Video /
Oct 31, 2019

Which Decking Material is the Best?

Custom builder Matt Risinger tested various decking products to see which one stands up to the rigors of everyday use. The results may surprise you.

“We’re going to put four common deck boards thrugh a series of tests to see how they’re really going to perform in your backyards,” the builder says.

The tests include cedar, ipe, Timbertech composite, and Azek cellular PVC.


on the build show today it looks like
we're doing an infomercial that actually
we're gonna be doing some real-world
deck testing I've got four common deck
boards here and we're gonna put them
through a series of tests the things
that happen on your deck on an everyday
basis things like spills and scratches
and stains today's video is sponsored by
our forensic Azek let's get going
on the build show today real-world deck
testing we're gonna put these four
common deck boards through a series of
tests and see how they're really going
to perform in your backyard so let me
show you the four that we're working
with number one we're gonna be using
cedar now cedar is a softwood used all
over the country beautiful wood it
Gray's out really nicely but in this
case we wanted to give it a little bit
of resistance when we got into the stain
testing portion so we put one coat of
sickens on that next
IPE I've used a lot of IPE over the
years if you're not familiar with that
it is a tropical hardwood extremely
dense very very resistant to decay and
rot and we put one coat of oil on this
as well in IPE oil next we're going to
be using timber tech this is a composite
wood and if you're not familiar with
this it's a mix of both wood and plastic
HDPE specifically and there's a lot of
recycled content in this but this is
what's considered a capped composite
meaning there's a virgin polyethylene
cap all the way around that timber Tech
which is going to give it some
additional resistance in these tests and
then the last board here is a zyk now
ASIC is a cellular PVC product the first
thing we're going to do here is stain
test so let's get going on that okay the
first test stains let's see what some
common foods that you're gonna be eating
on your backyard deck are gonna due to
these four common deck boards so first
we're gonna start with these guys right
here catch-up and mustard you know
you're using these at every party in the
back of your deck invariably somebody's
gonna spill these so first we hit
mustard and we gave a nice puddle on
each one of these boards next we moved
on to catch-up and same thing we know we
left a nice little puddle there okay
next up I didn't spare any expenses I
didn't bring the box wines from home I
stopped and got the good wine from the
store to splash on these deck boards now
a splash of wine on a deck my
expectation is we're gonna see some
differences between these so we splashed
a little bit on each one of these and by
the way I brought in a fourth piece or
pardon me a fifth piece as well I
brought a control sample of some
unfinished cedar I just flipped over
this side that had the sickens on it and
on the backside I hit the red wine and
then last is gonna be the burger and I
think this is the one that I've seen on
in law's deck the most when it comes to
stayin äj--
so we took some some regular old
hamburgers from the local shop flip the
patty side down and pop out in each one
of these including the unfinished cedar
now here's the way I did though I didn't
want to just wipe these up immediately I
didn't forget was necessarily a fair
test so I moved on to the scratch test
and then we're gonna come back and wipe
these off later so next let's talk about
scratching so scratching this can happen
certainly under construction but I think
also moving deck furniture around is a
typical place where you might find a
scratch let's see what a screw does for
these now I lined up all four boards
together so that I could try to give a
consistent pressure with my thumb and
made a series of four or five scratches
across here no shock that the cedar gave
the most deep and impressionable scratch
the really the most noticeable soft wood
pretty normal that you're gonna see it
scratch pretty easily
IPE you know super dense super hardwood
you were able to get a small scratch on
there but really not much at all and
then the timber tech in the Azek I'll be
honest they surprised me a little bit
they were much harder and much more
dense than I expected them to be now
we've made a scratch across the grain on
the timber Tech in the Azek and they
scratched about the same as what I
maybe slightly more than the IPE but way
way less than the cedar now here's an
interesting tip for you though the ASIC
rep was here earlier today and showed me
that you can actually fix a scratch on
the Azek and I didn't know this because
it's got some memory to it if you apply
heat to a scratch depending on the size
of scratch of course if it's a more
minor scratch you can actually get rid
of it and so I did some testing on that
I was shocked to find out you actually
could we took a heat gun and we heat it
up we actually let it preheat for about
two minutes on the very highest setting
and the exact people tell me it needs to
get to like 850 degrees but here's the
key you got to move that heat quickly
and you want to keep it about two inches
from the deck board don't stay there in
fact I practiced on a scrap board first
and I was able to burn through it by
accident so I knew that I needed to keep
my wand moving that tip of that heat gun
but check this out I mean you move that
you can across that scratch I was
impressed you could really make it just
about disappear not perfect but sure is
gonna diminish the look of that scratch
without a zach and a heat gun again
practice on a scratch on a spare board
don't don't go right to your deck or
you've got a scratch and do it right in
the middle your deck because you can
damage that with too much heat okay now
about an hour later we came back to that
stain test and I think this is a much
more real world if everything's left on
that deck for an hour that's gonna give
it time for to soak in and cause that
damage and first let's start with the
cedar I took the burghers away first and
then I started wiping from there and
right away you could tell obviously on
the unfinished cedar we got we got a
problem I mean that that red wine
absolutely stained and I think that's
gonna be really hard to get out the
burger left a nice grease mark in there
as well interestingly enough though the
