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How to Build Your Dream Deck This Summer

deck

Photo Credit: Trex

Summer is officially here, so it’s time to start thinking about those much needed home improvement projects you have been wanting to tackle. We all know weather can change by the day, not to mention the hour, from high winds and heavy rains to extremely cold winters, so it’s important to find a decking material that is as beautiful as it is durable.

deck
Photo Credit: Trex

With so many decking materials to choose from, it can often be a challenge to find one that is right for you, but we found Trex composite decking to be a more lasting and durable alternative to wood. Trex decks can be easily cleaned with a combination of soap, warm water and a brush, so you will never have to worry about having to paint, stain and seal your deck at the end of each season as a wood deck would require.

 

deck
Photo Credit: Kellie Speed

When considering a deck replacement, you want to be sure to take several things into consideration. For example, do you wish to increase the size of your deck or simply replace the existing? While considering the use, it’s also important to find a way to enhance the outdoor living space by bringing your own unique style to the design. We looked to DB&S Lumber and Home Improvement Center of Norwell to assist in our decking transformation from a pressure treated wood deck to a gorgeous Trex Transcend deck in Lava Rock complete with Transcend Railing posts and rails in Classic White and sleek 36-inch aluminum balusters in Charcoal Black.

deck
Photo Credit: Kellie Speed

While we had a licensed contractor perform the installation for us, it is always very important to review the manufacturer’s instructions when installing composite decking material to be sure both the homeowner and contractor are on the same page. In New England, thermal expansion is something to take into consideration as temperatures fluctuate and could cause an issue with how the decking is spaced from the colder months to the warmer months. Be sure to keep in mind that you will need proper spacing to ensure flexibility during these temperature changes. 

deck
Photo Credit: Kellie Speed

The Trex Transcend collection, which contains 95 percent recycled content, offers a more natural look with its wood grain textures. One of the easiest ways to get started is with the Decking & Railing Duos tool that offers pre-selected railing and composite decking combinations so the design work is already done for you. For a clean look, we recommend the low-sheen Lava Rock (reddish-black) boards complemented by a combination of posts and rails in classic white and balusters in charcoal black. 

deck
Photo Credit: Kellie Speed

Trex recommends a steel frame substructure. Wood will warp and rot, and potentially cause the deck to sink or become misshapen, while a steel frame will provide a solid foundation. Proper spacing and sizing of beams and joists is essential for the deck’s overall life. If the deck is not installed properly, it will encounter many problems in the future.

Determine the size of your deck (the decking boards come in 12’, 16’ or 20’ lengths) and decide if you prefer a hidden fastening system free of fasteners (grooved profile recommended). Square edge boards are designed to be installed with deck screws and can also be used to create a luxe cocktail rail. Grooved edge boards install easily with hidden fasteners and sub-surface clips, so the deck surface appears entirely smooth. During installation, the clip systems are adhered to the deck frame across the joists that align the side of the boards. The decking combines a finish that resists stains, scratches and mold with a natural-looking, wood grain pattern that won’t rot, warp, crack or splinter, so it’s essentially maintenance free.

deck
Photo Credit: Kellie Speed

It is important to be sure the joists are leveled to keep the joints at the same height. While cutting composite decking is very much like cutting traditional wood decking, composite can be hard on standard blades. There are specialized blades designed specifically for cleaner cuts on composites. 

When starting the new composite deck installation with the hidden fastening system, the work should start at the house by screwing the first board along with a hidden fastener clip on top of each joist. One of the most important steps for properly securing the decking in place is to be sure you have at least a 1/8” space between the decking boards allowing for proper drainage and ability to expand in warm weather. (Be sure to also allow for extra spacing at the ends to allow for additional expansion without coming in contact with the home). The next board’s groove should slide easily into the clips, which are then tightened. Each board can be easily cut to the preferred length with a circular saw or miter saw for more accurate cuts that can then be fastened with the decking screws into each joist. The contractor will continue laying planks across the deck, notching the decking, to fit around the railing systems. 

What makes the Trex system so unique is its ability to be cut and secured like traditional wood offering a professional finish. Be sure to take into consideration any load bearing area will need to be framed and additionally supported before the composite decking is attached. The Transcend collection also includes a completely modular railing system that allows for incredible design flexibility with mix-and-match balusters, posts and top rails. Architectural curved or round aluminum balusters are available in many different colors in the Trex Transcend railing collection.

For added enhancements, be sure to consider incorporating energy efficient lighting into your new decking and railing system. Stair risers will illuminate the deck just right at night offering the perfect ambient lighting, illuminating a deck that will be the talk of your neighborhood.

Kellie Speed

As the Boston city guide editor for JustLuxe, Kellie Speed is a native Bostonian and a freelance writer/editor/copywriter with more than 20 years expe...(Read More)

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