I love the appearance and low maintenance of composite decking. What I don’t like is slipping. Composite decking made from plastic can be slippery, leaving very little to grip your feet.
The best decking for traction are PVC. Providing better slip-resistance than most composite and wood decking. The highest-rated being Zuri, a PVC decking with a clear acrylic coating with exceptional traction of 0.82- 0.86 when dry and 0.89 – 0.97 when wet.
These numbers are from CCMC, an independent third-party material testing organization. Ensuring that there is no bias in results. Which I will use for comparing other composite decking for traction.
“The CCMC provides code compliance assessments either as an alternative solution, which uses a proprietary CCMC-developed set of criteria to establish code compliance, or as an acceptable solution, that verifies if a product meets a code-referenced product or material standard.”
As a deck builder, I must admit that I have my favourite brands.
That is why I will rely on CCMC lab test results to counter any personal bias I have.
But of course, I will still refer to my personal experience touching, installing and walking on many different decking brands to better explain why certain composite decking provides better traction.
The more decking I install, the more I appreciate high slip-resistance boards. Over the years of building decks and reviewing composite decking, I have found some with an excellent level of traction, allowing you to enjoy your deck without worrying about falling.
Just the other day, I was replacing some old uncapped composite decking with Fiberon’s Goodlife. The difference in traction was immediately felt as I moved the boards around. Unfortunately, not in the new decking’s favour.
Before building your deck, I highly recommend you feel the boards for yourself. Fortunately, you can get samples from your local home improvement store, especially decking specialty stores. You can also have samples delivered directly to your front door from manufacturers like Fiberon, TimberTech Azek, and Deckorators. Ensuring you pick the right decking for you and your deck.
Just be careful. Beauty can distract you from traction.
But here, we will stick to traction. Get it “Stick”?
- 1 Top 3 Decking for Best Traction and Slip-Resistance.
- 2 (18) Composite & PVC Decking Traction Ratings
- 3 What Makes Decking More Slip-Resistance with Better Traction?
- 4 Decking with Excellent Slip-Resistance Not on The List
- 5 Comparing Wood Decking and Composite for Slipping
Top 3 Decking for Best Traction and Slip-Resistance.
Of all the decking I reviewed, Zuri has the best traction. With excellent slip-resistence ratings.
Two other decking with similar traction are DuxxBak and Clubhouse.
Previously, I rated Wolf Serenity and Fiberon Paramount as number 2 and 3, but after further research, I have found decking with even better traction.
Not quite as high as Zuri but still well above the 0.5 minimum residential ratings recommended by CCMC.
What many of the top rated boards have in common is PVC. For traction, being made from PCV is a real advantage. Just one more reason that PVC is better than composite.
Please don’t ask me to explain the science, I am a carpenter and deck builder, not a scientist, but PVC decking is consistently better for traction than decking includes wood fibres.
The interesting new entry is DuxxBak Rice Hull-based composite decking. Interesting in two ways.
The first is Rice Hulls. Most composite decking is a combination of plastic and wood fibres. A relatively small portion are Rice Hulls. There are advantages of Rice Husks over wood fibres, but here is the fact it’s not PVC but has incredible traction when wet.
The next one puzzles me. When dry, DuxxBak decking doesn’t score as well. Better than most wood-based composites but poorer than most PVC decking. So, what is it about DuxxBak decking that gives you more grip when you pour water on it but is less slip-resistant when dry?
If you plan to enjoy your deck more when dry, Clubhouse PVC decking is better for slip resistance. Scoring the best for dry traction of all the decking I have compared. The only reason I rated Zuri higher is its traction rating when wet.
We are more likely to slip on our deck from water spills than from everyday use. Or at least that is my experience.
Another decking with which will minimize slips is MoistureShield. Which are more traditional wood-based composite decking, or at least MoistureShield’s version which encapsulates the wood fibres to increase durability.
But for traction, Vantage is their best scoring. An uncapped composite deck board. Right below it is Vision, a capped board that does score better when dry.
