How to Install Composite Decking — Build Your Own Composite Deck DIY Project

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If you have been dreaming of upgrading your outdoor space with some spark of modernity, this article is for you.

Your outdoor space can get elevated into a beautiful and updated look with a composite deck.

Putting down composite decking is a perfect DIY project, easy to install at home, and will save you some bucks compared to hiring someone.

Composite decks are durable and sophisticated; the more reason many homeowners are installing them today. They are resistant to rot hence guaranteed longevity. Such floors are strong and resilient because of the material it is made from; wood and plastic. It is also low maintenance and an alternative to wood decks.

Composite decking has either a solid edge or a grooved edge, which makes assembly efficient. They can either be long and narrow, like deck planks. Or you can purchase square composite flooring deck tiles — either solid pieces or made from multiple smaller pieces in a pattern.

Many DIY’ers choose the composite tiles because they are easier to handle, not to mention the fact that they built in designs allow for impressive looking decks without any fancy cutting or planning.

With some attention to detail and a few extra hands to assist, you will be able to have a new deck surface in no time!

Steps for Installing a Composite Deck

Below is a step-by-step guide for installing composite decking. Please note, these instructions do not include the “how to’s” for setting up the foundation for where your deck will be going. For composite decks or patios, you want to ensure that the surface is level.

Additionally, we are not going to be covering how to build an entire raised deck. That goes well beyond the scope of this article, and unless you have construction experience, building a full deck is not a casual, weekend DIY project for beginners.

Step One: Safety First!

As with any construction project, safety is an essential factor to consider before you venture into building your composite decking. Ensure you have the right protective gear; you must always protect yourself at all times. Wear some safety glasses, overall, the right shoes and gloves.

If you have family, ensure children are not allowed around the working area until you are done and the working area clear of any dangerous material like nails and screws. Organize your tools and materials in a manner than you can easily reach them, and when done with work, collect every device and put them together in a box.

Pro Tip: When seeking a permit to construct your composite decking, one of the issues the authorities check is how prepared you are. They will check for safety first before anything else. Ensure you meet all the safety standards and regulations.

Step Two: Ensure You Have a Permit

Even with a DIY project, you need to have permission from the authorities. Check out all the building requirements in your town and ensure you get permits for building, especially if you are building a composite deck from scratch. It is a different case with a repair.

It also advisable to consult a professional since composite decking is not made of wood, but plastic and wood particles ~ they are not as strong as wood, so you need expert advice on the suitability of your composite decking.

If you are building a floating composite deck, some municipalities do not require a permit because they are not attached to the building and sit sturdily on the ground. However, you should always double check just in case.

Step Three: Assemble the Tools and Materials

Before you embark on installing your composite decking, ensure you assemble all the tools and materials, you will need for the project. Make a list of all the things you will need and go to the store for the stuff that you don’t already have at home.

On the day of the installation, ensure you assemble all the materials and placed them strategically at your workstation for easy reach. The tools and materials you will need include, and not limited to: a chalk line, saw, corded or cordless drill/screwdriver, composite decks, glue, and a power plane.

Step Four: Mix Up the Colors

You can be extra creative, depending on your preference and, of course, where you are placing your composite decking. You don’t have to stick to one color decking if you don’t want to.

Composite boards come together with protective rails, and most boards are brown; therefore, you can choose a matching color for the tracks. Be creative enough to find a complementary color that matches your preferences; the possibilities are endless.

Video: Updating Your Deck with New Composite Decking Boards

How to update your old deck with composite decking. | Courtesy of DoItYourself

Step Five: Flatten the Edges

Composite decking comes in two types; one with a solid edge and one with a grooved edge. Also, some joists come in different sizes. When decking, you want your beams to be of the same size, and the edges flat. It is important to flatten the edges and cut off the extra pieces to be of the same size.

The beauty of composite decking is that they are not as hard as pure wood (they are made of plastics and wood particles). Therefore, flattening the edges and cutting them into the same size is not much of a hustle. You can use the power plane to bring all the beams down to the same size.

Pro Tip: Leveling your joists to the same size will give you a better-looking deck.

Step Six: Install Fasteners

Installing fasteners on your composite decking can be done in two ways: screwing/nailing or using a hidden clasp. If you like to walk barefoot on your deck, it is advisable to use hidden fasteners.

To install a hidden latch, drill a screw into the first board, slide another board over it, and clip it on top of each screwed beam below it. Use a rubber mallet to tighten the screws to ensure they screw holds the boards together but is not visible from the upper board.

On the other hand, to fasten your composite decking using screws/nails, use the appropriate nails (decking screws), not just any type of pin you get at the store. They sink into the composite decking and do not easily back out like regular nails. These can be visible, but they do not pose any danger. However, when drilling the nails, there is a chance that your boards could crack, so you have to be careful.

Video: How to Build a Low Level Composite Deck – DIY Deck Build

Layout, Framing, and Composite Decking Guide | Courtesy of Komar Project

Step Seven: Apply a Protective Layer

Since your composite decking is made of plastic and wood materials, it is more likely to rot if moisture is allowed to settle. And whey they rot, it reduces the lifespan of your composite decking. You can prevent this by adding a protective layer on your beams.

The top edge is the one place that your joints start to deteriorate from, also between the beams, if enough spacing is not observed. To keep them from absorbing moisture and rotting, roll a butyl tape on top of the beams to add more life to your framing.

Pro Tip: Avoid the shiny tapes; they will be noticeable. You want something that is a uniform color with your pallets.

It is easy to install composite decks by yourself without expert help, but it is essential to follow all the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. Composite decks are mostly made of plastic and wood particles; therefore, they are prone to expansion and contraction due to the different weather conditions.

Following the layout guidelines, for instance, the decks’ correct spacing will allow for the thermal expansions without causing damage to your project. Proper spacing allows free movement and changes between the seasons of the year and increases your composite decking’s longevity.