When it comes to composite decking, one of your main priorities is safety. One of the few issues that can cause accidents is the gaps that will appear in your deck. Not only will it cause some serious accidents, but it will also make your patio look bad. The question is, why do gaps between boards grow? And how do you fill gaps in composite decking?
Why Decks Develop Gaps?
There are a few reasons why decks develop spaces in-between each board. One of the most common reasons is the expansion and contraction of the materials. When wood absorbs moisture, it will expand. And when it dries out, it will shrink to its original size.
Vinyl and plastic decks, on the other hand, expand and shrink due to high temperatures. As for composites, it can be either or both. While these often happen after the deck is finished, it may also occur even before installation.
When composite, wood, or plastic is not stored properly, it can change in size due to the previously mentioned factors. Installing them while they are not in their original sizes can lead to decks with wide gaps or none at all. SO before installing them, most builders will store them at a dry, cool, and dark place to let them change into their original dimensions.
Of course, it’s only natural to have gaps in-between the decking boards. It helps with airflow, drainage, and prevents friction between the boards. However, when the gaps become too wide, it can be an unsightly view. Or worse, it can cause many accidents.
How To Fill Gaps in Composite Decks?
When the decks become too wide, you’ll need to do some fixing to avoid any accidents. There are a few ways that you can handle this issue.
One of the most drastic measures that you can do is to remove all the boards and try reinstalling them. However, this process can be expensive and time-consuming. Boards installed using screws and nails, rather than hidden fasteners, can be a little tricky to reinstall.
However, if you do decide to do this, make sure that you get the right spacing in-between the boards. Let them dry out and leave at least 5/8 inches apart from each board. Make sure to leave gaps between the ends of each board as well.
However, there are a few ways to do it without reinstalling the whole deck. One of the ways to do it is by caulking. However, it can be even trickier than just reinstalling the patio. Many builders agree that caulking, especially the gaps on decks, is a poor show of craftsmanship. The hardest part is making it look good.
Another popular way of filling the gaps is by using fibre ropes. It is often used in wooden decks, but it may also work in composite decking. For this method, you will need to clean your patio from dirt and debris first. Then, you will need to get some fibre rope that will fit tightly on each of the gaps.
Next, get a bucket of paint or stain with the same colour as the composite boards. Place the rope in the bucket and let it sit for a while to absorb the colour. Remember not to use synthetic ropes, as the colour will only slide off.
Lastly, take out the ropes from the bucket and let it dry. Once it dries, carefully insert the rope on the gaps of your patio to fill it. When the gaps become wider, you can replace the ropes with thicker ones.
How to Avoid Gaps in Composite Decking?
The best way to solve this problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. When installing decks, whether wood or composites, make sure that you let them dry first. Doing so will let it return to its original size. Then, install the deck with the appropriate decks spacing.
Another way to prevent this is by choosing high-quality boards. Expansion and shrinking is a common problem for non-capped composites. For extra protection, go for capped decking boards. Buy boards from reliable manufacturers and suppliers. This can help you avoid encountering low-quality ones. Lastly, keeping your deck dry and maintaining it can help avoid gaping boards.