What’s The Harm In Screwing Composite Decking?

When installing composite decking, it is essential that you get it right the first time. Making mistakes during the installation can result in costly repairs or can damage the decking boards.

Investing in high-quality composite deck boards can ensure you enjoy a high-quality finish that is long-lasting and can also add value to your home.

Professional installation will help you achieve a great finish and safe decking for you and your family to enjoy. Alternatively, you will be able to carry out the composite decking installation yourself if you have the skills and experience.

One important decision you will have to make is whether you plan to use screws to secure your decking or go with an alternative method.

This guide will take you through all the information you need to make an informed decision that results in a safe decking area that looks great.

 

 

Screwing Down Composite Decking Boards

There are many reasons that people might choose to use screws on composite deck boards.

Screwing boards in place is relatively quick and straightforward for those with experience.

It can allow professionals to complete the job more quickly and reduce labour costs.

Composite decking screws are readily available and low-priced, making it an attractive proposition for anyone looking to lower the cost of their decking.

Three-inch decking screws should be used to guarantee a secure hold. Composite deck screws have a reverse thread to cut off the mushroom head that can be created when composite lumber is screwed into.

While screws offer a convenient option, there are a number of significant disadvantages that can affect decking. It would be best if these are considered before making your decision.

 

Why Screwing Down Composite Decking Can be a Bad Idea

When thinking of installing composite decks, most people will automatically think screwing the deck boards down will be the best, most secure option. After all, this is the most common method for securing a wood deck.

You might have started to look for the most suitable screw options to blend in with your decking, including composite screws, wood screws, or other special screws that are marketed as being suitable for decking.

In reality, screwing composite decking can be a bad idea. The following reasons demonstrate why you may want to think twice about screwing down composite material.

 

Cracked Boards

Using screws to secure deck boards can cause the boards to crack or warp. This is because composite boards are made of reclaimed wood fibres and recycled plastic.

The different materials in this type of board mean it can behave in a different way to wood in different temperatures.

Expansion and contraction can cause pressure to build up around the screw holes leading to the boards cracking or warping. We recommend fixing the composite deck boards with our hidden T-clips, Locking clips or Start/finish clips. On deck boards, fascia or trims where a special clip can’t be used, we would recommend pre drilling and counter sinking screws, this can be done in a way where the screw has a little bit of movement as the hole is larger than the screw.

 

Invalidate the Warranty

Following the supplier’s instructions is essential when building composite decking.

Different suppliers will create different composite options. The parts supplied and instructions are designed specifically for this composite, and straying from these instructions can lead to safety or performance issues.

Deviating from the supplier instructions can invalidate a warranty should it cause issues with the deck boards.

When you purchase your decking from Ecoscape, you will be supplied with starter and finish clips, hidden T-clips, locking clips, and the screws needed to attach these to joists.

 

Damage Boards

Using screws to fasten composite decks will lead to warping or cracking. The screw holes you make when installing the decking also make it difficult should you change direction and decide against screws midway through a job.

Allowing boards the space to expand and contract naturally is essential. Screwing a deck board directly to a joist won’t stop contraction and expansion, but it will pin it in place.

Preventing room for boards to expand or contract means that the area around the screw will have unnecessary pressure put on it, resulting in damage.

 

It Requires Skilled Professionals

Screwing composite boards is not as straightforward as screwing wood decking.

You might need a professional to ensure they do a good job. This will increase the cost of the decking project.

Buying decking from Ecoscape means you will be provided with the decking components and accessories, so avoiding screws can also save you money.

 

Alternatives to Screws

Using the components and accessories the supplier provides is not negotiable, and failure to do this will result in invalidating the warranty.

This makes things easy for anyone who plans to install their own decking boards as everything needed is provided.

The following provide excellent alternatives to screws when installing composite decking materials.

 

Starter Fasteners

Starter deck fasteners are used to secure the first and last deck boards to the subframe joists, providing safe and secure outer decking that will last a long time.

 

Hidden Deck Fasteners

Hidden fasteners are designed to secure the boards in place, clipping to the individual deck boards and being screwed into the joist beneath the deck.

Hidden fasteners also help to keep a set gap between the boards, helping with drainage and ventilation.

Hidden fasteners have several great benefits, including;

  • The clips provided by Ecoscape are designed for our decking. This guarantees a secure fit.
  • Because the clips are screwed to the joist and clipped to the board, it allows for expansion and contraction without the risk of damaging the deck board like screws.
  • Hidden fasteners also provide a cleaner finish. Thanks to this concealed fastening option, your decking will look better than ever. Screws can affect the overall appearance of a completed deck, and leaving the visible part of your decking untouched can be a vast improvement.
  • Holding your decking in place with clips minimises the risk of damage that screws can pose. Warped or split decks can happen when you screw them into the joists directly and screwing a clip that holds the deck board is a much safer option.
  • It can be hazardous if a nail is not screwed down enough. This can make your decking dangerous for children and pets, cause a trip hazard, or be dangerous for bare feet.
  • If a screw is screwed too far and the finish isn’t flush, it can cause water to pool in the indentation. Pooled water and prolonged exposure to moisture can result in mould, a slippery surface, or the accelerated degradation of your decking.
  • Hidden fasteners also have the benefit of a built-in spacer. This allows you to space your deck boards out an appropriate distance easily. This improves drainage and ventilation, minimising the risk of mould and mildew.

 

FAQs

Can composite decking be laid on wooden joists?

Yes, you can lay composite decking on wooden joists. Because composite is a heavier decking material than timber, joists should be spaced together more closely.

Double joisting the butt ends of composite deck boards is also necessary, ensuring each board benefits from as much support as possible. It also helps with drainage, please refer to our installation guide.

Other materials to consider for joists include aluminium, plastic, and composite. These options offer greater protection against the elements and different levels of strength.

 

How much does it cost for professional composite decking installation?

The average cost of composite decking installation in the UK is between £400 and £600.

Professional installation costs will vary depending on the installer and location, and installation in the UK typically costs around £200 per day.

Composite decking will typically take between 1 and 3 days to install, depending on the decking area size. Assuming the deck is between 10 – 30m2 and isn’t complicated design.

 

Why is it important to leave gaps between deck boards?

Leaving gaps between decking is an integral part of the installation process. Gaps between composite deck boards allow easier drainage and minimise pooling.

As well as leaving gaps between deck boards, the decking should be laid with a slight gradient of around 1.25% to allow the water to run off naturally.

The gradient won’t be noticeable to anyone using the decking, and decking grooves should run with the gradient.

Gaps between decking also improve ventilation, allowing boards to dry more quickly and minimise the risk of mould or mildew growing.

 

How much does composite decking cost?

Ecoscape Clarity composite decking boards cost £41.55 per square meter. The cost to deck a small 15 square metre area in a garden would be £623.25.

Ecoscape Forma composite decking boards cost £66.12 per square meter. The cost of deck materials for a small garden with a 15-square-metre deck would be £991.80.

 

Can anyone install a composite deck?

While composite decking is relatively straightforward to install, only professionals or those with adequate experience should lay composite decks.

Proper installation is essential for the warranty and to guarantee the safety and longevity of your deck area.

The following tools are recommended for carrying out composite decking installation;

  • Pencil
  • Tape Measure
  • String-line
  • Set Square
  • Spirit Level
  • Protective goggles and Personal Protection Equipment
  • Hand Drill
  • 3mm and countersink drill bits
  • Jig Saw
  • Mitre Saw
  • Circular Saw

 

Only commit to a composite decking project if you are confident you have the experience to install composite decking safely and securely. Repairing poorly installed decking can be expensive and time-consuming.

 

Final Thoughts

Using screws on composite decking offers a level of convenience but can cause long-term issues.

When you weigh the pros and cons of using screws on composite decking, there is only one real winner; using hidden fasteners.

Hidden fasteners allow composite deck boards the freedom to expand and contract naturally without being pinned into position.

The irreversible damage caused by using screws on a composite deck is not worth the time you will save in the short term.

The cost and time of repairing or replacing damaged deck boards in the future should be considered when installing your deck.

The fasteners provided by Ecoscape are designed specifically for Ecoscape products, ensuring the perfect fit for a safe and secure deck.

You should always use the parts provided by suppliers and follow directions for the best performance, a long-lasting deck, and to avoid invalidating the warranty.

Gary is the founder and CEO of Ecoscape UK. Gary graduated from Liverpool JM University in 2007 with a 2:1 in Economics. A passion for innovation, design and sustainability, Gary has put to market numerous wpc products/systems, some of which have UK and European registered designs. Outside of work Gary enjoys spending time with his family, the great outdoors and watching Manchester United.

Comments

Comments (28)

  1. Malcolm Hoe
    March 31, 2022

    “Great article on the importance of proper installation when it comes to composite decking. It’s true that using screws can be a quick and cost-effective method, but it’s crucial to use high-quality screws and follow proper installation techniques to avoid any potential damage or costly repairs. As someone who is considering installing composite decking, I appreciate the detailed information provided in this article. I do have a question about where to purchase the best composite decking screws. Any recommendations? Thanks!”

  2. Emily
    April 23, 2022

    This blog post highlights the importance of proper installation when it comes to composite decking. It emphasizes the need for high-quality materials and professional installation to avoid costly mistakes and ensure a safe and long-lasting deck. The information provided is helpful for those considering using screws for their decking, but I’m curious about where to purchase these high-quality materials. Overall, a great read for anyone looking to install composite decking.

  3. Paul Lane
    June 1, 2022

    Great article! It’s important to consider all factors when installing composite decking, including the method of securing the boards. Using screws may be a quick option, but it’s crucial to make sure they are high-quality and properly installed to avoid damage and costly repairs. As someone who has installed composite decking myself, I highly recommend investing in professional installation or taking the time to research and properly install the boards yourself. Thanks for the informative read!

  4. Dominyka
    October 23, 2022

    This article provides valuable information on the importance of proper installation when it comes to composite decking. It highlights the potential harm that can result from mistakes during installation and emphasizes the benefits of investing in high-quality materials. The decision to use screws or an alternative method is also discussed, providing a well-rounded guide for readers. However, I am left wondering about the availability of these composite decking screws and where to purchase them. Overall, a great read for anyone considering composite decking for their home.

  5. Wayne Pascoe
    November 30, 2022

    Great article! I found it very informative and it’s clear that proper installation is crucial for composite decking. I appreciate the advice on using screws for a quick and efficient installation, but I’m curious about alternative methods. Is there a specific brand or type of screws that you recommend for composite decking? I want to make sure I purchase the right materials for a safe and long-lasting deck. Thank you for sharing this helpful information.

  6. Marlow
    December 30, 2022

    This article highlights the importance of proper installation when it comes to composite decking. While using screws may seem like a quick and easy option, it’s crucial to consider the potential harm and damage it can cause if not done correctly. It’s always best to invest in high-quality materials and seek professional installation to ensure a safe and long-lasting decking area. However, if you have the necessary skills and experience, this guide provides valuable information to make an informed decision.

  7. Blair
    January 7, 2023

    “Great article on the importance of proper installation when it comes to composite decking. It’s crucial to invest in high-quality materials and consider professional installation to avoid costly mistakes and ensure a safe and long-lasting deck. I’m curious about the availability of composite decking screws and how to purchase them. Overall, this post provides valuable information for anyone considering composite decking for their home.”

  8. MARK MACDONALD
    January 7, 2023

    This article provides valuable information about the importance of proper installation when it comes to composite decking. It highlights the potential harm that can arise from mistakes and emphasizes the need for high-quality materials and professional installation. The section on using screws for installation is particularly helpful, but I still have questions about where to purchase the decking itself. Overall, this article is a great resource for anyone considering composite decking for their home.

  9. Emma
    January 19, 2023

    “Great article on the importance of proper installation for composite decking. I appreciate the tips and information provided on using screws versus alternative methods. I am considering installing composite decking in my own home and this has helped me make an informed decision. Do you have any recommendations for where to purchase high-quality composite deck boards? Thank you for sharing your expertise on this topic.”

  10. natasha stanbury
    February 8, 2023

    Great article! As someone who is considering installing composite decking, I found this information very helpful. I didn’t realize the potential harm in using screws and now I know to carefully consider my options. I would love to know more about where to purchase high-quality composite deck boards and what to look for in terms of durability and safety. Thank you for sharing this valuable information!

  11. Harrison chambers
    February 11, 2023

    Great article! It’s important to carefully consider the installation method when using composite decking. Using screws may seem like a quick and easy option, but it’s crucial to make sure they are high-quality and installed correctly to avoid costly repairs. Additionally, seeking professional installation can ensure a safe and durable decking area. I’m curious about where to purchase high-quality composite deck boards, as I want to ensure I’m investing in a reliable product.

