Open Accessibility Menu

What Type of Decking Stays Coolest in Direct Sun?

Living in the Greater Triangle, you know how hot various outdoor surfaces can become during the sunny summer months. Does your home have a deck that you would like to enjoy but the decking gets uncomfortably hot on sunny, warm days—especially for children and pets? If so, you may want to consider resurfacing your deck with a different material (also known as re-decking). If you're building a new deck and this is a concern, make sure to choose a material and color that will be cooler to the touch.

See It for Yourself

Our team is often asked questions such as: "What is the coolest material for decking?” and “Are composite decking materials hotter than natural wood?” Archadeck designers can advise our clients on the best decking material to meet their specific needs, but seeing is believing. In the video below, we conducted an experiment to show you the temperature differences of TimberTech capped composite, AZEK cellular PVC, and pressure-treated southern yellow pine on a hot, Carolina summer day.

Which Deck Materials Get the Hottest?

As you can see in the video temperature demonstration, we placed six different decking samples outside to bake in the hot sun all day. Then we measured the temperatures of each sample at three different times throughout the day: morning, mid-day, and late afternoon. Here are the results:

decking material by temp

As the experiment results show, material temperatures vary most according to their color. For the Azek and TimberTech composite decking materials, darker colors absorb more heat than lighter ones—they have a higher specific heat capacity, which means they can store more heat energy. The darker colored decking boards also held onto their heat longer as the sun began to dip lower in the sky.
The clear (un-stained) pressure-treated natural wood decking was the coolest of all samples. However, a pressure-treated natural wood deck that isn’t stained will not hold up as well as any of the other materials. Staining the wood will help make your pressure-treated decking last as long as possible but it also increases the heat density, making it comparable to composite decking.
Every deck surface exposed to the full sun in the middle of a hot North Carolina summer will get hot. If you're looking for a deck that will stay cooler longer and cool down more in the afternoon, you'll want to choose a lighter-colored material. If you want a deck that will stay as cool as possible and last as long as possible with minimal maintenance, lighter-colored composite decking is the best choice.

How to Keep Your Deck Cool

If lighter-colored decking still doesn’t meet your needs when trying to temper direct sunlight and heavy heat exposure on your deck, you may want to cover your deck by adding a shade structure. There are a variety of options for adding shade to your deck. For temporary protection, you can install an awning, umbrella, or sail shade to block the sun's rays and keep your deck cooler. For permanent shade, consider adding a porch roof or pergola. In addition to shade, porch roofs also provide protection from rain and the option of adding fans, lighting, and other outdoor living accessories. If you don’t want full coverage, pergolas offer partial shade and a classic look.

Raleigh's Best Deck Builder Provides Expert Advice on Deck Materials

If you're ready to re-deck an existing deck or build a new deck with material and/or a shade structure that will allow greater use of your outdoor living space in the hot summer sun, Archadeck can help you choose the best option to fit your needs, aesthetic, and budget. Call today to schedule a design consultation: 919-973-1523. We look forward to working with you!