DIY: Composite Decking Materials
- Choose based on your personal preferences. Some composite decking is offered with a wood-grain appearance or texture. A good texture is important on pool decks, as it helps keep the product from being slippery when wet. Other factors are the availability of trim boards, railing products and post covers. Be sure all the products you need are available in the colors, textures and grain that match your needs. Insure the composite products you choose are treated with a wood preservative or it may eventually rot.
Other choices include plank size, thickness and construction. Some planks may be hollow and have a flexible feel to them when walked on. Your deck joist spacing may be a factor as well. Most composite decking manufacturers require a maximum spacing of 16 inches on center between joists.
- Cut composite decking and similar materials with the same tools used for cutting wood. Use a new, quality framing blade in a circular saw to cut the decking. Post covers, railings and trim boards can be cut on a miter saw. Notches in the decking can be made with a jigsaw. The materials cut easily with little tear out, resulting in smooth, clean cuts.
- Install the decking according to the manufacturer's instructions for fastening and spacing the boards. Usually, a 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch gap is required, which allows rainwater to drain through and provides room for expansion. Use the special screws provided and drill pilot holes if necessary. Some manufacturers provide a hidden clip system, which speeds installation.
Screws which are driven through the face of the decking into the joists may require pre-drilling, especially at the ends. The screws have a special head and threads which allow the screw to seat into the composite material without mushrooming it out, at the same time drawing the plank tight to the joist.
- Finishing touches will make your deck look distinctive. Use composite 4 x 4 post covers and railings. The post covers slide over the 4 x 4 railing posts. Railings come in pairs, top and bottom, with matching balusters. Fasten them to the posts with color-matched brackets and screws. Pre-drill the balusters and screw them to the railings.
Treads and risers cut from decking material can make matching stairs. Post caps are construction glued in place for a matching accent. Finally, add trim boards and lattice skirting to the sides to conceal the framing and keep animals from beneath the deck.