Is Composite Decking Easy to Install?

decking installation

Building a composite decking board is not a simple task. Aside from the cost of the materials, employing professional contractors is not cheap. Most experts estimate at least 40% to 50% of the total cost will go to paying a professional tradesperson. For this reason, many homeowners consider building the decking themselves. For experienced builders, it may be easy. However, what about those who have no prior experience in construction? How difficult is it to install composite decking?

Should you Stick to Hiring a Professional?

Building a deck is a long and complicated process. More so if you are doing it all by yourself. To successfully construct a good one, you’ll need lots of planning. First, you have to select which material you’ll be using, prepare the land, and get planning permission if needed.  The hardest part for some is installing the boards. 

Generally, composites are easier to install. As every composite decking board is different from another, the methods to install them are also different. There are two types of composite decking boards, and they are different from each other when performing installation.  When selecting a material, one of your choices is composite decking materials. They’re quite durable, long-lasting, and aesthetically beautiful. Is composite decking better than other types of decking when it comes to installation? Is it easy to install?

Before anything else, let’s talk about the difficulty of installing common decking boards. Softwood and pressure-treated lumber are the most common types of decking used. They are quite difficult to install, especially the pressure-treated boards. Not only are they heavy, but they are also incredibly hard as well. This makes it hard to drill holes or hammer nails into them. Another disadvantage of wood decking is that they are prone to shrinking and expanding. These movements of the boards push the nails or screws upward, which makes the boards unstable and dangerous. 

But what about composite decking boards? Are they any better when it comes to installation? 


Is Composite Decking Easy to Install?

Is composite decking easy to install


We can group composite decking boards into two when it comes to installation. Here are the two types of composites and how they are different from each other when installing them. 

Grooved Composite Decking Boards

Grooved decking boards with indents or channels on each side. These spaces make it easier for builders to install the deck. Unlike traditional wooden boards, you do not have to use screws and nails to hold down the boards. Instead, a hidden fastening system is used. The hidden fastener clips to the side of the grooved composite decking board, which is screwed directly onto the joists or substructure. This method is easy to install and provides a cleaner, smoother look to your decking area. It is also safer since nails or screws do not get pushed upward onto the decking surface, which can cause accidents.  

Many people prefer this type of decking material. Not only because it’s easy to install, but it will also give a cleaner and smoother look to your decking area. It’s also safer as you won’t have to worry about the nails or screws getting pushed upward, which can cause accidents. 

Ungrooved Composite Decking Boards

Ungrooved decking boards look identical to the traditional decking boards. These types of boards belong to an older generation of composites. As they are similar to every other type of decking board, there is not much difference in installation. You can install them using screws or nails directly through the top of the board into the substructure underneath. Ungrooved composite decking boards are often lighter than wood, making them easier to drill and install. When deciding to build a deck, it is generally easier and safer to use grooved decking boards.

What Type of Decking Board to Use for Easy Installation?

When deciding to build a deck, it’s generally best to use grooved decking boards. You don’t need to drill the boards as you will be using clips and fasteners instead. You’ll also have a composite decking board without exposed nails and screws. 

However, it doesn’t mean that ungrooved decking boards have no use. There may be times that you’d want to use them instead. For instance, if building a deck on your house’s upper floors, it’s better to use ungrooved. Unlike grooved decking boards, ungrooved boards don’t have wide gaps between them. Because of this, there’s less chance for water or other liquids to pour down from the deck. Some people also prefer their decks without gaps.

How to Build a Deck on a Budget?

Building a deck in your home will enhance its appearance and boost your home’s value. Although building an outdoor decking area can be expensive, it is possible to buy from Ultra Decking and build a low-budget decking solution. Ultra-Decking has composite decking boards to suit all budgets and tastes.

Choose a Simple Design

The cost to construct composite decking depends on the design. If you want to build decking on a budget, choosing a multi-level design will not be cheap. Select a decking design that will meet your budget.

Choose Affordable Decking Material

Composite decking requires little maintenance and will last for a long time. This will save money on maintenance supplies, time and labour over the long service life associated with composite decking boards.

Install Decking Yourself

Installing the decking yourself will reduce labour costs. Decking installation is an easy task if you have basic carpentry skills. If you do not have basic knowledge of carpentry, laying your decking correctly may not be easy.

