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What's behind our decking Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 6 models in decking to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    Overall score based mainly on resistance to color change, staining, slips, flexing, sagging, mildew after one year outdoors. Ratings of previously tested models may have changed due to changes in scores for resistance to flexing and sagging.Tests are with original finish; treating wood would improve its scores. Displayed scores rounded; models listed by precise overall score.
  • Resistance to slipping
    Resistance to slipping is amount of friction for leather and neoprene under wet and dry conditions.
  • Resistance to flexing
    Resistance to flexing is resistance to bending under load.
  • Resistance to sagging
    Resistance to sagging is resistance to permanent bending from gravity over time.
  • Resistance to mildew
    Resistance to mildew reflects resistance to growth in damp or humid, shady areas.
  • Resistance to staining
    Resistance to staining is resistance to ketchup, mustard, other common spills
  • Resistance to color change
    Resistance to color change reflects retention of original color, based on weathering, cleaning


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Recommended decking

Recommended decking are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Ratings
The best composite, plastic, and aluminum decking in our tests still looked good after a year outdoors without the usual refinishing. You might also prefer the more natural look of wood decking, provided that you stain it and repeat the process every one to three years. If you're looking for information about decks, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports’ deck reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our deck buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased ratings and deck reviews to help you choose the best deck for your needs.

Decking buying guide

About 80 percent of homeowners who install decks use wood. But synthetic planks can offer good looks with less upkeep. Composites, which blend ground-up wood and plastic, have chipped away at wood's popularity. Some contain recycled plastic.

If your decking has cracks, looks dirty, or suffers from mildew, it's time to decide whether to refinish or replace it entirely. Signs of an unsafe deck are often less obvious, but safety checks are critical when deciding to repair or replace. Also, if your deck was built before 2004, it's probably made of lumber treated with chromated copper arsenate. Regular refinishing helps to seal in the toxic arsenic that CCA decking contains. But if the finish is flaking or worn off in spots, we suggest hiring a pro who's equipped to safely remove the old finish, dust, and debris and then refinish it.

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