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Updating a Deck with Composite Decking

This DIY Basic will provide tips on updating a deck with composite decking.

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Watch an Overview Video

Gather Your Materials and Tools

Materials and Tools:

composite decking and railing
composite bench, planter, chair
hammer
screw gun
screwdriver
circular saw with carbide-tipped blade with fewer than 20 teeth
carpenter's level
tape measure
rasp
blue chalk line
#7 2 1/4-inch stainless steel trim head screws
outdoor adhesive or finishing nails

Remove the Old Decking

Eco-friendly, easy-maintenance composite decking stands up to extreme weather, won't splinter and is easy to install.

Start by removing old decking.

Make sure joists are sound and level. Joists should be 16 inches on center when decking is perpendicular; 12 inches OC when diagonal or angled.

Install the New Decking

Attach posts to rim joists with two 1/2-inch carriage bolts.

Install decking with expansion gaps 1/4-inch side-to-side and 1/8-inch end-to-end.

Cut boards to fit around posts, leaving 1/8-inch gap. Stagger end joints or install pattern board to eliminate them.

With blue chalk line, mark edges, then trim with circular saw. Unlike other colors, blue chalk will not stain decking.

Rasp edges to finish, and slip post collar over post.

Hide the Fasteners

To hide fasteners, countersink screws into decking approximately 1/4 inch.

Tip: 2-inch driver bit allows better gauge of screw depth.

With thumb, lightly push displaced decking over screw hole and tap with edge of hammer.

Install the Handrail

Check local building codes: Residential minimum handrail height is generally 36 inches; baluster maximum spacing is generally 4 inches; maximum gap between bottom rail and deck surface is generally 4 inches.

Cut two temporary blocks the height of toe sweep and place on inside of posts.

Set bottom rail on blocks and center on post.

Install the Balusters and Finish Installation

Place baluster against post and on bottom rail. Use clamps to hold balusters in place while attaching them.

Screw balusters to posts, two screws at each end, three screws evenly between. Screw bottom rail to post baluster.

Place top rail on balusters and screw balusters into rail. Toe nail top rail into posts.

Place support blocks every two feet beneath bottom rail and screw into rail.

Space interior balusters evenly between post balusters and attach as above.

Using exterior adhesive, attach post cap to post top.

Finish update with matching deck bench.

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