How Hot Will My Deck Get?

A question we often get is how hot will a particular decking material get in prolonged direct sunlight. When it comes to decking surfaces not all materials are created equal. The short answer to the question, “How hot will my deck get?” is, it depends. There are several factors.

The Decking Material Matters

Generally speaking some materials stay cooler than others. Natural stone tends to run cooler than most concrete paver products. Factors that can influence how cool a stone feels underfoot include the type of stone, color, surface texture and thickness. But, concrete pavers can vary wildly in their properties, too, so natural stone running cooler than concrete pavers isn’t absolute.

Continuing the generalizations, real wood products tend to stay cooler than composites, though aging, maintenance and natural colors or stains applied can alter this.

Color Impacts Temperature

How hot a particular porcelain paver will get in the sun depends largely upon its color. This is true whether the porcelain pavers are wood-look or stone-look. Under direct sunlight, darker color pavers will generally feel hotter to bare feet.

Location of Decking Application

Another factor that can influence how hot a decking surface will feel is the location of the decking application. A rooftop deck may receive far more solar radiation than a decking application on a building terrace or ground level plaza. Wind exposure and nearby vegetation and other objects and structures can influence temperatures, too.

Avoiding the Hot Feet Effect

If it is likely that people will have bare feet on the decking surface as in a pool surround, interactive fountain, play area, plaza or pedestrian path, then you might want to mitigate the effects of heat. Adding shade, mats, pool-side sandals, misters, forced air, or incorporating a radiant cooling system into your deck design will keep residents’ and guests’ feet from overheating. Remember, human feet are not the only ones that suffer as temperatures soar on hot surfaces. Both cats and dogs can suffer pad burns from walking on hot decking surfaces.

Science Behind How Hot Will My Deck Get

To understand the physics behind how hot materials get in the presence of direct sunlight please visit our Solar Reflectance Index primer. That page also compares SRI values for various decking materials.

Demystifying Decking Material Complexity

Besides “how hot will the deck get” there are many other considerations in choosing decking materials including cost, service life, maintenance, slip-factor, load and impact resistance, aesthetic, installation, LEED, etc. Contact us for help navigating the myriad choices of materials available.

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