There’s nothing more thrilling than having a great outdoor deck as a comfortable and private outdoor living space. Unfortunately, using ordinary wood to bring such ideas to life is fast running out of fashion as more homeowners turn to composite decking almost every day when beautifying their homes or boosting their value.
Composite decking may be easy to install, but there are a few installation problems you should avoid. Making such installation mistakes can be costly in the long run. This is why it’s always advised to hand such projects to professionals by searching for decking installers near me on search engines.
The initial cost of installing composite decking is decidedly higher than wood decking. Nevertheless, homeowners love composite decking because it doesn’t require regular maintenance, which could be a pain in the neck in the long run. In other words, the amount of money you’ll save in maintenance costs after years of using composite decking can be substantial.
Top Mistakes to Avoid When Installing Composite Decking
You’ll only enjoy the benefits of composite decking to the maximum if you avoid the following composite decking installation mistakes, arranged in no particular order:
1. Spacing the joists too far apart.
Every composite decking installation needs joists for support. But what if these joists are positioned a little too far apart? This is another common mistake some DIY enthusiasts make without even realising it.
Positioning joists a little too far apart creates safety hazards you may not be aware of for your outdoor deck. Therefore, when using joists, especially pressure-treated pine options, ensure they measure 2 inches by 10 inches.
The joists should also be spaced at least 30 centimetres apart. However, experts recommend using composite joists since they’re much more durable than their pressure-treated counterparts.
Ensure you use composite joists correctly positioned at intervals not less than 35 centimetres. The professional or composite decking company you use should shed more light on this.
2. Faulty deck foundation.
The improper installation of concrete foundation is another common composite decking installation mistake you should avoid, no matter what.
The concrete footings need to be installed correctly below the frost line. If done otherwise and exposed to frigid weather, the concrete footings may end up severely damaged.
Therefore, ensure your concrete extrusion is remarkably good to make your composite deck safer and stronger.
3. Using zero lag head screws.
When there are zero lag screw heads, it implies an issue with the ledger board attachment. Lag head screws are essential components that help prevent composite decking—or any other type of decking—from collapsing unexpectedly.
Most DIY enthusiasts make this mistake by only using simple screws or nails to attach the ledger to the house. Unfortunately, these fasteners can’t effectively do the job of lag screw heads.
Therefore, get a certified composite decking specialist to check out the ledger board attachment before commencing with the new composite decking installation.
In most cases, one can correct this mistake by adding the correct number of lag screw heads to this existing frame. But you can only know this when a professional closely examines that area.
4. Insufficient ventilation.
Composite decking generally comes with excellent waterproofing properties. However, the composite deck’s surface starts losing its lustre when exposed to moisture for extended periods. In addition, this humidity significantly promotes mildew and mould growth on composite decking.
Therefore, composite decking will require at least a 12-millimetre clearance from the frame structure. What’s more, maintaining ventilation will facilitate moisture drainage underneath the deck.
5. Erroneous panel installation.
Extending the panels to the very end of the covering deck is another common composite decking installation mistake you should avoid. This error can cause moisture and dirt to easily get trapped in those gaps between adjacent decks.
This could also result in the warping of the composite deck owing to thermal expansion. Therefore, ensure the gap between adjacent decks shouldn’t be less than 8 millimetres when installing composite decking. In addition, the clearance of this composite decking from the wall shouldn’t be less than 5 millimetres.
6. Incorrect positioning of composite decking.
A reliable composite deck manufacturer will generally inform you to leave the composite deck in place for at least one or two weeks before installation. However, this depends primarily on your region since different regions have different air humidity and temperatures.
The primary purpose of leaving the composite deck in place is to allow it to adapt favourably to the local environment. In other words, the composite deck must be allowed to adjust to the local climate.
If you cut the composite deck without allowing time for proper acclimatisation, its dimensions may change soon after cutting. This could result in severe problems when installing the deck, and correcting such faults will result in additional costs.
7. Making use of unmatched screws or fasteners.
Most DIY specialists have many fasteners or screws lying around in their workshops or home. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for them to utilise any of these fasteners when installing composite decking.
However, this is a mistake you should avoid. Every fastener and material used to construct a composite deck has a unique purpose. Most composite decks usually come with matching fasteners or screws.
Moreover, in many cases, composite decking manufacturers provide hidden fasteners or screws you can use during installation. Using these specified fasteners helps make your outdoor space more pleasing in a tasteful way.
8. Weak deck framing.
Most homeowners assume or believe excessive weight is the primary reason for the premature failure of outdoor decks. But this isn’t always the case. Instead, the real reason for the untimely outdoor deck failure is the incorrect fastening of the ledger boards to the house.
Therefore, besides choosing the appropriate hardware for securing ledger boards to the house, the ledger boards require proper flashing so that water can drain easily beneath the finished wall assembly.
Reducing the amount of moisture within the environment as much as possible is highly beneficial as it helps maintain the longevity of the deck frame, just as with any wood.
Composite decking is primarily designed to be highly durable. But you can only enjoy these benefits when it’s installed correctly and in the right manner.
Therefore, ensure you carefully read the installation instructions, or better yet, seek the professional assistance of certified and reliable composite decking experts.