If you’re shopping for decking options, one of your biggest concerns will probably be comfort. That means you’ll likely be asking the question, “Does composite decking get hot in the sun?”
The short answer is yes — like everything exposed to sunlight, it can get hot. However, you shouldn’t let that dissuade you from choosing composite boards. We’ll explain why below, plus tips and tricks to help you keep your deck cooler.
How Hot Does Composite Decking Get?
In warm, sunny climates, composite decking can be 35 to 76 degrees hotter than the outdoor air temperature — which can be quite hot if it’s a 90-degree day outside.
Is that hotter than wood decking? Actually, no.
While some have listed heat as a disadvantage to composite decking, that was truer of older composite materials. Today, thanks to innovations from various manufacturers, modern composite decking doesn’t get any hotter than wood. In fact, where modern composites are concerned, material isn’t the biggest factor in temperature — color is.
In extreme heat, you’ll likely be better off with composite decking because most modern composites are more resistant to heat overall than their wood counterparts. Wood expands as temperatures change, and that can lead to cracking and splintering. Composite decking doesn’t suffer from this issue, which helps it last longer and stay more durable, even through temperature extremes.
How Does Color Increase Heat?
You’ve probably heard the advice that you should wear light colored clothing on hot, sunny days — and there’s a good reason. Darker colors absorb and retain more heat than lighter colors, which reflect light and heat.
The same is true for decking. Whether wood or composite, darker decking will get hotter in the summer sun than decking in lighter shades. This is compounded by the fact that decks are large, flat surfaces typically placed in full sun rather than shady spots. That exposure means they’ll naturally get hotter than the yard surrounding the deck.
How to Keep Your Deck Cooler
There are some things to keep in mind to help keep your deck cooler.
First is color, as mentioned. Go with lighter shades as opposed to darker ones to reflect heat rather than absorb it. Keep in mind that you probably won’t want to go too light — something like a bright white deck might give you a cooler surface temperature, but it can also become incredibly bright and glaring on sunny days. Consider grays, soft tans or light wood tones to get the best balance between heat absorption and light reflectivity.
You should also choose materials based on their ability to absorb or repel water. Softwoods, for instance, can absorb a lot of water when it’s humid or rainy. Once the sun comes out, that moisture-laden wood can get much hotter than a dry material. Composites can help you keep cooler simply because they don’t hold as much water as lumber.
Another way to keep a deck cooler is to make sure it has proper ventilation. Ventilating a deck is as simple as keeping it off the ground so that air can circulate beneath it. Taller decks will be naturally ventilated. However, for decks that are within a foot or two of the ground, you’ll need to make sure that they’re not hemmed in by borders, shrubs, skirting, or other obstructions that would prevent air from flowing underneath.
Last, you can also consider shading the deck. Many homeowners avoid placing permanent shade structures or trees near the deck because sunshine can help dry the surface after it rains. A dry deck can help prevent mold, mildew and moss buildup. However, you can always install a roll-out awning or large umbrella to keep portions of the deck shady and cool when it gets too hot.
Stay Cool and Enjoy Your Deck!
So, does composite decking get hot? It does, but the bottom line is that all surfaces will get hot when the sun is shining. Composite decking can help you stay cooler since it offers greater moisture resistance and a wider range of light, neutral shades.
Check out our selection of residential decking products to find a great color that will match your home — and help your deck shed heat in the summer. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us for additional information.