How Do I Keep My Decking Boards From Warping?
Have you ever seen a deck with curved boards? Maybe you’re even having that problem now. Like many other homeowners, warping is one of the dilemmas of having a patio. The boards that make up the decking are also prone to warping, even before you install them. So, the question is, how do I keep my decking boards from warping? Fortunately, there are ways you can keep your composite decking boards from warping before and after installation. But first, let’s briefly talk about why they warp.
Decking Board Warping
The warping of the decking boards is due to the shrinking and expansion of the boards. The moisture that it absorbs causes the materials to expand. When it leaves the board, the boards revert to their original size. This movement is usually not an issue. However, when certain areas of the board shrink or expand faster than the others, it will cause pressure. This stress on the boards will cause them to bend and deform the board.
Do all materials shrink and expand? All wooden decking boards are known to change in size due to moisture and temperature. So all wooden decking boards are susceptible to warping. On the other hand, wood-plastic composites also shrink and expand. The wooden fibres embedded within them absorb the moisture. However, they are less prone to warping. The plastic fibres within them keep the board in shape. Because of this, they expand and shrink at a uniform rate.
Warping Prevention Before Installation
As previously mentioned, warping can take place even before you install them. Most of the warping occurs when the materials are not properly stored. So when keeping your decking, make sure it’s in a cool, dry, and clean place. Otherwise, you’ll risk warping them.
Another thing you can do is to cover the entire stack of the boards with a moisture-resistant fabric. This cover will prevent any moisture from entering the boards. Since boards slightly warp over time, you can also place a heavy object over them. However, make sure it’s not too heavy for the boards.
Before installing the boards, you also need to dry them out to revert them to their original size. There are many ways to remove the moisture from the materials. How you will do it will depend on the materials themselves. Make sure to follow the instructions given to you by your suppliers or manufacturers.
Warping Prevention During Installation
During installation, you will want to make sure that the boards are already dry. You will also want to work in a suitable condition. It’s best to work during the morning, as the weather is still not hot or humid. If you think the temperature and humidity will affect the boards during installation, you may want to continue it the next day.
Another crucial thing during installation is properly placing the board crown up. Wooden decking boards slightly bend along upward, which is called crowning. If you install the boards crown down, the decking will be more susceptible to puddling. As for composite decking materials, you don’t need to worry about this issue.
Finally, one of the most important steps to remember is to add proper decking board spacing. While it doesn’t prevent the boards from warping, it can protect every single board from more damage. It also helps with ventilation and drainage.
Warping Prevention After Installation
After installation, there are still ways to protect your decking from warping. If you have wooden decking, you will need to seal it. Applying wood sealants on the decking prevents the board from absorbing moisture. You will need to do this every few years, as they wear down as time passes. As for composite decking, you don’t need to apply sealants, but you can do so if you want.
Another crucial way to prevent warping is regular maintenance. Whether you’re using wood or composite decking boards, you will need to clean them regularly. Make sure that it’s always dry and clean.