How does deck color affect temperature?

When choosing composite decking, it’s important to consider how the deck’s color will impact its temperature, especially during hot days. On a particularly hot day this last summer we used a heat gun to check the temperature of our Deckorators Composite Deck. We went out on our deck around 1pm while it was only around 78 degrees to see the results. In this article we’ll review the test and look at the science behind the results.

For those that want to see our tests in action check out the Instagram video below! 

The Results

Our tests showed significant differences between the decking colors: the lightest color reached 167 degrees Fahrenheit, the dark brown was 190 degrees, and the black composite board hit about 200 degrees. Again this was only about a 78 degree day, in areas that see 90 degree weather definitely wear shoes!

The Science Behind the Heat

Darker colors absorb more sunlight, leading to higher temperatures, which is a basic principle of light absorption. This can make the deck uncomfortable for use in the summer, particularly for walking barefoot or relaxing directly on the deck’s surface. Meanwhile lighter colors reflect the sun’s heat maintaining a much cooler environment.

Cooling Strategies

For those with existing dark-colored composite decks or who prefer darker shades, there are strategies to mitigate the heat:

Shade structures: Pergolas, umbrellas, and patio covers can reduce direct sunlight on the deck, lowering the surface temperature.
Outdoor rugs: Placing outdoor rugs in high-traffic areas can provide a cooler surface to walk on.
Proper ventilation: Ensuring adequate airflow around and under the decking can help reduce heat buildup.

Seasonal Considerations

In cooler climates or during the winter months, darker decks can absorb more sunlight, providing a slightly warmer surface that may make the deck more enjoyable during cooler weather. This means the choice of decking color often comes down to the environment. For people in the Pacific Northwest a darker deck is often preferred with patio covers and outdoor rugs to combat the summer heat.

In conclusion, the color of composite decking significantly affects its temperature in direct sunlight. Lighter colors stay cooler, making them a practical choice in hot climates or sunny locations. However, if you prefer darker decking, planning for shade and ventilation can help mitigate the heat, making your outdoor space more comfortable during peak summer months.

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