Composite decking is a material made from combining plastic and wood fibres, which results in superior construction material. However, despite its strengths, it’s not indestructible. One crucial aspect is decking foundations. So for many people with no prior experience in decking, one of the most common questions is whether you can lay composite decking directly on the ground. But first, why is it an issue?
Why You Don’t Want to Install Decks Directly on the Ground
The main reason why many recommend against installing decks on the grass is due to potential damage. Some of the frequent issues you may encounter are rotting and insect damage. The moisture seeping from underneath the surface can cause moulds and mildews to grow. The damage will start on the frame of the deck, and will slowly reach the decking boards.
Of course, composite decking materials are superior to wood. They can withstand more abuse than wooden decking. Unfortunately, they won’t still last long when installed under the wrong foundations. Depending on the current conditions of the ground, it may or may not be wise to install composite decking directly. With that said, there are lots of means to put composite decking on the ground without having any issues.
How to Install Composite Decking on Dirt
There are many potential problems with installing composite decking over bare dirt. However, there are a few simple things you can do to avoid such issues. These are the steps to install composite decking at ground-level.
First, plan the layout of your deck. Mark the locations on the dirt by hammering some stakes and using some stakes and paint.
Remove any grass, weeds, plants, and rocks in the installation area. Use a weed killer if necessary. You’ll want to work with bare soil, so you will need to dig at least 5cm deep.
Next, you have to ensure that the area is level. You can check by placing a flat surface, such as a board, and put a spirit level on top of it. Tamper the soil if it’s not level.
To avoid any potential weed growth, which can be damaging to decks, cover the area with landscaping fabric. Then layer the area with gravel until it fills the 5cm gap that you made. The gravel will help drain any water coming off from the deck. You may need to tamper it again to flatten the ground.
For the next step, you can choose to install the decking boards directly on the gravel, or you could decide to elevate the deck for added protection from moisture and damage. If you do want to raise the deck, you can use a sleeper system that comprises beams and joists.
For best results, you’ll want to use water-resistant materials, such as pressure-treated wood or composite lumber. Alternatively, you can also use concrete slabs.
Finally, you can install the decking boards according to the instructions. For added protection, especially if you choose to build it directly on the ground, you may decide to install edging around the deck.
How to Install Composite Decking Tiles
Another way of installing composite decking on dirt is by using decking tiles. It can be easier than installing composite decking boards, especially for beginners. Here are the steps on how to do it.
For composite decking tiles, you will need a stable and flat surface. To prepare the dirt, you will have to remove all the weeds, plants, and rocks. Then, dig a few inches of soil depending on your preferred decking height. Use a tamper to level and pack the dirt.
Next, make sure that the area is flat by tampering it. You may need to dig or put more soil if the ground is not level. Then, cover the place with landscaping fabric and gravel. Next, you’ll need to layer the top with pea gravel. Tamper and pack it once again if necessary.
Finally, install the decking tiles according to instructions.