5 Best Decking Materials for Full Sun

When installing a new deck, you need to consider how it will hold up against the elements. Resistance to moisture is obviously important, but many people forget to consider the impact of the sun.

UV rays can damage your deck, but some materials are more resistant to the sun than others. You should take this into account when designing your deck, especially if you live in a hot climate. Think about where the decking will be positioned too. If it will get full sun all day, the impact of the UV rays will be much greater.

As well as deck maintenance, you should consider comfort too. If your deck gets too hot, it won’t be a relaxing space to sit on during the day.

This guide will give you all of the information you need about the best decking materials for full sun so you can make the right choice when designing your deck.

What Happens to a Deck in the Sun?

The sun can cause a lot of damage to a deck, especially if it is exposed to UV rays for extended periods of time. Over time, the sun will cause the wood to fade and the finish to crack. The decking may also start to warp and split.

This happens because the wood contracts and expands in the heat, and the sun can accelerate this process. The UV rays can also damage the fibers in the wood, leading to a decrease in strength.

Over time, your deck will fade to a dull grey color. You can remedy this by painting or staining the deck to return it to its original color, but if you use a material that isn’t very UV-resistant, it will be a constant problem.

What to Consider Before Buying a Full Sun Decking Material?

The Color

The color makes a big difference to how hot your deck will get in the sun. Darker colors absorb more heat than lighter colors, so if you have a deck that is going to be in full sun all day, you should choose a light color.

Dark colors will be uncomfortable and the increased heat also means the wood is more likely to warp and split.

UV Fade-Resistance

You should also consider how well the decking material will stand up to the sun’s UV rays. Over time, the sun can cause the color to fade and the finish to crack.

Some materials are more resistant to this than others, and certain treatments can help to increase UV resistance. Using a decking material that has poor UV resistance means that you will constantly be painting or staining it to maintain the color.

Moisture and Water Resistance

The decking material should also be resistant to moisture and water. If the wood gets wet, it will swell and can cause the decking to warp or split. The chances of mildew and rot are also greatly increased when the deck absorbs a lot of water.

Some materials are more resistant to moisture than others, so you need to choose carefully. If you live in a climate with high levels of rainfall, you should choose a material that has good water resistance.

Does it Require Maintenance?

You should also consider how much maintenance the decking material will require. Some materials need to be regularly sealed or stained to maintain their color and finish, while others are virtually maintenance-free.

A natural wood deck will require yearly sealing to prevent rot. You may also need to use UV inhibitors to stop fading. However, composite decking or pressure-treated wood is already more resistant to moisture and UV without any additional treatments.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of time on deck maintenance, choose a material that is treated beforehand to make it waterproof and UV resistant.

5 Best Decking Materials for Full Sun

1. Composite

composite wood plank

Composite decking is made from a combination of wood fibers and plastic. It is a popular choice for decking because it provides added durability and it is very resistant to moisture. It is also an excellent choice for a full sun deck because it has high resistance to UV rays, so you don’t experience much fading. Often, a composite deck will fade slightly in the first six months but after that, it will maintain its color for years to come. When natural wood fades, it turns a dull grey color, but when composite fades, it simply becomes a slightly lighter shade, which is less of a problem.

You also have a huge range of colors to choose from with composite decking. So, you can get a light color that won’t get too hot in full sun. There are many different brands to choose from, so you can easily find the perfect color for your full sun deck.

Check out some of our related composite decking articles:

2. Ipe

ipe deck installation by pool in sun

Ipe is one of the hardest woods available, so it is perfect for a deck that will be in full sun. It is also very resistant to moisture and rot, making it a good choice for areas with high rainfall. Ipe will not warp or split, even in extreme weather conditions.

Ipe decking can fade if it is exposed to UV rays, but this can be avoided by applying timber oil on a regular basis. However, if you do allow the deck to fade, it turns a more attractive grey color than other types of wood.

Ipe is also excellent for a full sun deck because it doesn’t retain heat as much as other materials. So, even in the height of summer, it will never be too hot to walk on.

3. Teak

teak deck by pool outside

Teak is a beautiful type of wood that is perfect for a full sun deck. It has a high oil content, which makes it resistant to moisture and rot. Teak also has a natural defense against pests, so you don’t have to worry about termites or other insects damaging the wood.

Teak will fade if it is in full sun without proper protection. However, if you keep up with maintenance and apply oil or stain on a regular basis, it holds its color brilliantly.

Check out our related teak articles: 

4. Cedar

cerar wood planks

Cedar is a popular choice for a deck because it is naturally resistant to rot and moisture. Cedar also has a beautiful color that will darken over time to create a rustic look.

Cedar does not have high resistance to UV rays, so it will fade if it is in full sun without proper protection. However, it is still a good option for full sun because it is not prone to warping and cracking in high temperatures.

In terms of heat retention, cedar comes a close second behind Ipe and won’t get too hot, even on the warmest days.

5. Pressure-Treated Wood

pressure treated deck in sun

Pressure-treated wood is a good option for a full sun deck because it is already treated to make it waterproof and UV resistant. This is done by adding a chemical to the wood that helps to protect it from the elements.

It is also a very affordable option, which makes it a popular choice for those on a budget.

See our related pressure treated wood articles: 

What is the Lowest Maintenance Deck Option?

Composite decking is the lowest maintenance option because it doesn’t require any treatments to keep it waterproof or UV resistant. It is made from a combination of wood fibers and plastic, so it is very durable and long-lasting.

You don’t need to stain and seal the deck boards on an annual basis as you would with natural wood decking, and the composite material is very resistant to UV rays, so it won’t lose its color. If it does fade, it won’t go grey like real wood, it will just get lighter in color.

Does Composite Decking Get Hotter than Wood?

Although composite decking is a low-maintenance option, it can cause issues with heat retention. The plastic in the composite material can absorb heat, making the boards hotter than natural wood.

This can be a problem on warm days, as the decking can become too hot to walk on in direct sunlight. It is worth noting that this is not a problem with all composite decking brands, as some have developed materials that don’t retain heat as much as others.

Composite decking also cools faster than a lot of natural wood once it is in the shade. So, it can be better if your deck is only in the sun for part of the day, but for a full sun deck, composite materials may be too hot.

Alternative Decking Options for Full Sun 

Choosing the right materials is important for a full sun deck, but there are other options to help you manage the impact of constant sun exposure.

Paint the Deck with Light Colored Paint

If you want to keep your deck cooler, painting it with light-colored paint can help reflect the sun’s rays and keep the temperature down. This is a good option if you have a dark-colored deck that gets very hot in the sun.

You will need to repaint the deck every few years as the paint will eventually fade, but it is a relatively low-maintenance option.

Shelter the Deck

An awning is a great way to shelter your deck from the sun and keep it cooler. There are many different styles of awnings available, so you can find one that compliments the look of your home.

Awnings can be retractable, so you can choose to have them up all the time or only when you need them. They are also relatively easy to install, so you can do it yourself if you are handy.

Alternatively, if you want a more permanent solution, consider building a pergola. This is an open-sided roof that will provide shade for your deck. Most decks are able to support the structure but some cannot. You can find a guide here to help you determine whether a pergola is a viable option for your full sun deck.

Final Thoughts

A full sun deck can be a great addition to your home, but it is important to choose the right materials to make sure it is durable and long-lasting. There are many different options available, so take your time to find the best one for your needs.

Consider covering the deck to protect it from the UV rays and increase its lifespan too.

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