Common composite decking mistakes, and how to avoid them

Common composite decking mistakes, and how to avoid them

22 Dec 2023

Arbor Forest Products

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This informal CPD article, ‘Common composite decking mistakes, and how to avoid them‘, was provided by Arbor Forest Products, one of the largest independent timber importing businesses in the UK, providing outstanding service and distribution to merchants.

Composite decking is an increasingly popular choice for transforming outdoor spaces thanks to the multitude of benefits it offers, from durability and minimal maintenance to sustainability and versatility.

While it can provide a fantastic alternative to traditional timber decking, it’s important for specifiers, landscapers and installers to be able to choose the right composite decking for the project, as well as understand the differences when it comes to installation. Here are some of the most common mistakes made during the selection and installation of composite decking, and tips on how to avoid them.

Compromising on quality

While choosing cheaper composite decking brands can be tempting, especially when clients are wanting to upgrade their outdoor space with low budgets, this could cause issues in the future.

As the demand for composite decking continues to grow, the market is receiving an influx of new products – including those designed to appeal to smaller budgets. However, it’s important to note that with this lower price point may come issues relating to quality, so understanding composite decking profiles is key. While solid and capped boards offer the ‘gold standard’ of composite decking – providing the highest level of structural integrity as well as protection against fading, staining and other damage – it’s important to avoid hollowcore and uncapped boards, which are subject to significant damage. Scalloping and capped boards can offer a cost-effective solution when purchased from trusted brands with a warranty.

Investing in high quality composite decking from trusted brands also offers greater value for money in the long term, with some offering warranties of up to 50 years even with minimal maintenance required.

Not planning ahead

Once the type of composite decking has been agreed, forward-planning is an essential next step – and not doing so can cause issues further down the line that could have easily been avoided. As well as envisioning the overall effect of the deck, it’s important to consider the smaller details, such as the location of built-in lighting and the fixings required for this, ahead of time to avoid any delays.

It’s also recommended to mix and match all composite decking boards on site prior to installation, especially when using products that comprise varying shades for the effect of a natural finish. This ensures the completed deck features an appealing mix of light and dark tones, for the best possible overall effect.

Using incorrect gapping

Some composite decking boards are capped on three sides rather than all four. This allows the boards to ‘breathe’, meaning that they will expand and contract slightly depending on the weather conditions and temperature. While this offers a number of benefits, it’s important for installers to use the correct gapping in order to prevent air circulating freely around the boards. Always carefully check the manufacturer’s instructions before installing the product.

Not joining boards correctly

Avoid joining two boards in a line with a single joint. This must always be done using a double joist, set at the recommended gapping amount. It’s also important to use one fixing on either side of the board, as opposed to bridging the cap with a universal fixing.

However big or small the project may be, avoiding these common decking mistakes can have a huge impact on the overall success of a project.

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Arbor Forest Products please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively, you can go to the CPD Industry Hubs for more articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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Arbor Forest Products

Arbor Forest Products

For more information from Arbor Forest Products, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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