Installing Composite Deck Over Wood

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Is your old timber deck in need of replacement? Maybe you’ve stepped on one too many splinters, or the timber has lost its colour due to overexposure to the elements. Maybe you’re sick of replacing rotten planks or no longer have the time to repair and treat it.

Whatever your reasons might be for replacing your deck, you may want to consider resurfacing it than replacing it. In other words, you might be able to install new boards over the top of an old frame, thereby giving it a brand-new look without all of the brand-new costs.

In this article, we look at three of the most common scenarios where you might be able to save your deck through a few quick tricks, or resurfacing it with composite decking, rather than replacing it with a whole new timber deck.

Uneven or unstable joists

Timber is notoriously susceptible to changes in the natural environment, particularly if the wood hasn’t been treated or maintained properly.

When wood is exposed to changes in temperature and moisture levels over time it can experience swelling, shrinking, warping and shifting. This can result in an uneven platform, a problem that is often exacerbated when low-quality fasteners (such as screws and nails) corrode due to the same exposure, creating separation between individual planks.

A quick solution is to install shims, which are basically small pieces of wood wedged into a space in order to chock it up and restabilise the overall surface. To further support these joists, it’s probably a wise idea to get rid of any rusty or corroded fasteners and put in new, durable screws that are more likely to stand the test of time.

Rotted joists

Even if you treat your deck with the utmost care, it is likely to experience a scuff or scratch at some point in its life. Further to this, it would have been secured to the existing frame with nails or screws, meaning it has been penetrated by a fastener at some stage as well.

Every one of these situations has the potential to let moisture into the wood and, over time, this moisture will inexorably compromise the integrity of the wood and lead to decay.

If this is the case for your deck, you’ll need to replace the affected planks.

Once you have removed each one, check the joists for any soft spots. This is where water has soaked through the planks and started to soften the joists.

If you find any joists suffering from this condition, it’s important that you put down a strip of joist tape before replacing the plank. This will future proof it against any other moisture damage should the new planks experience waterlog like the ones they replaced.

An alternative option that almost guarantees 100% water resistance (and therefore minimises the likelihood of ever having to replace water damaged timber planks ever again) is to rip up the old timber platform and resurface it with a composite deck equipped with a hidden fastening system.

A hidden fastening system is one where the planks aren’t secured to the frame with screws or nails. Rather, they are clipped onto framing joists from the side thereby hiding any exposed screw or nailheads, but more importantly creating a uniform, water-repellent surface that will no longer soak up water.

Get yourself a composite deck with a hidden fastening system and say goodbye to ever having to worry about water damage ever again.

Putting in a spa or hot tub

Many people are happy to enjoy the outdoor surroundings of their home from the comfort of their deck, but there are those who want to further enhance the experience by enjoying it from a hot tub or spa.

This is one of the most common scenarios in which a homeowner might need to upgrade their existing deck.

Modern hot tubs are created from lighter materials than their predecessors. Nonetheless, it’s usually recommended that additional structures are put into place to further support the existing frame to prevent it from fracturing and, in the worst case, collapsing because it is unable to satisfactorily support the weight.

The lesson here: put in extra beams and joists in order to bolster those that are already there.

Furthermore, be aware that putting in a hot tub is likely to increase exposure to moisture to the surrounding area, particularly those immediately below and around the tub itself.

As we mentioned earlier, this water exposure might compromise the integrity of the planks. It could be come trapped inside individual boards and therefore require replacements in the future, or it might lead to wet mildewy look of slime.

One way to combat this, again, is to install composite decking. Not only does it have water repellent properties, minimising the likelihood of water absorption, but also a capped surface that resists stains and fading of all varieties (including mildew).

Last say…

If your deck is in need of repair or replacement, don’t fret: you don’t need to get rid of the entire thing.

Your best bet is to rip up the old platform. This will expose the underlying frame over the top of which you are best to install composite decking.

Hidden fastening systems, a common feature of composite decks, will not only create a uniform, streamlined appearance for your new platform, it’s also less likely to experience water damage in the future. This means you’ll never need to worry about replacing it in the future should it be exposed to the elements again.

In addition to this, composite decks are less likely to stain or fade, and the cherry on top is that they’re available in a wide range of colours and designs, meaning there’ll be a type out there that is suitable for your home.

Our final word of advice: don’t replace your deck, just resurface it, and enjoy the added benefits of fitting composite boards to your old wooden framework.

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