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Synthetic Teak Decking
PVC—PolyVinyl Chloride—is a type of plastic that can be readily modified by manufacturers to match almost any desired set of physical characteristics. It has shown up in such diverse applications as inflatable boats, phonograph records, shower curtains, computer cases, pipes, and house siding. In recent years, PVC has also shown up in the form of synthetic teak decking. It looks and feels amazingly like natural teak, and has some distinct advantages over natural teak in terms of installation, cost, and maintenance.
The synthetic teak decking systems we’ve seen—two PVC-based and one cork-based—are, once installed, quite similar in appearance and texture. They look and feel like rough-sanded teak planking (sans splinters), with caulked strips between the planks. Rounded edge pieces, or “margin boards” make for a neat installation, and if a complete deck is desired (rather than, say, a hatch cover), a wider central “king plank” can be obtained.
Because synthetic teak decking measures just 5 mm (a bit over 3/16″ thick), it’s flexible enough to conform to surfaces that aren’t flat. You install it by gluing it down to a clean surface with a two-part adhesive. One considerable advantage of laying a synthetic deck as compared to a natural wood deck is that you don’t have to drill any holes for screws, thus you don’t compromise the structural integrity of the underlying deck. And the installation is much easier than with real wood because synthetic decking can be cut easily with a sharp utility knife, and most of the caulking required for teak decking is eliminated.
Synthetic teak decking requires little maintenance—occasional washing keeps it in good shape. Pressure washing is feasible. For surface damage, the decking can be sanded, as both the color and the grain extend through the entire thickness.
Though different brands of synthetic teak decking may look quite similar, there are some major differences in design and installation.