Does composite decking get too hot?
We often get asked what is the coolest decking in our low-maintenance options. With the rise in popularity of composite and capped composite decking which offer a low-maintenance lifestyle, this is something to consider when making your product selections. This will be more of a factor for people with pool decks or where people are more likely to be barefoot, like more of a beach setting, or a dock.
Barefoot friendly decking options?
If you are used to a standard pressure-treated lumber deck that you might have been on before, most of the low-maintenance products will be hotter than pressure-treated lumber decking. The flip side is that you will not have any splinters to worry about, but you will definitely see a temperature increase. That feels good on a 65-degree day, but on a 90-degree day with a deck in full sun, you will want to wear flip flops. If you do step out barefoot in those conditions, you will know immediately. It’s definitely not pleasant to bare feet.
Colors do play the obvious role in this; the darker will be slightly hotter and lighter colors will be slightly cooler, but the difference will not be noticeable on bare feet. In other words, if you have a lighter colored main deck and a darker border and you step from deck to border you will not be able to feel a temperature difference. Technically speaking though, the products would show a difference if measured with a thermometer.
Heat retention in capped composite decking
Capped composites or composites will be the hottest since they have the most mass. The lighter the board (in weight), the less heat retention it will have. Cellular PVC boards will not retain quite as much heat, but are still hotter to the touch than wood decks.
The coolest decking would be a hollow profile where there is not a lot of material to heat up. For example, aluminum decking stays pretty cool. Aluminum decking would be a good choice if temperature is your number one concern. The drawbacks to aluminum decking are: looks like metal, feels and sounds like tin, does not do a good job of imitating a traditional deck board and feel. I also wonder about lighting strikes with aluminum-type of decking.
Having considered all of these factors, most people use their decks at the end of the day. On a 90-degree day you are probably inside in the A/C. No matter what kind of decking you have on a 90-degree day, you are hot and it really doesn’t matter if the decking is a few degrees cooler. In our Northeast Ohio climate, we don’t have too many of those 90-degree days, and at dinner time it generally is starting to cool off.
All things considered, the benefits that low-maintenance decking provides, far outweigh the heat retention that it has. For more information of the different decking products see: