Home Owner Series: Tips for Deck Construction
As with any project, preparation is key when you’re creating a quality composite deck for your family to enjoy for years to come. Whether you’re preparing to take on your own DIY outdoor project, or collaborate with a professional builder - it’s important to understand the best practices for installing Fiberon Decking material. That’s why we encourage customers, as well as contracted builders, to educate themselves on our materials’ best installation practices. In this post we’ll highlight important recommendations and requirements that should not be overlooked to ensure the best, finished look of your new deck.
Storage and Preparation Tips
In order to protect your investment from the start, it’s important to store your composite boards in a level area. Keep products off the ground and covered on a flat, dry surface. Dark colors will absorb more heat than lighter colors and as such, will experience greater ranges in expansion/contraction.
The following preparation and installation procedures will result in less visible gapping:
1. Keep boards out of direct sun during storage and cutting processes, and through to installation, if possible. Never cut and install boards in direct sun assuming them to be at ambient temperature.
2. Longer boards have greater thermal expansion and contraction. Use short boards where possible for less visible gapping.
3. There is less thermal expansion and contraction along the width of the board as opposed to the length. Using splitter/divider boards between each continuous run of boards will result in less gapping.
4. Thermal expansion and contraction of the material can allow the boards to shift. Surface-fastening using heavy gauge (#9 or #10) quality composite deck screws will help keep the material in place.
Planning the Layout of Your Deck Boards
Careful planning of the finished deck layout will result in better looking finished projects. Fiberon composite deck boards are made to mimic the varied colors and grains of wood. Before you start installing your deck, it’s helpful to lay out the aesthetic pattern you want considering the wood tone variations and various grain patterns. For example, you may want to line up boards in the same wood grain direction for a uniform look. An alternating direction style can add visual interest to your project. Also consider using two colors of deck boards with the lighter colored boards in the field of the deck and the darker colored boards as design accents around the perimeter of the deck.
Deck Fastener Options
Fiberon decking materials are designed to be installed with either face screws or hidden fasteners. Phantom hidden fasteners are specifically designed for Fiberon side-grooved boards and provide a smooth, fastener-free surface.
Face fastening can be accomplished with hidden or regular surface fastening screws. Cortex hidden face fasteners are installed on the surface and have deck plugs that cover the screw heads for a virtually fastener-free look. Stainless steel composite deck screws can be used for surface fastening; however, pre-drilling is recommended to prevent ends from splitting and will result in a better looking finished project. Follow installation instructions carefully for a flush finish with the deck surface. For decks using metal joisting, specialized surface fasteners are required that install at a 90-degree angle only.
Best Results When Adding Railing
When using surface fasteners to secure railing to a composite deck, joist location may affect the ease, price and method of the installation of the railing system. Leaving the required 1.5” spacing for surface fastening at the end of the board and 1” from the side of the board, requires two joists for every end-to-end seam. Board seams with double joisting can affect post placement for your railing system.
Thoroughly reading all installation instructions first will make for more successful projects. Failure to do so may result in a more difficult installation and may void the warranty.
If you found this post helpful, you can find similar instructions and research on our site, FiberonDecking.com . We have step-by-step instructions on how to install everything from deck railing to lighting. If you’re a visual learner, we’ve got videos too.