MoistureShield cap is unique compared to many composite decking in that it is less “plasticky” with less of a smooth sheen or gloss, which is probably why it provides better traction than most other wood-based composites.
Deckorators’ mineral-based composite also competes with PVC decking for traction. In fact, it has better traction than Azek’s Harvest collection, with a PVC core.
Not the numbers but personal experience, I was checking out a decking display at a local home improvement store. The second I step on the Deckorators decking, I immediately felt it grab my feet. It has that much traction.
(18) Composite & PVC Decking Traction Ratings
But there are many more decking options with differences in slip resistance. Traction is one of many things to consider when selecting the best composite decking for your deck. Below is a larger chart of decking traction ratings to consider if you are leaning towards another board for other reasons but still want good traction.
|Slip Resistance (Dry)||Slip Resistance (Wet)|
|Zuri (PVC)||0.82- 0.86||0.89 – 0.97|
|DuxxBak (Rice Hull)||0.51 / 0.55||0.9|
|MoistureShield Vantage™ (Uncapped)||0.79||0.81|
|Wolf Serenity (PVC)||0.74 – 0.85||0.75 – 0.87|
|Fiberon [PARAMOUNT PVC]||0.80||0.75|
|Azek Vintage (PVC)||0.74||0.61|
|Azek Harvest (PVC)||0.28||0.59|
|Fiberon [Concordia Horizon/Symmetry]||0.40||0.31|
There are multiple reasons why one decking has better traction than another. Which I will discuss more later, embossing and finishing being the top ones.
Of course, as I already mentioned, PVC consistently scores high for traction.
Not an exhaustive list, and we should consider some other decking not rated by CCMC but by evaluating their embossing and finish will indicate if they provide good traction or not.
Before discussing individual decking, we need to address traction rating standards.
“no surface finishes met the 0.5 criterion. This criterion may not meet all occupant expectations.”
This is from Fiberon CCMC report, but almost all composite decking evaluated by CCMC has some version of it.
The expectation for flooring traction, including decking, is 0.5, which few composite decking meets. That does not mean that composite decking is unsafe. It is simply an acknowledgement that they do score low and may not be ideal in some applications.
For example, a senior’s deck where traction underfoot is critical. Where the impact of slipping is more significant, and the ability to react is less.
But for most people, a lower rating is not ideal but is not a deal-breaker.
I have built and walked on many composite decks with low traction ratings without slipping. Still, the better the traction, the better. Increased traction decreases the chance of falling on your deck. Which is always a good thing.
But without third-party testing, you still can evaluate composite decking traction level.
What Makes Decking More Slip-Resistance with Better Traction?
Despite composite and PVC decking all being primarily made of the same material, the traction varies. The most significant difference between Good and Bad traction is the cap.
Many of the good ones have deep embossing with a gripping finish.
The Bad ones are smooth with shallow embossing. Giving little to grip your feet and draw rainwater off the surface of the decking.
Deep Decking Embossing Improves Traction
This is where Trex excels and is able to create more traction than many other composite deckings.
Trex Transcend has deep wood embossing. Giving something for the sole of your foot to sink into and grab.
Even comparing between Fiberon’s Paramount and Promenade, both PVC boards. But Paramount has slightly deeper lines, increasing the grip. Giving it a slight edge over Promenade.
Simply running your hand over Paramount decking, you can feel the increased friction and grip.
This is where Azek falls short and possibly causes you to. Azek going for a different look, has a wire brush finish. Which is much smoother, gripping your feet less. Harvest has slightly deeper wood grains than Vintage. Harvest, being PVC, has a better grip when wet than most composite but is at the bottom compared with most PVC.
What I find most interesting with Azek’s Harvest is the same is true with Armadillo is the traction is significantly improved with water. Adding water doubles the decking grip.
Which is good. When it starts to rain, I run the fastest on the deck and need traction the most traction for I don’t slip off the deck running for the door.
Embossing may be added for looks, but it is phenomenal for increased traction.
