it's the best choice for decks without an awning or shade, and for any area with bright summer sunlight. Timber decking can also be painted or stained, so you can change the look of the deck over the years.
Consider, too, the features of your home, both indoors and out, and note if timber may be a more complementary choice. Real timber may be a better match to interior timber floors or to other natural features and accessories outside the home, such as stone pavers a stone fireplace. Real timber might also blend more easily with a wood gazebo or wood furniture, whereas plastic or a composite material might stand out and clash with these other features.