Composite decking is a great alternative to wood. Available in a variety of colours and styles, composite resembles the texture and natural tones of wood. Not only is it resistant to rot and mold, the material fends of damage caused by wood-eating insects and sunlight. It is also low maintenance without the need to paint and refinish it like wooden decks. Here are five tips to keep your composite decking looking beautiful.
1. Read the manufacturer’s guide
Read the installation instructions carefully. Composite is very different from wood. For example, it can not be used for structural components of your deck like joists and corner posts. The instructions will tell you what tools are safe to use to cut, drill and fasten. When the temperature rises, composite expands more along is length and less across its width than wood. You need to account for this when installing your deck, so review the instructions and the end-gap chart. You should also follow the manufacturer’s directions when it comes to cleaning and maintaining your deck.
2. Use the right tools
Whether you are building your deck, you need to use the right tools to avoid damaging the natural look of the composite. Although standard woodworking tools can be used on composite lumber, ideally you should use carbide-tipped blades. Use moderate feed pressure to prevent the product from melting and the cutting tool from jamming. You also need to use the proper tools for cleaning your deck once it is installed. Avoid using shovels and sharp edges to remove snow and ice. If you ever pressure wash the deck, set the washer at under 1,500 psi and use it at least 12 inches or 30 centimetres from the surface.
3. Plan ahead before installing your deck
Composite products are more expensive than wood, so building a deck can be expensive. To keep your budget on track, be sure to plan your installation to avoid wasting material. You should also shop around for products to see where you can get the best price. To avoid costly mistakes, follow the product’s instructions including predrilling screw holes if needed. In most cases, special fasteners and techniques are needed. Install hidden fasteners as instructed to ensure the material is able to move as the temperature changes.
4. Ensure the structure is sound
Before installing your deck, make sure the frame is structurally sound. If any component of a pre-existing frame is damaged or if there are signs of rot, replace or repair them before installing the composite lumber. Cut and lay out the boards all at once before fastening any to the joists. The outer-most edge board must be parallel with the deck frame. When fitting each board, make sure that they are straight and secured to the joists. Carefully inspect the deck once it is finished and check that is it safe and secure before using it.
5. Clean your deck regularly
Wood decks need love and attention each year to repair and refresh the boards. A good clean might also be needed to remove mold, mildew and other debris. Although composite decks do not need the same level maintenance, care is still needed to keep the material looking great after you install your decking. You should clean your deck at least twice a year, but be sure to keep it dry and clean throughout the year. Remove dirt or debris with a broom or use soap, water and a brush. Any oil or grease should be removed quickly. If there is mold, use a cleaning product designed especially for removing mold. You can prevent mold growth by having good ventilation under and between the boards.