We install a lot of composite decking as well as hardwood, cedar, and to a lesser degree, PVC. A common question that comes up is whether or not composite gets too hot in the summer to walk barefoot on. I have come across many customers who told me other contractors told them that it gets too hot, these are usually contractors who prefer a different type of decking of course. So I went ahead and did some research myself to settle the issue and was quite surprised at the results. This research was done at 1:00p.m. in NW Portland, Oregon on 7-21-16 on a full sun day with no clouds. I used a laser thermometer which is a small hand held device that you point at a surface and it immediately gives you a reading of the temperature of that surface.
Here are the results:
The hottest was cedar decking that had a dark red solid color stain on it, it came in at: 157 degrees.
Raw but weathered cedar came in between 142-150 degrees.
Vintage Timbertech PVC decking came in at 140 degrees for a dark walnut color.
I tested several different Trex and Timbertech plastic capped composites (which are our favorites) and the range was between 136-140 degrees. It was surprising that the composite was actually cooler than cedar and it was also surprising that the range of temperature between the lighter and darker colors was only four degrees. I expected a much larger range of temperature.
Fijian mahogany with a transparent stain came in at 130 degrees and raw mahogany came in at 121 degrees.
So the results are in and plastic capped composites are right in the middle of most commonly used types of decking as far as temperature goes when in direct sun.