  12. Shaun Day
    February 21, 2023

    This article provides valuable information on the importance of proper installation and the potential harm that can result from mistakes when screwing down composite decking boards. It is crucial to invest in high-quality materials and consider professional installation to ensure a safe and long-lasting decking area. However, if you have the skills and experience, you can also install the decking yourself. Overall, this article serves as a helpful guide to make an informed decision and avoid any costly repairs in the future.

  13. Alexander Bannerman
    March 29, 2023

    This article provides valuable information on the importance of proper installation and the potential harm of using screws on composite decking. It highlights the benefits of investing in high-quality materials and professional installation, while also offering guidance for those who choose to DIY. However, I am curious about the purchasing process for composite decking and would appreciate some further insights. Overall, a well-written and informative piece.

  14. David Smith
    May 11, 2023

    Great article on the importance of proper installation when it comes to composite decking. I agree that investing in high-quality materials and professional installation is crucial for a long-lasting and visually appealing deck. However, I was wondering if you could provide some tips on where to purchase these composite decking screws? As someone who is considering a DIY installation, I want to make sure I am using the best materials. Thank you for the informative post!

  15. Darren Musgrave
    May 28, 2023

    Great article on the importance of properly installing composite decking. It’s important to consider the long-term effects and potential damage that can occur if the installation is not done correctly. It’s also helpful to know the options for securing the decking, whether it be with screws or alternative methods. However, I have a question about where to purchase high-quality composite deck boards. Can anyone recommend a reliable source for these materials?

  16. Guy
    June 29, 2023

    “Great article highlighting the importance of proper installation for composite decking. The potential harm and costly repairs that can result from mistakes make it crucial to invest in high-quality materials and consider professional installation. The information provided on using screws versus alternative methods is helpful, but I’m curious about where to purchase the decking boards. Overall, a valuable read for anyone considering composite decking for their home.”

    • Nick Benn
      January 6, 2022

      Where would you recommend purchasing high-quality composite decking boards?

  17. Jonathan Hutt
    July 27, 2023

    Great article! I found it very informative and helpful in making a decision about how to secure my composite decking. I have heard that using screws can be a quicker and more cost-effective option, but I am wondering about the best type of screws to use and where I can purchase them. Overall, I agree that proper installation is crucial for a long-lasting and safe decking area. Thank you for sharing this valuable information!

  18. David Antony Jones
    August 26, 2023

    As a seasoned expert in composite building materials, I couldn’t agree more with the points made in this article. It is crucial to get the installation of composite decking right the first time to avoid costly repairs and potential damage to the boards.

    Having worked with composite decking for over 15 years, I have seen firsthand the importance of using high-quality materials and professional installation. This not only ensures a beautiful and long-lasting finish, but also adds value to your home.

    When it comes to securing composite decking boards, using screws may seem like a quick and easy solution. However, as the article mentions, there are alternative methods that can result in a safer and more visually appealing decking area.

    One thing to consider is the potential for screws to cause splitting or cracking in the boards, especially if they are not installed correctly. This can not only compromise the structural integrity of the decking, but also create an unsightly and potentially hazardous surface for you and your family to enjoy.

    In my experience, using hidden fasteners or clips can provide a more seamless and secure installation, without the risk of damaging the boards. While it may require a bit more time and effort, the end result will be well worth it.

    In conclusion, I highly recommend investing in high-quality composite deck boards and professional installation for the best outcome. And when it comes to securing the boards, consider all options and choose the one that will result in a safe and visually appealing decking area for years to come.

    • NadiaLedger
      January 21, 2023

      Thank you for sharing your insights on this topic. I completely agree with your points about the importance of using quality materials and professional installation for composite decking. As you mentioned, using screws may seem like a quick fix, but it can lead to potential damage and compromises the overall look and safety of the decking. I have also found that hidden fasteners or clips provide a more secure and visually appealing option for securing composite boards. Thank you for highlighting the importance of considering all options for a successful and long-lasting decking installation.