A little aside, the direction of the lines impacts traction so much that they will often give two different ratings during testing. One parrel with the decking and embossing, another for against the grain.
Perpendicular, rating higher with better traction.
With Transcend, this is the difference between 0.43 with the embossing and 0.52 perpendicular.
Armadillo, with very shallow, almost non-existing embossing, the direction changes little.
Grain embossing does make a difference. The more defined, the better for traction.
Decking with Rougher Finishes Are More Slip-Resistance
Running my hand over Deckorators’ Voyage, I would say this impacts traction more than embossing. This is probably why it is rated so high compared to other composite decking. Competing with PVC decking, which consistently ranks better.
This is a hard one to explain without feeling the decking.
But I think the best analogy is carpet vs laminate. Carpet gives better traction with its thousands of fibres, increasing the friction between your foot and floor.
These fibres are smaller and barely visible with decking, but they are still gripping your foot.
So much so that despite Voyage having shallow embossing, it has good traction. The surface of the decking is not smooth.
Sandpaper versus Slip and Slide.
Which is the primary reason why Armadillo, Trex Enhance and Fiberon Symmetry score so poorly. They are just too smooth, allowing your foot to slip along the board.
Not drastic, but between Transcend and Enhance, you can feel this slight texture difference and traction. Small but making a difference.
Deep Embossing Combined with Texture is a Winning Combination for Traction
Fiberon’s Paramount is a winner for this. Paramount has both deep embossing wood grains and raised texture. Making it one of the best deckings for traction. Both wet and dry with slight variation between the two.
Ironically, Paramount is the opposite of Azek’s Harvest. Adding water reduces traction. Not significantly, but still a change. Still, it’s better than almost all other decking for traction even when wet.
Here Wolf Serenity is great for consistently. It matters little if the decking is wet or dry. The traction is practically the same.
Decking with Excellent Slip-Resistance Not on The List
The chart is handy for quick reference comparing traction, but some decking is missed. Decking that has excellent slip resistance, but I have not included on the list.
There are several reasons why.
No, available third-party testing. I have worked in construction long enough to hear many a brag that did not line up with reality. Almost all decking will claim not to be slippery, but without seeing a third-party test result, I am hesitant to include them on the list.
Another is the method of testing.
I will use Fortress Apex PVC decking as an example. Running your hand over an Apex board, you will immediately feel its grip. This is even more apparent when setting an Apex board beside a composite board. Apex will grip your foot much better.
Fortress does have third-party tests results, and they are impressive. But they are done in Australia, which has a different measuring scale. Making direct comparison inaccurate.
Similar to metric and imperial. Not saying one is better than the other, but you can’t interchange feet and metres without creating serious issues.
The same with Fortress Bamboo PVC decking. It is worth considering for slip resistance, but I could not include it because of testing methods.
Comparing Wood Decking and Composite for Slipping
No decking review for traction would be complete without mentioning wood decking, which is still the lion’s share of decking, from Pressure Treated to Ipe and everything in between. Wood, similar to composite decking varies in traction.
To start, most wood decking scores better than composite for traction. On the other hand, PVC decking rated the best in our comparison of synthetic decking and also ranked better than most wood decking.
The challenge with wood decking is not only that different woods have different textures and traction, but to be maintained should be stained and sealed.
Sealing woods helps to preserve the wood but can also reduce traction. The glossier the finish, the slippery the decking is.
Sealing the decking minimizes water absorption, which is good to preserve the decking. But absorbed water raises the wood fibres increasing friction. Similar to what texture does for composite decking. So, the better protected the wood is, the lower the traction it will have.
More importantly, it is not the wood decking itself but what is on it.
Mould and mildew on the decking surface are the single largest cause of slips on decking.
A safe wood deck with maximum traction is a clean deck. Making regular maintenance and cleaning all that more important with a wood deck. It will be slippery if you let mildew or mould grow on the decking.
Like a banana peel under your foot is mildew on the decking.