Vinyl porch posts are a good choice for anyone looking to install a porch that is long lasting, low maintenance, and aesthetically pleasing. While not as strong structurally as solid wood, vinyl porch posts need no painting or staining, are easily cleaned, and are much cheaper to buy and install. When vinyl rubs against itself or other materials such as metal, however, squeaking can occur, and mold can grow on vinyl in wetter conditions. A good compromise between the strength of a wood post and the convenience of vinyl porch posts is vinyl covering that goes around a wood or metal post.
Another compromise between vinyl porch posts and the stronger wood posts are wood-vinyl composites. These posts have much of the strength of wood but with the easy maintenance of vinyl. The compromise allows the builder to construct a porch that is moderately strong and aesthetically pleasing while maintaining low levels of maintenance; the material, however, is not quite as strong as wood and not quite as maintenance free as vinyl. The composite may absorb moisture, causing some warping and mold, and under heavier loads, the material may not be as structurally sound as solid wood.
Unlike wooden posts, vinyl porch posts are usually hollow and have an aluminum insert in the center for structural support. They vary in how much weight they can bear, depending on the size, shape, brand, and model. The weight of the posts are much lighter than wood or metal posts since they are hollow and vinyl and aluminum are both generally light materials, but they can be a bit more difficult to work with than wood because the top and bottom of the post has little or no surface area on which to attach screws or nails. Special plates are often necessary to affix the post to other materials. The lightweight vinyl porch posts are easier to maneuver into place than heavier wooden posts.
Most vinyl porch posts are made to preserve their color. Earlier versions of the vinyl post had a tendency to turn yellow after prolonged exposure to the sun, but most posts today come with manufacturer warranties against such yellowing. While mold in cooler and wetter climates can be a problem, vinyl posts are generally easy to clean using a garden hose, soapy water, and clean rags. Wooden posts tend to have a more rustic look to them, while vinyl posts tend to be a cleaner white, which can sometimes come off as sterile and cheap, but some higher end versions can be just as classy and aesthetically pleasing as wood.