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Best Decking for Full Sun

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two chairs on deck overlooking ocean

Looking for the best decking for full sun? Before you begin building the deck of your dreams, choosing which material is most suited to your needs is essential. If you live in a hotter climate, it’s important to make sure you choose a decking material that will hold up in the summer months. But with so many options, it can be hard to know which one to go with. 

Overall, composite decking is the ideal decking material for a full sun deck. When compared to other decking materials, it performs well in the sun’s heat, reduces fading and disintegration from high levels of sun exposure, and exhibits minimal expansion and contraction from heat.

When it comes to decking, it seems everyone’s got a favorite. Read on to find out which decking is best for full sun and what to look for when picking your material. 

How Does Sun Affect Wood?

When wood is exposed to the elements, it naturally weathers due to UV radiation. The cellular structure of wood decking boards is cooked and dried up by these rays and. As the board continues to dry, it will start cracking and splintering causing a structural concern. This UV degradation also causes the wood to turn gray.

Full-sun decks facing south are the most heavily weathered, followed by decks facing west. If your dream is to build a south-facing deck, you need to take into serious consideration the materials to be used.

Composite Decking vs. Traditional Wood

Composite decking is the most popular deck material in the twenty-first century. It not only has a stunning appearance and is available in a broad range of hues, but it also lasts a long time with minimal care on your side.

Composites will be hot to the touch during the summer because of the material used to build them, but not as hot as you may assume. While early composite decking were extremely temperature-sensitive and infamously hot, most modern composite decking will be more heat resistant. 

Modern composite deck boards do not become hotter than regular wood decking planks. Furthermore, composites cool down faster than wood once they are in the shade. The latest composite decking types are also starting to look like actual wood. You can now obtain decking that appears like ipe or cumaru for that natural hardwood look without fading.

Why Traditional Wood Isn’t Good in the Sun

Traditional wood is a poor choice for full sun decking for various reasons. Not only does it absorb and hold heat more easily, but direct sunlight causes the moisture in the wood to evaporate faster, causing cracking and splintering. In addition, UV radiation will damage the color of your wood deck.

If you do decide to go with wood decking, it will require more maintenance to keep it looking good. You’ll need to pressure wash the deck and stain and/or paint the deck regularly.

Things To Look for in Full Sun Decking

Before selecting decking, you should know what to look for when building a deck that will be exposed to direct sunlight. While choosing a decking that looks good is crucial, you also want one that will last. I doubt replacing and repairing decking every few years is on anyone’s wish list.

Traditional wood has been the most popular deck material for decades, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best option. Wood alternatives, such as capped composite decking, are more resilient. Not only that, but they are eco-friendly and can look like actual wood.

Here are a few things to check for while installing decking in direct sunlight.

Fade Resistance

Fade resistance is one of the most crucial elements to consider when looking for the best composite decking for full sun. Choosing to deck with long-lasting fade-resistance keeps your deck looking new for longer.

UV Resistant Capping

Look for composite decking with complete capping and UV inhibitors built-in. Capping is the protective material that seals the board. While even the most solar-resistant wood decking requires frequent staining and oiling, completely capped composite decking does not require any such maintenance. 

Heat Resistance

One of the most common complaints about decking is that it gets too hot when exposed to direct sunshine. On a hot summer day, almost any surface will become too hot. Ipe, Cedar, redwood, and pressure treated pine are wood options that are known to stay cool.

Because of the material used to make them, composites will be hotter to the touch during the summer. However, composite decking will still work if you reside in a hotter area. One benefit of composites over wood is that they cool down faster once in the shade. 

Light-Colored Deck Boards

Another way to fight the heat is to opt for light-colored boards. The amount of heat that your decking surface absorbs vs. how much it reflects is what causes it to get hotter in the sun. The darker the color of the surface, the more heat is absorbed and the hotter it becomes.

The best composite decking for full sun is gray or tan colored boards. 

Moisture Resistance

As an organic substance, wood is very susceptible to mold and decay and will undoubtedly suffer from some type of moisture damage, which can compromise your decking boards over time. This can be seen in the form of warping, cracking, or splintering, which can be caused by moisture-induced expansion and contraction in traditional wood.

Choose a decking board that is resistant to moisture. This improves the health and safety of your deck by preventing structural damage caused by mold, mildew, or decay. This also gets rid of the need to re-seal your deck with hazardous chemicals every few years.

Verdict: What’s the Best Decking for Full Sun?

If you want a full sun deck, composite is the finest option. While more expensive than wood at first, composite decking saves thousands of dollars in maintenance, repairs, and replacements over time.

Composite decking materials are among the fastest-growing decking solutions available today, comprised mostly of wood fibers and recyclable polymers. They will not twist or split because they were manufactured artificially, and they will not be harmed by rot or insects.

Though they don’t require much upkeep, you still need to clean composite decking regularly to keep them looking their best. Composite decking is a very long-lasting solution, making them the number one choice for full sun decking.

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Jena Slocum Co-Founder

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2 Comments

  1. Interesting. Have composite deck on south side of house with a sun wall beside it. The reflection Veronica the glass has caused extreme damage to the decking.
    Is there a Good composite that can take a lot of reflected Iowa sun?

    I’m considering Installing Silks grates and placing pavers.
    At

    1. Hi John, thanks for the question. My first question to you is how old is the composite? The newer composite that was showcased on our article best composite decking can handle sun much better that composite built just 10 years ago. On the other hand, if you believe pavers might be a better choice, do know that they will be extremely hot for bare feet. Good luck either way you go.

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