  19. Nick Craggs
    September 18, 2023

    This article provides valuable information on the importance of proper installation and the potential harm that can come from making mistakes when screwing down composite decking boards. It’s crucial to invest in high-quality materials and consider professional installation to ensure a safe and long-lasting deck. However, I’m curious about the availability and cost of these composite decking screws. Do you have any recommendations or tips for purchasing them?

  20. FWPLloyd
    October 12, 2023

    “Great article! It’s important to consider all aspects of composite decking installation, including the method of securing the boards. While screws may seem like a convenient option, it’s crucial to use high-quality ones and ensure proper installation to avoid costly repairs. I appreciate the mention of professional installation for a safe and high-quality finish. I do have a question about where to purchase the decking boards, as I would like to ensure I’m getting the best quality. Thank you for the informative read!”

  21. Jason Ryan
    October 13, 2023

    Great article! It’s important to carefully consider the installation method for composite decking to avoid costly mistakes or damage. I agree that using screws can be a quick and efficient option for professionals, but as a homeowner, I would prefer a more secure and long-lasting alternative. Perhaps exploring other methods, such as hidden fasteners, could be beneficial. Overall, this article provided valuable information for anyone considering composite decking installation. I’m now curious about where to purchase high-quality composite deck boards.

    • Nick Benn
      April 14, 2023

      Why do you doubt the accuracy of the information provided in the article? Have you had a negative experience with using screws for composite decking installation? I would appreciate more details on your concerns. Additionally, do you have any recommendations for where to purchase high-quality composite deck boards? Thank you.

  22. Bill
    February 18, 2024

    As a seasoned expert in composite building materials, I couldn’t agree more with the importance of getting the installation of composite decking right the first time. The potential for costly repairs and damage to the boards is not something to be taken lightly.

    I have seen firsthand the consequences of using the wrong installation methods, and it’s not pretty. That’s why I always stress the importance of investing in high-quality composite deck boards and seeking professional installation. Not only does it ensure a high-quality finish, but it also adds value to your home and provides a safe decking area for your family to enjoy.

    While screws may seem like a quick and easy option for securing composite deck boards, it’s crucial to consider the long-term effects. As the article mentions, using screws can result in visible screw heads, which can be unsightly and potentially cause tripping hazards. Additionally, screws can loosen over time, causing the boards to shift and potentially creating gaps that compromise the integrity of the deck.

    I highly recommend exploring alternative methods for securing composite deck boards, such as hidden fasteners or clips. These not only provide a cleaner and more polished finish but also help to reduce the risk of damage and ensure the longevity of your deck.

    In conclusion, while it may be tempting to save time and money by using screws for composite decking installation, it’s essential to weigh the potential consequences carefully. With the right materials and installation methods, you can achieve a safe and visually appealing deck that will last for years to come.

  23. James
    March 31, 2024

    Great article! It’s important to get the installation of composite decking right to avoid costly repairs and damage. I agree that investing in high-quality boards is key for a long-lasting and valuable addition to your home. I appreciate the information on using screws for installation, but I’m curious about alternative methods. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations on where to purchase high-quality composite decking? Thank you for sharing this informative guide.

  24. J Maxwell
    April 17, 2024

    Great article! I never realized the importance of proper installation when it comes to composite decking. It’s definitely worth investing in high-quality boards and considering professional installation to ensure a safe and long-lasting deck. I’m curious about the cost difference between using screws and alternative methods. It would be helpful to know where to purchase the best composite decking screws as well. Thank you for sharing this valuable information.

    • NadiaLedger
      December 30, 2022

      Thank you for your comment! As a composite building supplies expert, I couldn’t agree more with your points. Proper installation is crucial for the longevity and safety of a composite decking project. While it may seem like a higher upfront cost, investing in high-quality boards and professional installation will save you money in the long run by avoiding potential issues and repairs.

      In terms of the cost difference between using screws and alternative methods, it really depends on the specific project and the type of composite decking being used. However, in general, using alternative methods such as hidden fasteners may have a slightly higher cost but can provide a more seamless and aesthetically pleasing finish.

      When it comes to purchasing the best composite decking screws, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable supplier. Look for screws that are specifically designed for composite decking and have features such as corrosion resistance and self-drilling capabilities. It’s also a good idea to consult with a professional for their recommendations based on your specific project needs.

      Thank you for reading and for your interest in learning more about composite decking installation. I hope this information was helpful!

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