Composite and Synthetic Decking: What’s the difference?

If you’re considering getting a low-maintenance custom deck built, you may have come across composite and synthetic decking in your research. Most people understand the differences between composite decking, and wood decking, but you may have also stumbled across another type of product that’s often lumped in with the composite products; synthetic (or PVC) decking.

So what’s the difference between composite and synthetic decking? They’re both plastic aren’t they? Well, yes and no.  While both are plastic products that are low-maintenance, there are some differences.


Composite decking is a blend of wood and plastic, hence the reason why it’s called “composite.”  Some brands use other materials other than wood, but in most cases, wood is used, and it’s always a mixture of multiple materials in the board.

For this reason, Composite Deck boards are more dense, so they’re heavier making them a little bit harder to work with.  Most composites on the market tend to have a more plastic-like aesthetic to them and some can be prone to scratching, but at the end of the day, they will give the low-maintenance finish you’re looking for.

Synthetic (or PVC)

Synthetic Decking (or PVC Decking) has no organic material in it at all.  The boards are 100% plastic, specifically Polyvinyl Chloride as opposed to composites, which use a High Density Polyethylene plastic.

PVC products will give you better traction whether wet or dry, but can be more susceptible to denting if you were to drop anything heavy on your deck.  PVC Products such as TimberTech Azek have a lifetime structural warranty because there’s nothing organic to break down over time in them.


Both types of products are low-maintenance.  They just require a little bit of cleaning (sweeping, scrubbing, etc.).  In both cases, you’ll get similar warranties, but generally the PVCs will give you a lifetime warranty due to being made with no organic materials.  You’re going to find that composites have a lower price point than the PVCs, but both are great products.  Some Composite brands we use when we build our custom decks are TimberTech, MoistureSheild and Trex, and as for PVCs, we highly recommend TimberTech’s Azek product line.

If you have any questions about Composite and Synthetic decking,  or if you’re considering building a deck with these materials, feel free to contact us at (512) 522-DECK (3325) and request a consultation, or request a consultation by filling out our contact form.


Caleb Wheeler

Austin Custom Deck Builder - Centex Decks

Owner and Master-carpenter Caleb Wheeler grew up on a large ranch, building barns, mending fences, and tending to the building needs of the family herd. He apprenticed a Master-carpenter from England, and worked with many other mentors to learn the art of fine craftsmanship in furniture building and now takes that knowledge and approach to crafting his company, his team, his custom decks, and outdoor living projects for his customers.

As a creative small-business entrepreneur with a passion for what he does, Caleb has built Centex Decks LLC into a company that delivers a beautiful product with the project management skills of a builder and with the fine detail and craftsmanship of a furniture maker.

“When you're a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you're not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You'll know it's there, so you're going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back, because, details matter.” — Steve Jobs

Every custom deck design + build project comes with our expert artisan craftsmanship.

We specialize in projects that are highly complex and need the expertise, planning, and execution from a company with 19+ years of residential and commercial construction management background. Let us be your custom deck builder.

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    Centex Decks

    • It’s simple;
      experience + design + craftsmanship.

      With 19+ years under our belt, we are able to design + build to the highest of standards in the decking industry. We only use hand selected materials to make your outdoor living dream become a reality.

    • The details matter.

      In a true craftsman’s nature, we design all our decks and outdoor living projects with the details in mind. We care about what the finished product is being built on as much as the finishing details. 

    • Designed + built to last

      Due to our experience in the highly-detailed and regulated commercial building world, we over-engineer residential decks for load safety and longevity.

    • Last but not least; our craftsman.

      If you value craftsmanship then you’ve come to the right place. Our team of craftsman are just that, craftsman. We take pride in the product we are creating and it shows in the final product.