Build Your Decking During the Off-Season

If you are unable to install the decking yourself, take advantage of off-season pricing. Constructing a decking in summer and spring is expensive since it is the busiest time of the year and demand for labour is high. Try building it during Autumn and Winter when demand is at its lowest. Many decking builders offer discounts on both supplies and installations during the off-peak periods.

Steps on How to Layout Decking Boards

Layout the decking boards and get the materials and equipment you will use ready. Laying decking boards will require but are not limited to the following tools. Hammer, spade, drills, handsaws, jig saw fasteners, strings, weed control fabric and gravel. You will also need treated post and joists and, of course, composite decking boards.

Step 1: Prepare the Area

Start by preparing the deck area. If there is grass, stones, and debris in the area, clear them away. Once you have done that, proceed to level the area if it is uneven. You can now spread weed control fabric over the area to keep weeds from growing underneath your decking board. Add the gravel on top of the fabric and hold it in place.
Next, lay out the area by using pegs to mark the spot. Then tie the strings around the pegs. You can now make a hole around your deck area to insert the posts. The post will serve as a support for your decking.

Step 2: Build the Substructure

After installing the posts, start connecting joists from one post to the other. The joists are where you will lay your decking boards on top.

Step 3: Layout the Decking Boards

Proceed to lay up your decking boards away from the direction of any walls, fixed objects or fencing for proper rainfall drainage. Grooved decking requires a hidden installation method. Use starter clips at the beginning before switching to hidden fasteners. Fasten the clips to the decking frame and use the edges to hold the decking by its sides. Ensure you leave a gap of 3-6mm between the decking boards.

Step 4: Finish the Edges

You can now finish the edges with composite trims or fascia boards.

Ways to Hide Composite Decking Edges?

There are different ways to hide the edges of your composite decking. Covering your decking edge will make it blend well with the top. To create a more beautiful look, you can even make the colour of the decking ends different from other parts of the decking. You can use picture framing, plastic end caps, paints, trims, and a fascia board to cover your composite decking edges.

Picture Frame Method

One of the ways you can hide the edges of your composite decking is by using the picture frame method. The decking framing method is similar to the way you frame a picture. If you want to use picture framing, you must attach the frame to the decking edge. The frame will hide the rough edges of the deck. Apart from that, the framing also makes it easy for visually impaired people to climb the decking stairs.

Composite Corner Trims

Another way you can hide the edges of composite decking involves the use of composite corner trims. The trims consist of the same material as your decking. To hide the edges of your decking, attach the trims to it. You can also use a trim that matches the colour of your decking. This will create a finished look. An advantage of using composite corner trims is that it requires the same maintenance as your composite board.

Fascia boards are good for hiding the edges of your decking. Like composite corner trims, fascia boards contain composite decking material. It is also easy and affordable. All that is needed is to attach the fascia flush to the top of the decking. Since it is composite, it also requires the same maintenance as your decking.

Vinyl Stair Nosing

You can also use vinyl stair nosing to cover the edges of your composite decking. However, the nosing is not the same material as the decking. It is made of vinyl and is also not the same colour as your composite decking. Using stair nosing to cover your decking edges is simple. Roll out the material and trim it to the size of your decking edges. After trimming it, attach the nosing to the deck with glue. You can also use a pan head screw to attach the stair nosing to your deck.

The nosing colour will highlight the sides of your deck by creating a colour contrast around it. The contrast in colour will improve the visual appearance of your decking. It can also help in reducing falls from the deck. This increases grip and minimises the chance of slipping on the decking.

Plastic End Caps

Lastly, you can also use plastic end caps to hide your decking edges. These are limited for use with circular hollow composite decking. It has a small plug that you can attach to holes in the decking boards to hold the caps into place. The plastic end cap will provide a finished look for the edges while covering the holes. This method of hiding your decking edges is simple and does not require additional framing.


It is possible to build decking on a budget. At the end of the day, whatever type of composite decking boards you use, one thing is for sure; they are easier to install than most decking boards.
Choose a simple composite decking design and boards you can afford. Building the decking yourself will reduce labour costs.


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