Marine construction has a large emphasis on long-lasting use. Customer satisfaction and long-term performance are closely intertwined, and contractors and builders often have the task of choosing the ideal decking material that looks the best and lasts the longest. Three decking materials usually compete in those two categories: composite wood, PVC plastic and polypropylene decking options.
Let’s delve into the ins and outs of these materials and discuss their unique properties, maintenance requirements and lifetime performance. By effectively communicating the advantages of each material to customers, contractors can confidently recommend the best decking solution for each job, and ensure that the deck delivers performance and charm for the long run.
Composite Marine Decks
Composite wood is among the most common materials used for marine decking in the industry today. Composite decking is a durable and low-maintenance decking material made from a blend of wood fibers or sawdust and recycled plastic materials. It offers excellent moisture resistance, making it well-suited for marine environments exposed to constant moisture, saltwater and humidity.
Unlike traditional wood decking, composite decking does not rot, warp, fade or attract insects. It is available in a wide range of colors, textures and finishes, allowing contractors to cater to diverse design preferences.
While composite decking generally comes with a higher upfront cost compared to wood decking, contractors should emphasize its long-term cost savings through reduced maintenance and increased longevity. However, customers should be aware that composite decking is not ideal for bare feet — shoes are needed when walking on composite decks because they can retain heat and become exceptionally hot during peak sunshine hours.
Unlike traditional wood decking that can be repaired or refinished, composite decking is not as easily repairable. In the event of significant damage, such as deep scratches or chips, the affected boards may need to be replaced entirely, which can be more challenging and costly.
For clients looking for something similar to the classic wood look, composite decking is their best bet for a deck that will have an old-fashioned feel while lasting longer than one or two years against the elements.
PVC Marine Decking
PVC decking is a type of decking material made from synthetic plastic polymers. One key advantage of PVC decking is its exceptional resistance to moisture, making it highly suitable for marine environments where decks are exposed to constant water and humidity. It does not rot, warp or splinter like traditional wood decking. Contractors should also be aware that PVC decking offers excellent durability as well as resistance to fading, staining and scratching. Its low-maintenance nature is another significant benefit, as it does not require staining, sealing or painting.
However, PVC decking can be relatively stiff compared to other materials, which may limit its flexibility in certain applications. In situations where the deck needs to accommodate unusual shapes or contours, PVC may require additional planning and customization to ensure proper installation.
While PVC decking is available in a range of colors and textures, its aesthetic appeal may not match that of natural wood or other composite materials. Some clients may prefer the authentic look and feel of wood, which PVC decking may not fully replicate. Contractors should advise their clients that, like composite decking, PVC plastic decking can become very hot under direct sunlight, so utilizing lighter colors or implementing shading measures can help address this issue.
Additionally, contractors should inform their clients about the importance of proper installation techniques specific to PVC decking, such as using recommended fasteners and ensuring proper structural support. If the dock is expected to bear heavy loads, PVC might not be quite up for the job. However, if the dock is meant to service sportsmen and weekend yachting parties, PVC will be fine.
Polypropylene decking is a type of decking material made from a thermoplastic polymer known for its durability, strength and resistance to moisture. It offers excellent performance in marine environments where decks are regularly exposed to water, salt and humidity. Polypropylene decking is highly resistant to rot, decay and insect damage, making it an ideal choice for marine construction. Certain makers of polypropylene decking, such as Titan Deck, even produce deck boards that simply screw into an existing boat dock frame.
Polypropylene is also known for its low maintenance requirements, as it does not require staining, sealing or painting. Polypropylene decking typically has a lighter weight compared to other materials, which can make installation easier and more efficient for contractors. Additionally, polypropylene decking is often designed with textured surfaces to provide enhanced slip resistance, promoting safety on the deck.
However, contractors should note that polypropylene decking may have limited color options compared to other materials. The cost of polypropylene decking can vary depending on the brand, quality and specific features of the product. In some cases, it may be more expensive than traditional wood decking options but can be comparable to or slightly more affordable than other composite decking materials.
Offering The Right Decking Material For Your Clients
If there were ever a one-size-fits-all decking material, it would be polypropylene decking. Whether it’s for a backyard boat dock or a commercial marine wharf, polypropylene decking is the most cost-efficient decking material for the long run. Polypropylene deck designs are sleek and modern and virtually guaranteed to stand up against the harshest seaside elements for decades.
Engineered with installation in mind, Titan Deck marine decking features interlocking systems or recessed fastening systems that facilitate a straightforward and efficient installation process. These innovative systems ensure that the decking boards fit seamlessly together, creating a clean and uniform surface that’s barefoot-friendly. The precise sizing and consistent shape of our polypropylene decking boards further enhance the ease of installation, eliminating the need for extensive cutting or modification on-site.
Not only is polypropylene decking easy to install, but it’s also easy to move when the time comes for maintenance. What this all adds up to is a cost-efficient installation and a long lifetime, making polypropylene decking the best option for a marine deck. For more information on various polypropylene plastic marine decking solutions, check out Titan Deck’s offer and contact a Titan Deck Expert for more information.