BuildDirect Blog: Life at Home

Composite Decking Installation Tips

First of all, what are composite decks?

Composite decks are made from a material that is a combination of plastic and recycled organic fibers. The slats are intended to last for many, many years with low to no maintenance. There is no painting or priming, and sealant is not necessary. Composite has very minimal fading, and therefore does not require staining. It can be purchased in an assortment of pre-dyed colors, giving homeowners many options when choosing their deck style. The composite is intended to imitate the look and feel of real wood, with the ease and durability of a plastic.

The supplies for this project include:

Composite deck boards 300x202 Composite Decking Installation TipsWhen installing composite decking there are some easy options that are available. First, the decking can come with grooves, similar to a dovetail groove, and the pieces can be interlocked together, providing an automatic spacing line. The screws help to hold the decking in place, the interlocking feature is the key to its ultimate placement. The composite can also come with a blunt edge side, just like real wood, and this would require more measuring and care in applying spacing between sections.

Make sure your composite deck is building code compliant

The beginning process of deck building will remain the same with the installation of composite decking. You will still need to gather the proper permits and licenses from your city, county or township. Make sure to mention during your permit application that you will be using fire-resistant composite decking materials. This could make a difference for your permit status. The following is a great reference on how to prepare for, and install your new composite deck.

Frame your composite deck

Frame the deck using wood 2″‘ x 4′” strips. This is what the composite will be resting on, and it will also be covered. This frame lends strength and function to the deck. You should include a slope of 1/16 inch per foot to allow water to move away from the walls. This will be part of the code structure for permits.

Include studs in the framing that are 16 inches apart. This is a good distance for the attaching segments of decking to the frame. Take note to make sure that joists are spaced appropriately, as there are weight limits that the composite decking can handle while over empty spaces.

Tip: refer to the manufacturers suggestion and recommendations for installation on the weight bearing tolerances.

Composite decking layout

Composite deck installation 300x223 Composite Decking Installation TipsOnce the frame is complete and joists are in place, you can begin to place the decking on top. You can cut the pieces using a skill saw or miter saw. Make sure that the screws used are to the manufacturers specifications as this could potentially compromise the material. You will then attach the slats using the screws in notches that are already grooved out by the manufacturer.

If using interlocking slats, you will need to screw them into the joists below. This is the same for flush sided pieces and butt joints.

Once all of the pieces are installed, you can sweep the area clean and admire your work. Composite decking has no priming, painting, or sealing requirements, so once the project is complete you just need to enjoy it.

To help you choose composite decking, you can get free samples from us here at BuildDirect. This allows you to see first-hand the types of materials that are available.

Enjoy your new composite deck!

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.

1 Comment

  1. good tips and valuable info, thanks for sharing.
    Composite wood decking is a fairly new technology that combines recycled wood and plastic to form a durable, more resilient decking surface. This recycling makes it a good environmental choice, as the wood that goes into its construction is the waste from other wood products.

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