When you’re building a composite decking, even the slightest things can affect the whole. For this reason, you may want to prepare and plan as much as possible if you intend to build one. It may be difficult for beginners, but it is totally doable. One of the things that you may want to take note of is deck board spacing. Why do you need to space your boards? And how wide of a gap should you leave between the decking boards? Read on to learn the answers.

Why Do You Need to Leave Gaps Between Decking Boards?

Leaving gaps between the boards is crucial when building a patio. It can greatly affect the performance of your deck. There are two main reasons why this is the case. 

To Preserve the Deck

Putting spaces in-between your decking boards can actually preserve your patio. How so? The gaps between the boards act as the drainage for the patio. Without it, water will be stuck on the surface of your patio. When left a deck is exposed to moisture, the boards can absorb it. If they do, the boards will expand. The truth is, most wooden boards will expand or shrink regardless. On the other hand, composites do change in size, but to a lesser extent. Temperature and humidity cause these boards to shrink or expand. 

The expansion of the boards have issues associated with it. First, it may remove the screws and nails used to fasten the deck. This can make the deck unsafe and unstable. Furthermore, it can be detrimental to the deck’s lifespan. Next, it may warp the boards, or change the boards’ shape beyond repair. And finally, the expanded boards can cause friction and pressure to each other. This pressure will then end up damaging the boards. 

Another reason why it’s crucial to have proper spacing is ventilation. Without the gaps, the vapour that rises from the ground beneath the deck will be stuck. Because of this, moisture will accumulate under the patio. And as previously mentioned, moisture is a major problem for boards.

While these problems occur more often on wooden boards, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen in composite decking boards. True, composites are more resistant to moisture and warping. However, it’s still wise to prevent it from happening. 

For Safety

Spacing out your deck boards can make your deck safer in so many ways. For instance, if you don’t have spaces, as previously mentioned, there might be water puddles on your patio. Not only is a threat to your deck, but it is also a danger to you and your family. Some decks become quite slippery when wet.

Of course, you will need to put the correct width of gaps in-between the decking boards. Not spacing it at all presents problems, but so as spacing it out too wide. For instance, a deck with wider gaps is more susceptible to fire. It is also more likely to trip someone and is often harder to walk in. So the question is, how wide of a gap should you place between the boards?

Proper Gap between Decking Boards

gap between decking boards

When installing decking boards, make sure to leave 1/4 to 1/8 inch gaps in between them. This gap will make sure that the deck can breathe, have sufficient drainage, and make it easier to clean. For the gaps, you can use different tools to help you. Some use a 16-penny nail as a reference for the gaps. 

Of course, the measurement can vary depending on many factors. For instance, composites rarely shrink and expand less than wood. It may be possible to put a narrower gap between the composites. If you’re living in a place where there’s fluctuating temperature, you may also want to consider that when putting the gaps. 

The colour of the boards also slightly affects how they absorb heat, as darker boards heat faster. But most importantly, you must follow the instructions supplied by your manufacturers. They may give you an exact measurement of how wide the gaps should be.