Composite decking can be a great, durable material to use for your back deck.
With its scientifically developed chemical makeup, it can last a lot longer than traditional decking. However, when you are installing it, there are many things you should consider that are different from wood.
From the fasteners you use to its maintenance schedule, composite decking has some important differences from traditional wood decking. Just like wood decking, though, you will need to leave gaps between the planks.
Determining the Gap Between Composite Deck Boards: Basic Idea
In order to determine the gap you will need between composite decking, you need to consider certain factors. These include:
- Check With Local Building Codes
- Check the Color
- Determine Your Ventilation Needs
- Consider Safety
Why Leave a Gap Between Composite Deck Boards?
Many people wonder why a gap should be left between their deck boards once it is installed.
It may seem, at first, that you shouldn’t have gaps in your deck. However, they serve an important purpose when it comes to the deck’s longevity.
If your planks had no gap, they would not be able to expand and contract with the varying temperatures. This is very important since your deck will be exposed to the weather elements all year long.
While composite decking won’t expand as much as wood decking will, it still needs gaps. Knowing what size these should be can allow you to give your deck the best chance at longevity.
Generally, the gaps in your decking should be between ⅛” and ¼”. The size you choose will be determined by the various factors with your deck.
Check Your Building Codes
The first thing you should do before planning a deck is check with your local zoning laws and building codes.
Every municipality has its own set of rules that you will need to follow when it comes to construction. Knowing what these are can help you avoid costly fees and violations.
In your local building codes, there might be a stipulation on how big your gaps need to be. If you have one of these, you should follow that.
There may also be other requirements for construction regarding your deck.
Think About Color
You should also consider the color of your composite decking when figuring out your gap size.
Darker colors will absorb more energy from the sun and will expand more in the sun. If you have a darker composite decking color, you should include bigger gaps.
Determine the Ventilation Needs
The amount of ventilation and drainage you need will also determine your gap size.
If you live in a very moist area, you should include larger gaps. This will allow for ventilation and drainage when the weather turns poor.
Larger gaps will let more water through and also allow for better drying. This way, the soil under your deck won’t get mildewy or soft, which can be a structural issue.
Think About Safety
You should also be thinking about safety when it comes to the gaps in your deck.
This is one of the reasons gaps might be included in your area’s building codes.
Generally, as long as you keep the gaps between ¼” and ⅛”, they should be small enough to be safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do you fill space between deck boards?
While it might be tempting to fill in the gaps, you should always leave them.
As long as you have kept them up to regulation, they won’t interfere with walking. Plus, filling in the gaps will not be an attractive option.
- Can you caulk composite decking?
You can caulk your composite decking, but it is not recommended.
If your gaps are too big, you might be tempted to caulk them. However, this will not only be unattractive, it will also not be effective.
- How do I stop my deck from leaking?
You can buy rubber flanges that go under your deck’s gaps if leaking is an issue.
If, for example, you don’t need ventilation because your deck is on the second floor, this could work. They are easy to install and won’t interfere with the construction.
Your deck should be able to last for many years. If you ensure that you have the right gap space, you are much more likely to achieve this.
By considering the above factors, you can include the right size gaps and enjoy your deck for a long time.