Austin Fence and Deck

Use Composite Wood Decking and Other Low-maintenance Decking Materials to Build a Deck – Before Beginning

Composite material will add durability and sophistication to your deck. However, it’s important to understand how to handle your deck project effectively. This means knowing how much decking you need, getting rid of the old wood decking, and installing the deck railings appropriately.

You’ll learn how to install composite decking in this article. Let’s get started!

composite pool side deck

Tools and Materials Required

You will need these materials and tools:

  • Circular saw and blades
  • Jigsaw
  • Compound miter saw
  • Impact driver
  • Drill with bits and driver
  • 4×4″ pressure-treated lumber
  • 2×8″ pressure-treated lumber
  • Vinyl or composite balusters
  • Vinyl or composite crush blocks and rails
  • Composite decking

Use Composite Wood Decking and Other Low-maintenance Decking Materials to Build a Deck – Before Beginning

You will need to have a solid frame for the decking. In most cases, homeowners use pressure-treated lumber for the deck frame, and the picture frame style is an excellent choice. Be aware of your preferred deck’s square footage before starting on your new deck.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here are the steps you’ll take to build a new deck:

Railing Posts (Mounting)

If you want a composite deck, you’ll be mounting the posts inside the frame’s joists. Here are the instructions:

1. Determine the Number of Posts Required

You need to know how many posts you’ll require and the spacing needed. Overall, the posts should be near the home at the top of the stairs and at the outer corner.

Measure the space between two of the corner posts, dividing that by the distance you want between your posts. Round up to the next whole number and subtract one.

Here’s an example:

The distance between the two posts is 15. You’d divide that by 5 feet, which is how much space you want between them. You get three. Subtract that from one, and you’ll need two posts in between. Make sure they’re evenly spaced, but reposition them if they line up over the joist.

Most building codes have a maximum spacing of just 6 feet.

2. Cut Your Posts

Cut your posts to the length based on local building codes and your plan. The bottom ends should be flush with the edges of the end and rim joists.

3. Reinforce with Bracing

Most decks use deck anchors with the joists to offer strength. If you do that, use composite decking screws along the end joists, attaching extra bracing between the end joists and floor joists. Cut the braces from the same lumber you used in the joists (2×8″).

wooden deck brackets

4. Install Posts Along Your End Joist

Start installing the posts along your end joist. Screw one into place, ensuring that it’s plumb and will extend to the bottom of your joist.

5. Mark Center Point of Joists

Mark your joist in the center, roughly 2 inches from the bottom and top.

6. Drill Bolt Holes

At those marks, drill your two bolt holes through the post and end joist.

7. Insert Carriage Bolts and Anchors

Insert your carriage bolt in that top hole, placing your anchor and using a nut/washer before tightening it down.

8. Attach Anchors

Use screws to attach your anchor to the bracing.

9. Insert Second Carriage Bolt

Put a second bolt through that bottom hole. Every post will have two carriage bolts, but they only require one anchor.

10. Attach Back Anchors

Then, you’ll attach the anchor to the back of your bracing to give it strength.

11. Add More Posts, Braces, and Anchors

Continue installing your posts. In the corners, you’ll need bracing around that post and anchors to secure it. Make sure you’re cutting the bracing from that same material used for the joists.

12. Brace Your Rim Joist

Along your rim joist, add bracing behind the posts using corner brackets and screws. Next, secure them with carriage bolts.

Installing the Decking

Once all the posts have been secured, you’ll install the decking. It’s wise to use grooved composite boards and hidden fasteners for a cleaner look. If the deck has parting boards in the middle, you’ll install the decking on either side of the supportive bracing you installed. Then, you’ll trim it and install your parting boards.

1. Secure Start and Stop Strips

Start near the deck side where the house is and secure your start/stop clips, ensuring it’s flush with your rim joist. They should be spaced roughly 16 inches apart.

stop strips

2. Lay That First Board

Where that first board meets the frame’s joists, you’ll push the toothed edge of the clip prongs into the side groove.

Overall, the first board is considered the easiest to lay, but it’s still important to take your time.

3. Insert Your Clip Prongs

With every joist, you’ll need a clip prong. Insert it completely into the groove of the decking board, securing it with screws.

4. Continue with the Installation Process

As you did with the first decking board, you’ll line up the grooves with the next board and prongs, pushing them into place tightly. Overhand your boards by a few inches near the end joists because you’ll trim those later.

Continue installing decking boards. Use your jigsaw to cut and work around posts as necessary. Consider making the cutouts a little wider to fit the boards into place because you can cover those gaps with post skirts later.

5. Lay That Last Board

The last board might not be as wide. You can cut along the full length of the deck board to fit it in. Likewise, you’ll require a 1.25-inch overhang for the skirting. Set your deck board into place, attaching it with composite decking screws. Then, you can cover that cut edge using a fascia finish.

6. Trim Your Boards

Snap the chalk line along your end joist, cutting along that line with your circular saw to trim your deck boards to the right length. Leave about 1.25 inches of overhang if you plan to install skirting.

7. Cut Your Decking

In the center of the deck, you’ll cut it to fit your parting decking boards.

8. Secure Those Boards

Secure your parting decking plank into place with screws. You’ll need to set a proper drainage gap here!

Install the Railings

wooden bench inside deck

Once the decking installation is finished, it’s time to install/assemble your railings. Here are the steps to take:

1. Slide in the Post Sleeves

Slide the post sleeves on and cut them to the right height.

2. Secure the Collars

Glue the post-sleeve collars into place with some PVC cement.

3. Mark/Measure Bottom Rail

Measure the full distance between your posts, marking both ends of all bottom rails 1/4-inch shorter. Make sure the baluster hole spacing is even.

4. Mark/Measure Top Rail

Measure and then mark the top rail like you did for the bottom rail in step three.

5. Cut Those Rails

Cut your rails to the proper length.

6. Secure the Crush Block

Use some PVC cement to secure your crush block, making sure it’s centered under each bottom rail. The glue must cure before you continue.

7. Trace Your Bracket Positions

Slide your brackets and flanges onto that bottom rail. Hold it in place, tracing the brackets before removing your rail.

8. Drill Screw Holes

Reposition your flanges and brackets onto the post, marking the holes. Drill some pilot holes, securing those flanges with screws. Then, continue following that process for the other posts.

9. Attach Your Brackets

Slide your brackets back onto your rails, locking them into place.

10. Attach Your End Balusters

Use the end balusters as a guide to set your top rail into place. Mark that bracket position, installing the flanges in the same manner as you did for the bottom rails.

11. Install Your Balusters

Insert your balusters, locking the top rail into place. You may attach your post caps using PVC adhesive.

12. Install the Rest of the Railing

Install the other railings as you did for this one.

Hire a Professional to Install Composite Decking

deck builder installing deck

While composite decking installation can be easy for some people to do, it’s often a hassle. Instead, it might be wise to have a professional deal with it all.

Austin Fence & Deck Builders can help you with your composite decking project. Please call (512) 799-7574 to request your free estimate now!

FAQs About Installing Composite Decking