Decks are great for enjoying the outdoors, but snow will be a factor if you live in Canada or northern part of the United States. Every year brings winter and with winter snow. So, whatever deck you build must work well with snow, in particular composite decking.
The best composite decking for snow must be durable to allowing shovelling off snow with a high traction level to minimize slips while walking on the deck after a snowfall.
These two things in particular need attention when selecting composite decking for colder climates. Unless you are going to lock the door and not use your deck after summer, decking suited for snow is a must during winter.
These two decking characteristics are the most important in a colder climates, traction and durability. Enough traction that you can use your deck all year round, even when it snows. Damage-free after shovelling and other winter maintenance for you are free to clear your deck after snow and enjoy it on warm winter days out on your deck.
Before going over all the reasons why the two best composite decking boards for snow are
- Vintage Collection® PVC decking from TimberTech
- Terrain Collection™ a more budget-friendly option from TimberTech
There are many other quality composite decking boards available. Ones that will perform well on your deck, even with snow. But let me explain my thought process and why I choose these two composite decking collections for winter decks and snow.
Composite Decking With Traction Under Snow
Another word for traction is friction. The greater the level of friction between your boots and the decking, the less you will slip in the snow. As your boots will grip the decking, preventing you from falling.
What Increases Grip on Composite Decking?
There are two ways to increase grip on decking, texture and material finish. This is one of the wonders of polymer caps. Most current composite decking has a strong polymer cap that allows for a nicer looking decking finish and increases the texture of the decking.
Many higher-end decking boards have an embossed “wood grain finish” on the boards, which has a dual benefit. Primarily it makes composite decking look a lot less plastically, which was an earlier complaint about composite decking. Mimicking the look of hardwoods, which we have a strange attraction to.
But concerning composite decking and snow, this wood texture also provides much-needed grip. The small grooves in the boards catching your boots as you wall on the decking. The more texture, the more grip.
Making finding good decking for snow reasonably easy. When you are in the store, run your hands over the decking samples. If it’s smooth and your hand glides over the boards, move on. That decking will not provide good grip under snow. If you can feel small grooves and the decking is “rough,” not like tree bark but still with texture, it will provide good grip in winter.
|Slip Resistance (Wet)|
|Fiberon Paramount PVC||0.82|
Most of these ratings are from CCMC elevation reports. In the hope of providing an unbiased reference to evaluate composite decking.
“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.”
Unfortunately, lines like Fiberon Paramount do not have a CCMC evaluation. Also, some manufacturer’s lines are grouped together in the reports.
Kind of like comparing Wendy’s entire burger selection with McDonald’s. Not allowing for the fact that some individual decking boards will perform better than others. The group pulls them down. Especially true for composite decking brands with “budget” decking. These lines are designed for price and sometimes pull the entire brand down with their lower performance.
Trex is an excellent example of this. Trex Transcend is five times more scratch resistance than Enhance, but they are reported together. This is entirely unfair to Transcend, a good deck board for snow, with its deep wood-grain pattern. Transcend has texture providing grip in snow.
This can be said for most composite decking brands. Don’t let one board colour the entire lot. Look for individual composite decking boards with good texture. Then you will have grip under your feet in the snow.
But for texture and greater embossing of wood grains will often be found in the higher-end boards. Look more at the PVC products like Azek or Paramount, as the Chart shows. The PVC decking lines include more texture than many of the more budget-conscious composite decking. It’s not really the board core that matters, but the more expensive lines spend more on better caps. Making the deck boards better for snow.
Composite Decking and Snow Load
A common question about composite decking and snow. Is snow load. Can the composite decking support the additional weight of snow in winter?
First, any decking approved for use in Canada or the United States is rated to support a minimum of 40lbs (18kg) per square foot. That means that all composite decking can support a minimum of 3′ (0.9m) of snow. So, unless you’re in some kind of snow belt and cannot shovel off your deck between snowstorms. All composite decking is fine. It is strong enough to support the load of the snow.
TimberTech Terrain line is one of the stiffer composite deckings on the market, but most testing for composite decking is focused on the effect of heat. As synthetic decking both composite and PVC, the more considerable concern is summer heat and flex with the plastic element soften and sags when heated. With little concern about strength in winter as the boards naturally increase in rigidity with the cold.