sickens finish on the cedar boy it
protected it really well the only thing
that got past it was the red wine and
you can see we've got a bit of a red
wine mark here not terrible but if that
if that red wine was let's say left out
overnight rather than just for an hour I
think it'd be even much more pronounced
now the IPE seemed to soak in but after
I wiped it down with soap and water it
wasn't as bad the red wine I think would
absolutely soaked in given more time and
interesting enough you can see just a
little bit of that ketchup and mustard
on there timber tech I'll tell you this
was impressive after I wiped it down
with a paper towel and then used a
little bit of dish soap water on there I
don't see a thing on that that looks
money absolutely brand-new even after an
hour of soaking in and the A's X
similarly everything did really well
cleaning off that Azek
however one little Achilles here that I
found is that that yellow mustard you
can still see a haze from that kind of a
yellowish haze even after wiping it off
my assumption is that there is vinegar
in here which somehow is making some
reaction with that PVC if given enough
time interesting I didn't see that on
the timber tech but I did see that in
the ASAC I don't know maybe I had a
flawed test but but I did find that the
mustard left a little bit of a problem
everything else no problem
all okay let's move on to the bug spray
and the sunscreen test now this one I've
had personal experience with as well
when I'm out at the lake with the kids
I've seen the kids spray their feet down
and after they leave with the sunscreen
you can absolutely see the two foot
marks on the deck where their feet were
in the bug spray or the sunscreen has
marred it so we went a little extreme on
this test now we did this test for
several days in a row where we
absolutely glazed the boards we shall
act him with both of these we did it on
Thursday we left him in the Sun all day
we did it on Friday we left him the Sun
all day on Saturday again and in the Sun
all day and then today first thing we
did we put another coat on all these
boards now we use the B in the S and
tape so we can kind of see what they
look like later that stands for a bug or
sunscreen also kind of nice that it
stands for build show as well so then
once we glazed them for that fourth time
what I did was I pulled the tape on
these and again we let him sit out in
the Sun for a couple more hours after I
did that this morning we pulled the tape
and man that was slightly disgusting I
got to say that sunscreen left a giant
film on those boards so I'm interested
to see after they got clean what they
look like and then the bug spray pretty
disgusting as well I was a giant mess on
these boards after several days of that
now what I did first was I scrubbed him
down you know I used just some regular
old dawn kitchen soap a couple of drops
in a little bucket of water and then I
washed each one of them down and you
could see as I wash them down for
instance the sunscreen on the cedar
which had that PPG sickens finish kind
of gummed up and you could tell it was
coming off on there now on the other
hand the sunscreen on the IPE oil didn't
come off very well in fact you can see
perfectly that s on there and it's kind
of a nasty I don't know what exactly
happened I assume that there's some kind
of reaction with the sunscreen in the
IPE oil I really could not get that off
easily I think you'd have to powerwash
this to actually get that off the timber
tech cleaned off relatively easily on
the sunscreen and the bug spray although
if you look at the sunscreen on this
timber tech board you can see that it's
mess with the sheen of
little bit I don't know if that's
because I wasn't able to fully get that
sunscreen off or if it actually did
something to the finish in the board not
totally certain there now the ASIC had a
slightly surprising result and I'm not
sure if it has anything to do with my
tape but you can see the outline here of
my be in my s where I tape those over
and again there's a little bit of a
sheen difference where the sunscreen was
the bug spray seemed to leave an outline
of that be on there I think the big
takeaway on this is look if you've got
sunscreen or bug spray there in a metal
can for a reason they're chemicals and
they're gonna mess with your deck about
the only one of these that that took a
licking and kept on ticking was the
cedar with that PPG sickens I thought
that one did really really well but the
other three here we definitely have some
some things going on that are not good
now the guys at ASIC tell me that
they're decking has this alloy armor
technology that's gonna make the surface
of this much more resistant to the bug
spray and the sunscreen damage then even
the product a couple years ago this is
fairly new technology in the product
today they didn't used to have but I
think the takeaway on this test is look
be really careful you shouldn't be using
those products on your deck they can
cause damage so you should spray those
down on the grass and then come on the
deck later okay so what are the
takeaways after a days with the testing
and all these boards you know I've put a
lot of wood decks down over the years
and I love the look and feel of real
wood but it does have its downsides and
we got to see some of that today however
I think one of the big takeaways frankly
is that ASIC and timber tech they've
come a long ways
considering the composites I was putting
down 10 years ago that I have kind of
the most direct and personal experience
with this capped composite with timber
tech did really well on the tests and
the cellular PVC with Azek very
impressive product I had no idea that it
was this impervious to so many things I
think we've got some really good choices
out there if you're planning a deck
project hopefully you learn something
that will apply to your specific project
and you can choose a good deck no matter
what deck you choose I want to recommend
my friends at timber town that's whose
warehouse we're in today and they're the
dealer locally for all these products I
also want to thank a sec for being man
enough to sponsor the video
and also show the downsides of their
products as well not just a hundred
percent positive on those so big thanks
to those guys as well link in the
description below for both of those
companies I talked about if you're not
already a subscriber I'd love to have
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we'll see you next time on the build