What Kind of Screws Should I Use for Composite Decking

Henry A
Installation
How to Build a Flush Ground Level Decking

What kind of screw should I use for composite decking? Screws vary in style and size. Choosing the right one for your ultra decking may be one of the most important decisions you will need to make. It can contribute to a safer, more durable, and more structurally stable composite decking. If you have wondered which kind of screws and fasteners to use, here are some of your options.

Composite deck screw

Type of Screw for Composite Deckings

Traditional Wood Decking Screws

In most cases, you can use traditional wood screws for decking. When it comes to installation, most composite decking boards are similar to wood boards. However, you will want to make sure you are using decking screws. Deck screws are more weather-resistant and corrosion-resistant than ordinary screws.

Screws vary in length. As a general rule of thumb, the screw should penetrate 2/3 to 3/4 deep into the base or bottom material. For composite decking, you will need at least 75mm long screws. Screws also have different diameters, from 1/16 inch (#0) to 5/16 inch (#20). For general decking purposes, you can use a 5/32-inch-wide screw (#10).

Composite Decking Screws

screws for decking

While you can use traditional wood decking screws, there are better options to choose from. Instead of using wood screws which are made for wood, consider using decking screws made for composites.

One of the issues with using wood decking screws is their larger heads. Wood decking tends to warp, bend, or cup. Larger-headed screws can cover more surfaces and better hold the boards in place. On the other hand, composites do not expand as much as wood, but they can contract. The expansion and contraction of decking boards can pop out the screw heads. Not only are they unattractive, but they can cause accidents as well.
Composite decking screws are easier to drill into composites. They have smaller heads and better threads for easier drilling. They countersink deep into the substructure for a cleaner and smoother finish. Composite decking screws are often high-quality as well. They have the same superior weather and water resistance as the composite boards themselves.

Special Fastener Systems

Composite decking boards come in different varieties. In some cases, you will need to use screws and fasteners, depending on the type of composite decking boards you will be using. Composites can either be hollow or solid. Hollowed-out composite decking boards are lighter and cheaper than solid ones. However, you cannot use traditional methods of screwing them into the frame.

Hollow boards have grooves on either side. To install them, you will need to use hidden fasteners. Hidden fasteners systems use clips inserted into the side grooves and drilled into the deck frame. There are several varieties of fastener systems to choose from. In some instances, some fastener systems are specially designed for a particular brand of composite decking boards.

What Tools do You Need?

In many ways, composite decking is similar to wood decking. To install composite decking, you will need the same tools for wood decking. For screwing the frame and the boards, a power drill is best. There are several types of power drills that you can use. In most cases, any one of them will work fine. Many will recommend using cordless drills for their versatility. Impact drivers are also a popular option for their power and efficiency.

How to Drill Screws into Decking?

When building a deck, you will be screwing things together most of the time, from constructing the frame to laying the decking boards. For this reason, you will need to know how to do it.

For the decking frame, you can use any drill of your choice and some structural screws. You will need to use post-to-beam connectors and joist hangers to screw beams and joists. Pre-drilling for decking frames is usually not necessary. However, many expert builders will recommend doing so. This prevents the boards from splitting.

After screwing the frame with the appropriate screws, it is time to do the decking boards. Most composite decking boards require pre-drilling. However, several brands of composites no longer need it. You also need to countersink the screw holes first to prevent the screw heads from sticking out.

There are also several varieties of decking boards. Grooved and hollow decking boards make use of hidden clips and fasteners. For these boards, pre-drilling and countersinking are often not needed.

How Many Screws do I Need for Composite decking?

Before you start installing Ultra Decking composite boards, you may want to gather enough materials first. Not having enough can cost you more time and effort wasted on going to DIY stores to buy more. Since you will be using screws throughout the installation process, you will need a lot of them. So, how many screws do I need for composite decking? You also need to know how much you would need to drill on various parts of your deck.

How Many Screws Should You Buy?

There is not a straightforward answer to this question, as not all decking is the same. Several factors might affect how many screws you will need. Here are a few things you should consider.

Deck Dimensions – First, you will need to consider the dimensions of your decking area, including the height, width, and length. The bigger and more spacious your deck will be, the more screws you will need.

Deck Board Spacing – Composite decking boards require spacing in between the boards. Decking boards need space to give way for occasional shrinking and expansion due to temperature changes. The more spaced the deck boards are, the more screws you will use.

Decking Board Width – You will also need to consider the width of your decking boards. Decking board widths range from 130mm to 150mm, with 140mm boards being the most commonly used.

Joist Spacing – Another crucial detail to consider is the frame. Similar to decking boards, you also need to have proper spacing, especially for the joists. In decking, it is often 300mm on-centre. The joist spacing will determine how stable the boards will be. The more space in-between the joists, the more screws you will need.

Screws per Decking Board – You will also need to count how many screws you will use for each board. Most decking boards will require two screws each to fix them securely onto the floor joists. As for decking boards for rim joists, many recommend using at least three screws.

Hidden Fasteners – Hidden fasteners do not use the same traditional method of laying the decking boards. These fastening systems use clips inserted into the grooves of the deck boards. As there are several varieties of clips and fasteners, the number of screws needed can vary. In most cases, you will often need half of what you will usually use.

Manually counting all the screws you need is possible but would take a lot of time and effort. Most professional builders estimate the number of screws by the total square meters of the deck area. For standard composite decks with 140mm wide boards and 300mm OC joists, you will need at least 100 hidden fasteners for every 4 square meters installed. Since most hidden clip fastener systems require fewer screws, you will need 100 screws for the same square meters.

Use an Online Calculator

Besides manually calculating how many screws you will need; you can also use various calculators on the internet. However, you will need to know the specifics of your planned deck design to use them. You need to input the deck dimensions, boards, joist spacing, and how many screws you plan to use per decking board.

You can also check in with your decking board suppliers or manufacturers. They can supply you with an estimate of how many screws you will need. Some of them can even give you other advice and instructions for building a deck. It is worth giving them a call.

Follow the Instructions

As easy as it may seem, properly screwing decking frames and boards is crucial. While you can drill composite decking the same way as wood decking, there are several things you need to consider. For your safety, it is always recommended to follow the guides provided by the board’s manufacturers. You can learn more about what types of drills and drill bits you can use. It is also important to follow any local building regulations.

Always Ask the Manufacturers

If you are building a composite deck, it is best to read all the instructions and guidelines supplied with the boards. You may find crucial information regarding what screws to use. Following detailed instructions from your suppliers and manufacturers will ensure the best results. Some companies also have warranty policies regarding screws. If you use the wrong screws, you may end up voiding the warranty.

Decking boards come in different varieties. In some cases, you will need to use screws and fasteners, depending on the types of composite decking boards you will be using. Composites can either be hollow or solid. Hollowed-out composite decking boards are lighter and cheaper than solid ones. However, you can’t use traditional methods of screwing them into the frame.

Hollow boards have grooves on either side. To install them, you will need to use hidden fasteners. Hidden fasteners systems use clips inserted into the side grooves and drilled into the deck frame. There are several varieties of fastener systems that you can choose from. In some instances, some fastener systems are specially designed for a particular brand of composite decking boards.

If you have questions, it is best to contact your supplier or the manufacturer for correct advice and guidance on the types of screws recommended for the decking boards purchased.

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