Installing Composite Deck Boards

Installing Composite Deck Boards: To DIY or Not?

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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How do you feel about composite deck boards? If you have been to a home improvement store in the last few years, chances are that you have heard of them. Composite deck boards, also known as 'composite fencing' or simply 'composites', are an alternative to traditional wooden planks used on decks. Installing composite deck boards yourself can save money and time but there are things to keep in mind before you run out to pick up a set.

1. Types Of Composite Deck Boards

There are a number of different types of composite deck boards as well as different suppliers. Make sure you research the different types to decide which one is best for your use, and also make sure that you know what tools you will need to work with the particular product.

Some of them are easier to install than others, which is an important factor when figuring out whether you want to DIY it or not. The customer experience aspect is something that companies are putting more focus on, and the people that designed different composite decking from Cladco, for example, have certainly taken this to heart. When this is the case, you can even find detailed instructions on how to install the boards on the company website, which makes for an easier DIY installation.

Besides being cost-efficient, there's also a certain kind of satisfaction from building something with your own hands. If, however, you don't think you're handy enough to take on a project like that, or you simply don't want to invest the time, then hiring someone to do it for you might be better suited to your needs.

2. Tools Needed

As in the first case, this will greatly depend on what type of composite deck you go for. Generally speaking, though, you won't need too many tools for installing your deck boards.

For example, if you choose one of the prefabricated decks that are already finished, then all you'll have to deal with is fastening it down with nails or screws. If you decide on a kit, however, then the work is somewhat harder and more tedious. As with any other construction work, keeping key considerations in mind when you want to build a deck is important. That's why it is best to ask whether or not the retailer will supply extras such as screws and nails with your purchase, since some people have been caught short when their boards arrived without them.

If you're not someone that's ever done this type of work, getting extra screws and nails is a good idea regardless. If you run out, it will be impossible to finish your project, so have at least a few spares on hand. You'll also need a saw of some kind to cut the boards down to size, but that isn't always necessary. In some cases, the boards come in the required dimensions, and they're just meant to be laid on top of one another.

3. Maintenance

Another important factor is the maintenance of your decking. Not only do you want to enjoy it for years to come, but you can also get a better return on investment that way.

Some boards require a sealant to keep them in good condition, so it is a good idea to ask about this before you purchase your decking. It can be applied with a roller, but you might have to put some muscle into it. Since this can impact the end result, it may be a good idea to go with a professional if this step is necessary, if youโ€™re feeling unsure on how to do it. However, if you choose one that doesn't require a topcoat of any kind, then rolling your sleeves up and installing it yourself is a great way to save additional money.

Looking into how often you need to paint, stain and waterproof your deck is also a good idea, as it will guide your decision about who to hire for the installation.

4. Location

The installation process can depend on where exactly you're going to be building your deck. If it's a flat area, then you won't have any issues with the ground being sloped or uneven.

However, if this isn't the case and you'll need to level out the terrain before putting down your boards. This, too, will impact the result and even the installation process itself. If your backyard is only slightly uneven the easiest way to level it out yourself is to use a shovel to move some dirt around. However, if it is significantly sloped, or if you have a large backyard with lots of curves, then hiring professional landscapers to do the work may be the best thing to do.

In addition, as mentioned above, another consideration is whether or not there will be stairs leading up to your deck, or just a flat surface. If you have stairs, then the boards need to be cut to size beforehand so they'll all be similar in width.

5. Cost

The last main point is the cost. As with any home renovation or improvement project, this will vary from person to person depending on what materials you need and how many of them you go through in the process.

There are plenty of options available, and it's a good idea to shop around before making a final decision. This is especially true with composite decking since each brand has a distinctive look and feel to it. Aside from how easy they are to install, you should also check to see if the installation is included in the price. If it is, and you don't really want to do it yourself, then you might as well go with a prefabricated kit from the get-go. If, however, the installation is so easy that the company doesn't offer its own installation service, it might be a sign that it's perfectly safe to DIY it.

There are many considerations to take into account when choosing your decking boards, but these should help if you're unsure about what's best for your backyard or garden. If you need guidance, talk to a professional before making a decision. Composite deck boards are a great alternative to traditional wooden ones. They have the same look and feel like natural wood, but they are far more durable. As long as you can handle basic installation work, you should consider composite decking for your next project.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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