A composite decking project is an investment for your home that will add value to your property, enhance your outdoor space and last for years to come. Unlike timber and other decking materials, composite decking requires very little maintenance, won’t fade to grey and won’t spilt, crack or warp.
One factor that can shorten the lifespan of even the best composite deck, however,is poor installation. To ensure a long lasting, high-quality deck, you need to make sure that your decking is properly installed on a stable well-made support structure using the right tools and fixings.
Installing an outdoor deck is a popular DIY project and one that is within the capabilities of an experienced home handy person. However, there are some important differences between timber deck installation and composite deck installation.
To make sure your decking project is on the right track, we have some helpful dos and don’ts for composite decking installation.
You should always…
- Use the right tools: Due to their plastic content, composite boards are denser and harder than timber boards. Therefore, blades designed to cut timber will quickly go blunt. Composite cutting blades are specifically designed to remain sharp while cutting through this type of decking board.
- Leave adequate ground clearance: Proper ground clearance under your deck allows for adequate air flow, which helps to keep your deck cool. For some products, proper ground clearance is also necessary to ensure warranty guidelines are adhered to.
- Build a stable support structure: Your decking support structure should be able to comfortably support the weight of your deck and should be properly sunk into the ground. Since your support structure will likely be timber, it’s important that the support stumps are properly treated against termites and moisture.
- Use the correct fixings: Some composite decking boards come with specially designed fixing systems. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s directions when using these fixings. If it’s a top fixing system, make sure you pre-drill and counter-sink before inserting the screws. Since composite boards aren’t fibrous like timber, failure to counter-sink your holes means that boards can mushroom up over the screws and increase the likelihood of splitting or cracking a board.
Keep these in factors in mind and you should be much more likely to end up with a finish that you can be proud of.
You should never…
- Use a nail gun: Composite boards need to be pre-drilled. Using a nail gun will increase the risk of splitting boards. In fact, nails should not be used at all. The natural expansion and contraction of composite boards can start to work nails free over time. To avoid this, you should always use high-quality screws.
- Cut boards at different times of the day:Because boards will expand and contract with different temperatures and humidity, it’s recommended that you cut all boards at the same time of the day to ensure consistent lengths.
- Build directly onto soil or grass:As mentioned above, adequate ground clearance is important for a few reasons. You should also avoid building directly onto soil or grass as this won’t create a stable ground structure to support the decking.
Keeping these dos and don’ts in mind will ensure minimal maintenance and repair work, helping you to get the most out of your decking for years to come.