Composite Vs. Vinyl Railings


Railings and other trim pieces are the finishing touches to a newly installed deck. Composite and vinyl decking materials are becoming increasing popular due to the interest in environmentally friendly building products.


  • Composite decking components are most often plastic or wood fiber. The most common material is high- and low-density polyethylene plastic. This material comes from recycled milk jugs and plastic grocery bags. Railings are available that match most styles of decking material. Railings will not splinter or decay. The low maintenance and long life of this type of product make it a popular option for decks and railings.


  • Vinyl decking materials have no wood fibers. This material is made of PVC and contains glass and/or carbon fibers. Railings that match some styles of decking are available. Improvements to vinyl decking in recent years have made this product more popular than in the past. The production of this product does not make use of recycled materials.


  • Composite decking is made of 10 to 60 percent recycled products, making it more environmentally friendly than vinyl. This decking comes in solid, hollow and ribbed varieties, with thicknesses up to two inches. Vinyl is available in solid or hollow and is about an inch thick. Vinyl is also available in a ½-inch thickness that is called over-decking. It is designed to be laid over old wood decking. Vinyl is more expensive than lumber and composite materials. As of 2010, vinyl has increased in popularity but has not surpassed other options.

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  • Photo Credit Deck de madeira image by CarlosNeto from
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