Top 3 Time Saving Tips for Composite Deck Builders

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Here in New England, the outdoor building season can be painfully short. Sometimes, an unusually wet spring can throw off the entire project schedule for the year. Fewer workable days often result in fewer completed projects – and less revenue for contractors.

That’s why it’s so important for deck builders to develop a workflow that operates at top efficiency at all times. Shaving a few minutes off the time it takes to complete each step in the planning, design, layout and construction of a new composite deck can make the difference between wrapping up a project on Friday afternoon or mid-morning Monday.

Suddenly, either using or losing those few minutes has now impacted the whole weeks’ schedule. In a seasonal business, such as deck construction – no matter the size, shape or material used – time is money.

Here are 3 ways you can save on both:

Stick with standard-length boards. Although every customer may say that they want their deck to be a customized outdoor living space, that doesn’t mean that every element needs to be unique. Whenever possible, stick to designing a new deck that incorporates standard board sizes of 8’, 12’ or 16’. Once construction begins, the fewer on-site measurements and cuts your crew needs to make, the faster the project will come together.

At the end of the day, the difference between the usable area of a “custom” odd-shaped deck (13’x31’) vs. a standard sized deck (12’x32’) will be negligible. The only real increase will be in the amount of time it will take to complete the project – and the amount of wasted material it will create.

Instead of building a new composite deck with unusual dimensions, present customers with other less time-consuming custom design features such as unique railings, hardware, lighting and multi-level options instead. The decking surface itself should be viewed as the foundation of the project. Like the blank canvas of a painting, it’s the unique characteristics of what’s created on top of it that will ultimately have the greatest impact.

If a customer is adamant (or site-specific conditions or building codes dictate) that a deck must be built to certain dimensions, considering ordering decking materials that arrive on-site pre-cut by the manufacturer. DuraLife offers this service to contractors, at no additional cost, on orders of 200 composite decking boards or more.

Use cable-ready railing systems. Another way that decking installers can save time is by using composite railing materials that also come pre-drilled from the manufacturer. Instead of wasting time drilling hundreds of holes in post sleeves and intermediate balusters for popular cable railing systems, contractors can simply line up the pre-drilled (3” on-center) top and bottom rail components and immediately begin threading the cabling through the holes. Not only will using factory pre-drilled post sleeves and balusters save contractors time and frustration, the result will be more uniform as well.

Considering that a standard 16-post railing application with 9 cables per section will require more than 500 precise drill points – that can mean a huge reduction in the amount of time, money and potential for mistakes to be made in the field.

Finish faster, cleaner and move on. A ‘picture framed’ deck looks great, but also requires a lot of extra time to add joists, supports and install a trim board around the entire perimeter of the deck. While the picture framing method can improve the overall appearance of the deck by hiding the end grains of wooden deck boards (or the spaces/holes in some composited decking) there is also another option.

DuraLife now offers color-matched deck board end caps that can be installed quickly and easily to create a sleek, clean profile. Because they use the same composite materials that are used on the deck boards, the caps appear seamless and enhance the appearance of the entire perimeter of the deck.

Lastly, after the last screw is set and the deck construction is finished, contractors can also save time on clean-up by installing DuraLife composite boards that come with a protective plastic film covering them. Instead of spending time washing away dirt and debris from foot traffic during installation, the decking specialist can simply peel away the protective coating to reveal a completely clean, unmarked surface.

Over the course of a building season, completing projects in less time while still providing a high level of quality and craftsmanship will not only improve your company’s profitability, it can also help ensure a strong pipeline of new business. After all, the sooner a beautiful new deck is built, the sooner it can be enjoyed by the customer’s family, friends and neighbors…and the sooner that they’ll decide that they want one just like it!

One more time saving tip; get your Free DuraLife samples now to help you shorten the time it takes to get your clients’ approvals this building season.


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 Free Samples, try our Composite Deck & Railing Visualizer, or contact DuraLIfe now to learn more.