Q: Do composite decks get hot?
A: I have had a composite deck for approximately a decade and walked on numerous others with bare feet in the summer. I can confirm that composite decks do get hot.
I live in the Midwest where temperatures are typically in the 70s and 80s during the summer. Even here, a few hours of direct sun beating down on the deck surface will cause it to heat up to the point of being unpleasant to walk on without shoes.
Trex, one of the elite manufacturers of composite decking, confirms that composite decking is not immune from getting hot. However, they also state that their decking commonly does not get hotter than pressure-treated wood. Read on for more on composite deck vs. wood in regard to heat.
How Hot Do Composite Decks Get?
Jim Finlay, owner of Archadeck, tested 63 samples from 6 manufacturers of synthetic decking to test how hot they would get. He also tested several types of wood decking, concrete, brick, and asphalt. The test was completed near Boston in the summer with the temperatures in the 80s.
He found that the direct sun can increase the deck temperature 34° to 76°F from the outdoor air temperature. Additionally, when comparing lighter and dark decking of the same series, the lighter colors averaged 13°F cooler than the darker colors. On an 80°F day in August, the test found dark colored synthetic decking reached over 130°F on average. Some decking made it over 150°F. Now that is hot!
One final note on Finlay’s testing, generally all the wood, brick, pavers, and concrete tested were cooler than the composite decking. We recommended reading his full study here for specific details, including data on specific composite decking brands.
Cooling a Composite Decking
Here are a few tips to cool your composite deck:
- Lighter Color – As indicated above, color is a huge factor in determining how hot a composite deck will get. If you do not have a composite deck yet, but plan on installing one, you should consider opting for a lighter color. This is especially true if your future deck is located in an area with a lot of direct sun.
- Tree Shade – Strategically planting a tree or two near a deck can provide cooling shade. This, of course, is not an immediate solution but it could pay dividends if you plan to stay in one house for many years.
- Deck Shading – Cantilever umbrellas, pavilions, canopies, and awnings are just some of the ways to block out the sun on a deck. You might not be able to cover the whole deck with shade using some of these options, but it is certaining reasonable to shade key walking areas.
- Sandals – I’m a big barefoot guy in the summer but my composite deck gets too hot sometimes not to wear shoes or sandals on it. Keep a pair of sandals near the patio door and there will be no issues with a surprise roasting of the bottom of your feet.
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