After years in the industry, we've seen our fair share of composite decking installed using countless methods.
But can you screw composite decking? The short answer is yes, but it requires careful consideration.
Composite decking, a fusion of wood fibres and plastics, demands specific installation techniques. This article will guide you through the appropriate screw types, their quantities, and the installation process.
Additionally, we'll explore why screwing might not always be the best approach and present alternative methods, ensuring your decking project is both durable and visually appealing.What this article covers:
- Can You Screw Composite Decking?
- How to Install Composite Decking with Screws
- Why You Shouldn't Direct Screw Into Composite Decking
Can You Screw Composite Decking?
From our experience, the answer is yes, but with a few caveats. While you can use screws on composite decking, it's not as straightforward as with traditional wood decking.
Composite decking, made from a blend of wood fibres and plastic, behaves differently than pure wood. When it comes to screwing down composite decking, the method and type of screws you use are crucial to avoid damaging the boards and ensuring a long-lasting, safe deck.
You should also only ever use hidden fixings when installing composite decking with screws and never screw directly into the decking board.
What Screws Should You Use For Composite Decking?
After putting it to the test, we recommend only ever using composite decking screws. These are specifically designed for composite materials, featuring smaller heads and threads that are ideal for denser, harder composite decking.
Regular wood screws won't provide the same level of grip, can disrupt the deck's appearance, and can negatively impact your deck's lifespan through cracking or warping.
How Many Screws Should You Get?
The number of screws needed depends on various factors, including the size of your deck and the spacing of the joists.
As a rule of thumb, for standard composite decks with 140mm wide boards and 300mm joist centres, you'll need about 100 hidden fasteners for every 4 square meters. In our experience, it's always better to have a few extra on hand, just in case.
What Hidden Fixings Should You Use?
Hidden fasteners are a sleek and efficient way of attaching composite decking. They are installed beneath the decking boards, making them invisible from the surface and offering a clean, seamless finish.
Beyond aesthetics, these fasteners allow for the natural expansion and contraction of composite boards, which is crucial for maintaining the deck's integrity over time.
This flexibility helps prevent the common issues of warping and cracking associated with fixed screw points, ensuring a longer lifespan for your deck.
Clip systems, such as T-Clips, tailored specifically for certain types of composite decking, provide a straightforward installation method. These systems are designed for ease of use, making installation time quick and efficient.
They also facilitate easy maintenance and board replacement, as the clips can be easily unfastened. By eliminating visible screws, clip systems enhance the overall aesthetic of the deck, creating a smooth and uninterrupted surface that appeals to modern design sensibilities.
How to Install Composite Decking with Screws
Tools You'll Need
Before you start, gather these essential tools:
- Power drill
- Composite decking boards
- Composite decking screws
- Tape measure
- Spirit level
- Saw (circular or hand saw)
- Safety equipment (gloves, goggles)
Step 1: Prepare The Area
Start by clearing away any debris, rocks, or vegetation that could interfere with the installation. Once the area is clear, it's essential to level the ground. An uneven surface can lead to a deck that's unstable and unsafe.
Use a spirit level to check the evenness of the area, and adjust the ground level by adding or removing soil as needed. A well-prepared site is the foundation for a successful decking project using hidden fixings.
Step 2: Lay Out The Boards
With the area prepared, lay out your composite decking boards on the deck frame. This step is crucial for visualising your deck's final appearance. Arrange the boards in your chosen pattern, ensuring they are evenly spaced to accommodate the hidden fixings.
This layout phase is not just about aesthetics; it's also about functionality, ensuring that the hidden fasteners will effectively secure the boards.
Step 3: Attach Hidden Fasteners
Instead of pre-drilling holes for screws, the next step involves attaching hidden fasteners to the joists. These fasteners are designed to securely hold the composite boards in place without being visible.
Align the fasteners with the joists and attach them according to the manufacturer's instructions. This method not only maintains the integrity of the decking boards but also ensures a clean, screw-free surface.
Step 4: Secure The Boards
Now, place the composite boards onto the hidden fasteners. Each board should snap or slide into place, securely held by the fasteners.
Start from one end of the deck and work your way across, ensuring each board is properly aligned and locked into the fasteners. This step requires careful attention to ensure that the boards are evenly spaced and securely attached.
Step 5: Check For Alignment
After all the boards are in place, it's important to check their alignment. Use a spirit level to ensure that each board is even and flush with its neighbours.
If any boards are misaligned, gently adjust them to ensure a uniform surface. Proper alignment is key to the deck's appearance and safety, ensuring a smooth, even surface.
Step 6: Final Inspection And Adjustments
The final step is a thorough inspection and any necessary adjustments. Walk over the deck to ensure every board is securely fastened and there are no uneven surfaces. Make any adjustments to the hidden fasteners if needed. This meticulous process is crucial for a stable and aesthetically pleasing deck.
Once completed, your composite deck, with its hidden fixings, will be ready for enjoyment, boasting a clean, screw-free appearance.
Why You Shouldn't Direct Screw Into Composite Decking
While screwing composite decking is a viable option, there are reasons to consider alternatives:
Risk of Cracking
One of the primary concerns with screwing composite decking is the risk of cracking or warping the boards. Composite materials, being a blend of wood fibres and plastic components, react differently to screws compared to traditional wood.
When screws are driven directly into composite boards, they can create stress points. These stress points, especially in fluctuating temperatures, can lead to the material cracking or warping over time.
This not only affects the deck's appearance but can also compromise its structural integrity, leading to potential safety issues.
Another significant consideration is the warranty provided by the decking manufacturer. Many composite decking warranties are contingent on the decking being installed according to the manufacturer's guidelines. In some cases, these guidelines may specify certain installation methods.
Failure to adhere to these guidelines can result in the warranty being voided. This means that any damage or issues that arise with the decking may not be covered, leaving you responsible for any repair or replacement costs.
Lastly, the use of screws can affect the overall aesthetic of your composite decking. Direct fixing screws, even when carefully installed, are visible on the surface of the decking.
Composite decking is one of the best outdoor flooring options, and this can disrupt the smooth, seamless look that many homeowners desire for their outdoor spaces, depending on the composite decking types you've chosen.
Hidden fasteners, on the other hand, offer a solution that keeps the decking surface unblemished. These fasteners are designed to securely attach the decking boards from beneath or at the sides, making them invisible from the top.
This results in a cleaner, more consistent, and visually appealing finish, enhancing the overall look of your outdoor area.
While you can screw into composite decking, it requires careful consideration of the type of screws and installation methods. You should always use hidden fixings such as clip systems for your decking.
Whatever route you choose, make sure it aligns with the manufacturer's guidelines to ensure the longevity and safety of your deck.
And if you're looking for high-quality composite decking boards with easy installation options, Ovaeda has you covered.
If you want to learn more, why not check out these articles below:
- Can You Put Composite Decking on Wooden Joists
- Can You Put Composite Decking Over Wood Decking
- Does Composite Decking Fade?
- Does Composite Decking Expand?
- Is Composite Decking Cheaper Than Paving?
- Does Composite Decking Scratch?
- Does Composite Decking Warp?
- Outdoor Flooring Ideas Over Concrete
- Composite Decking Ideas UK
- Composite Decking Ideas for Small Gardens
- Outdoor Flooring Ideas Over Dirt
- Composite Decking Ideas with Steps
- Garden Decking Colour Ideas
- Composite Deck Railing Ideas
- Composite Decking vs Wood