Installing a new deck can be tricky. One of the first questions you may encounter, especially if you have no prior experience building decks, is how you’ll set the decking boards. Many wonder which way the decking boards should face when installed. But does it matter? With composite decking, can you install it either way? Is composite decking reversible?

Does It Matter?

Depending on the materials you’ll be using, correctly installing them will matter. Moreso when you are using wood. Wooden decking boards have three different cuts or grain configurations. If you look at the width of the boards, you’ll see the arching lines, which are the grains. The most common types used in decking are flat grain, which has grains that run parallel to the boards.

If you install the wooden decking boards incorrectly, the result can be problematic. If you set the boards with the grains upward, or bark-side down, it can cause cupping. Cupping can cause water pooling on your deck, which can become a long-term problem. To install wooden boards, you’ll have to install them bark-side up, which causes crowning. Crowning, on the other hand, helps with water drainage. 

But the question is, does this matter for composite decking? Composite decks don’t have grains. For this reason, many choose composite decking boards instead of wood. But orienting composites the right way is crucial for other reasons. 

Can You Install Composite Decks in Any Orientation?

Despite not having grains, it’s still important to install composite decks the right way. But the question is why? Most composite decks on the market today have caps, a protective layer of plastic that shields the boards from moisture and other types of damage.

Many composite decking boards have three-sided capping. The only part of the material that has no protection is the bottom layer. The reason why is to improve breathability and moisture drainage. For this reason, if you have this kind of decking board, you’ll need to place the uncapped portion down. This kind of decking board is not reversible. 

Aside from capping, you’ll notice that some decking boards have reeds or grooves on its surface. The grooves of the composite boards will also affect how you would install the decking boards. Whether you want to position the grooves downward or upward is still up for debate. Many people reason that the reeds increase friction, which acts as an anti-slip feature. On the other hand, some also say that they improve the breathability of the boards when they are installed face down. Regardless, you will still need to consider the capping even if it has grooves. 

Are there Any Reversible Composite Decking Boards?

reversible decking boards

Installing your decking boards can be confusing, especially if you’re not sure what the right orientation is. Fortunately, there are composite decking boards that are reversible. These types of decking boards are excellent choices, especially for beginners. 

Reversible composite decking boards can be installed either way. Most boards of this type have full capping, which means there are no sides uncapped. Most of the reversible full-capped decking boards are also hollow, which makes up for the lack of breathability. While hollow decking boards can be slightly less durable, the difference is not as noticeable. The advantage of hollow decking boards is that they are less resistant to warping, expanding, and shrinking. 

You can also find reversible decking boards with different styles on each face. It provides you with an extra option on which design to use for your deck. 

Where to Buy Reversible Decking Boards?

You can find many manufacturers selling reversible decking boards. One of the most popular brands that offer them is Ultra Decking. You can find Ultra Decking boards that have two different designs of grooves in one. You can also get high-quality, low-maintenance, and long-lasting decking materials. If you’re planning to get reversible decking boards, it’s one of the best places to start looking. 


To summarize, while it matters how you install your decking boards, many composite decking are reversible. Because of their design, they are easier to install, especially for beginners.