Decking Scratch Test: Azek vs. TimberTech vs. Ipe vs. Cedar
Is there a solution to a scratched-up deck?
Nothing is more frustrating than getting a brand-new deck installed in your backyard, then having your neighbors come over and drag the outdoor furniture across it causing all kinds of scratches. No matter how those scratches happened, we set out to find the most scratch-resistant decking product. We used four different types of decking: Cedar (softwood), Ipe (Brazilian hardwood), TimberTech (Capped Composite), and Azek (100% PVC). I invited my friend Matt Risinger from The Build Show to come out to the TimberTown Austin location to put these boards to the test.
To replicate what you would typically see on a scratched deck board, Matt took a screw and uniformly scratched each of the surfaces. Here's what we discovered. Cedar will show scratches, especially if it has a stain applied to it. Ipe, which is a very dense Brazilian hardwood, barely shows the scratch made by the screw. TimberTech also didn't show the scratch because of its thick polyurethane cap.
Lastly, Azek could be scratched, but we learned that when using a heat gun you can diminish the appearance of some of those scratches. You want to practice this technique on some sample boards first, because when you have an 850-degree heat gun and you hold it in place too long it will start to melt the board. In fact, in a couple of spots we held kept the heat gun in place too long and could see that board start to melt and even char. So, use a sample board and do some practice passes first, but you should see that minor scratches are diminished in appearance with that heat gun.
So if you're prone to getting scratches on your deck - whether from pets, kids, or parties - then you want to consider Azek. For your next choice, TimberTech and Ipe are also great options because they're very scratch resistant, and with Ipe you can most likely sand a lot of those scratches out.
To see this and other tests in more detail, be sure to check out Matt Risinger's Build Show episode on this very topic.