Types of Composites

There are generally two types of composite decking. These are typically known as “composite” and “capped composite/capstock“. The word “composite” tends to be used interchangeably by many people, but there are some major differences between them.

Traditional Composite


Traditional composite decking is 100% made up of wood fibers and recycled plastic through the entire board. The decking comes in different colours thanks to the different dyes used in the plastic, but you are still able to see flecks of wood fiber scattered throughout. The benefits of traditional composite are primarily price (as it is the cheapest of the options) and the fact that the colour is consistent throughout the board so cut ends or routed edges look just as good as the face of the boards. It also tends to be less slippery when wet, and a little cooler to the touch on a sunny day than it’s capped counterpart.

Unfortunately, traditional composite also has some drawbacks. Most notably durability, staining, and fading. Traditional composites scratch far easier than capped composites, and be careful of grease stains from your BBQ as those are likely there to stay if you happen to slop on your new deck. The sun also has harsh effects on composite decking, and while fade resistance has improved vastly from earlier generations, traditional composites still typically fade in colour more than capped alternatives.

Capped Composites


To remedy some of these common composite issues, manufactures developed “capped composites.” The core of these products are exactly the same as the traditional composite: wood fibers and plastic. But that is also then encapsulated in a PVC wear layer around most or all of the board. This PVC layer GREATLY improves the durability, stain resistance, and fade resistance. It is must more difficult to scratch, far more resistance to spills and stains (if cleaned up in a reasonable time) and while some fading is inevitable, it is minimal and unnoticeable for the most part. Capped composites also come in a wider variety of colours and patterns, and can reach a much more realistic look of the wood that most people are looking for.

However, that comes at a cost. Literally. Capped composites are are generally 2-3 times more expensive than traditional composites and due to the PVC wear layer, cut ends are best hidden as routing is not an attractive option. They also tend to be quite slippery when wet, and darker colours get quite warm under the sun. But as far as aesthetic goes, they are far superior in every way to traditional composites.