PVC based decking like Azek or Paramount are the most flexible decking material. But this should not be misunderstood as decking failure but rather flex. That the decking will sag more between joists than another decking, like composite or wood decking. This is more obvious in the summer heat than the winter cold.
But this does not mean that PVC decking will break under with snow. It means that it will bend more than more rigid decking. Again, in winter, plastic-based material becomes more rigid. The same is true with both PVC and composite decking.
Yes, snow load is a factor but be assured that your composite deck will support the snow. Snow load is a factor, a factor that the manufacturers have designed for.
Only when snow piles up higher than 3′ (0.9m) on the deck is a concern. But before that happens, a little shovel work will solve that problem. Shovelling off your deck will ensure that it is never overloaded. This brings us to a more significant concern: which composite decking is more resistant to scratching from the snow shovel?
Most Scratch Resistance Composite for Shoveling Snow Off
The best composite decking for shovelling snow off is one with a high resistance to scratching. Not marking with every time, you push the snow shovel over the decking.
First, you should never use a snow shovel with a metal edge, which will damage the decking. This alone will prevent decking damage more than anything else. Don’t play with knives, and you won’t get cut. The same for your deck, don’t shovel with a sharp-edged shovel or use an ice scraper, and your composite is less likely to be scratched.
But even with a plastic shovel, the motion of shovelling the snow off can damage the decking if the cap is not durable enough.
What makes composite decking resistant to marking from a snow shovel?
At first, to answer this question, my thoughts went to the hardness rating of the decking. I researched the different hardness ratings of composite decking, for which there is a good deal of variation. With some decking, Trex, for example scoring much better in the compression test. With almost half the indent as Fiberon horizon with the same ball bearing test.
|Fiberon Horizon||8.0 mm|
|Trex Transcend||414 or 3.8mm|
But the more I thought about it. This is only relevant with snow removal if you are pushing into the decking. For example, breaking ice with an ice-scraper. But this is an absolute no, no. Under no circumstance should you ever use an ice scraper on a composite deck.
Then our focus is on the cap of the composite decking. Fortunately, almost every quality composite decking these days has a polymer cap protecting the decking and dressing it up.
There are two ways to deal with the snow shovel scraping the decking as you shovel the snow off. Make the shell so tough that it doesn’t mark or provide texture on the decking to hide small scratches from the shovel. Even better, have both.
If you are concerned about shovel marks, you will want to avoid most decking with cathedral wood grain pattern. The lopping circles will highlight a shovel mark cutting through the design. This removes many composite decking boards from Trex Transcend to TimberTech Pro Reserve Collection. As they all have beautiful cathedral wood grain patterns. Lovely for summer but not shovel marks.
I would recommend most TimberTechdecking boards with a brushed finish for hiding small scratches left by snow shovels. The brushed finish is very similar to small scraps on a deck board.
Boards with excellent blending patterns with a wire-brushed finish I believe Vintage Collection® is the best composite decking for hiding small snow shovel marks. The brushed texture making it hard to see small scrapes on the decking, plus the pattern camouflage better than cathedral patterns. As an added bonus, Vintage Collection® has one of the higher traction ratings. Looking good while minimizing slips in snow on your deck.
The Vintage Collection also has an industry-leading cap with a 50-year warranty. It is strong and durable and will hold up to most deck winter care. Still no metal shovels but durable for use.
After the Vintage Collection, I would recommend Terrain Collection™ for a better price point but having an excellent scratch hiding quality.
“rugged wood grain pattern designed to camouflage everyday wear and tear.”TimberTech
This board with an intentional design element to minimize the appearance of surface damage. Which I always appreciate. Beautiful off the truck is nice, but how it will look after 20 000 feet, dog claws, and snow shovels is priceless. Quality must stand the test of time and use.
TimberTech for the Terrain Collection provides a 30-year warranty. That’s a lot of years of camouflaging small shovel marks while giving you a deck to enjoy.
Source of Decking Data
Fiberon Decking, Secondary Source