How to Avoid Common Composite Decking Mistakes


Your home’s deck is the perfect place to spend some quiet time outside, unwinding from the stresses of the day. At the same time, a well-designed, well- maintained and great looking outdoor deck can also add significant value to your home. Before you choose to do-it-yourself or work with a professional, check out this short list of composite deck building mistakes to avoid when considering adding this all-important addition to your home.

1.  Don’t start building without a well thought out design plan AND a building permit.

The first mistake that many homeowners make is not taking enough time to plan their new deck. Homeowners should not only consider the size, shape and location of the deck, but also how it will look from inside and outside their homes. Once the deck is built, it will be a semi-permanent fixture on the property for many years to come. Take some time to visualize what the outdoor deck will look like from different spots on your property.

Some basic questions to consider include:

·       How (and when) will the deck primarily be used?

·       How much maintenance will it require?

·       Does the proposed deck design seem to ‘fit’ with the rest of the landscape?

·       Does the scale of the new deck match with the size of the home?

·       How often does sunlight reach the deck throughout the day?

·       Does the height of the deck require guardrails for safety?

Homeowners who do not obtain the proper building permits before building their new deck run the risk of not only building an unsafe platform, but may also run into unnecessary hassles if/when they decide to sell their home.

Although the specific building codes for outdoor structures may vary from town to town, as a rule of thumb, homeowners should assume that every new decking project will require a building permit. The 2015 International Residential Code (IRC) includes a section specifically covering decks. The cost and effort of obtaining the proper building permit is small when compared to the risk of injury or repair/removal of the structure after the fact.

Another factor to consider in your planning is the use of concrete footing materials. Extreme freeze/thaw conditions can wreak havoc on concrete footers if they are not placed below the frost line which can be 48” or more in Northern New England. Digging your footings deeper can help you avoid seeing your deck investment go down like the Titanic.

2. When it comes down to decking products, don’t skimp on quality.

Centuries after the disaster took place, forensic investigative research determined that one of the contributing factors that led to the sinking of the Titanic could be traced back to the use of low-quality rivets used to hold the steel plates of her hull together. For many reasons, including cost, the decision to use wrought-iron rivets instead of machine-formed steel rivets, greatly reduced the vessels shock- resistance strength. Although your new deck may never hit any icebergs, it will certainly be exposed to some pretty harsh conditions of its own.

Here in northern New England, for example, exterior building products must be able to withstand sub-freezing temperature, heavy snow, wind-driven moisture, and periods of high heat and humidity. That’s one reason why today, most professional deck builders agree that building a deck with anything other than a high quality composite decking material is short-sighted.

Yet, as with the Titanic’s sub-par rivet example proved, not all decking composite materials are created equal either. While there are lower-priced discount decking options out there, you don’t want to take a chance that your outdoor deck investment will sink under the weight of heavy snow and inferior materials.

3. Don’t forget about local lumber yards.

Walk through any “big box” home improvement center today and you will likely see virtually the same well-known brands available in a limited number of colors, styles and textures. They might appear to be a good deal at first glance, but often the lower quality lines are the only ones actually in stock, with the higher end products and most popular colors available by special order only – at a hefty price tag.

Instead, consider shopping at a local lumber yard, where building professionals can guide you toward the top performing products, help with the design of your deck, and show you the colors you want, at the price you can afford.

4. Don’t settle for boring.

DuraLife products are crafted from reclaimed hardwood fiber and rugged, UV-stabilized polypropylene.  Polypropylene composite decking boards are stronger, stiffer and harder than PVC and PE products sold by other decking manufacturers. This allows DuraLife deck boards to span larger distances and withstand greater temperature variations with less expansion, contraction and wear than competitive products.

DuraLIfe Hardwoods™ decking features a variegated, non-repeating wood grain patterns that looks just like finished hardwood. You can select the deck color you like, pick the deck profile at the performance level you need, and choose the railing system you love to complete your deck; more composite decking choices - all without ever having to step inside another big box store. That’s because DuraLife is sold through a network of professional lumber retailers. Many of these lumber retailers are locally owned, customer-focused businesses where builders and contractors go to purchase their materials.

With DuraLife, homeowners can build the deck of their dreams to match any style or budget.

This article is made possible by DuraLife. DuraLife’s unique polypropylene and hardwood composite decking materials simply outperform all other wood and composite decking products. More solid and safe under foot, DuraLife decking is backed by a 25-year warranty. It is stain and fade resistant, mold and mildew resistant, and is available in the colors and deck railing options you want. Get Samples, try our Composite Deck & Railing Visualizer, or contact DuraLife now to learn more.