Can You Put Composite Decking Over Wood Decking?

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Installing composite decking over wood decking is an attractive option for many homeowners looking to upgrade their outdoor living spaces with a modern touch. However, before you start this renovation project, it’s essential to grasp the full scope of what such an installation entails. Understanding both the benefits and the potential challenges is crucial for making an informed decision and ensuring the longevity and effectiveness of your decking upgrade.

Understanding Composite Decking

Composite decking is a popular alternative to traditional wood decking, made from a blend of wood fibers and recycled plastics. It offers the aesthetic appeal of wood without the high maintenance. It resists fading, staining, and weathering better than wood, making it a sought-after option for many homeowners looking to upgrade their outdoor spaces.

Is It Feasible to Install Composite Decking Over Wood?

One of the first questions homeowners ask when considering an upgrade to their deck is whether they can simply place composite materials over their existing wood deck structure. The answer, however, is not straightforward. While theoretically possible, the practicality and success of such an installation depend heavily on the condition of the existing wood deck.

Examining the Existing Deck Structure

The integrity of the original wood joists is crucial when considering overlaying them with composite decking. These joists often bear the brunt of outdoor elements over the years and may be compromised. If the wooden deck was built long ago, the joists might be spaced too far apart to support the denser composite decking, which typically requires closer joist spacing to prevent sagging.

Moreover, removing the old decking can sometimes damage the joists. Nails and screws from the original decking can leave holes and weakened spots in the wood, which can affect the overall stability of the deck structure.

Challenges with Re-decking

Composite decking is a significant investment, and installing it over damaged or inadequately spaced joists can lead to issues that negate its long-term benefits. The process of removing old decking, inspecting and repairing damaged joists, and potentially adding more joists to meet the requirements for composite decking can be both labor-intensive and costly.

Installation Considerations

If after careful inspection the existing joists are found to be sound, some adjustments might still be necessary. Ensuring that the joists are level and structurally sound is crucial before proceeding with a composite overlay. However, even with a sound structure, the underlying old work remains a concern. The warranty and longevity of the new composite deck might be compromised, as the success of the installation partly depends on the old deck’s framework.

Best Practices for Deck Upgrading

Given the complexities associated with placing composite decking over an existing wood deck, here are some recommended steps for those considering this upgrade:

  1. Thorough Inspection: Have a professional inspect the existing deck to assess the condition of the joists and overall structure.
  2. Consider a Full Replacement: Often, replacing the entire deck structure is more cost-effective and less risky than overlaying composite materials on old wood.
  3. Consult Professionals: Before making any decisions, it’s advisable to consult with decking professionals who can provide guidance based on the specific conditions of your deck and local building codes.

Alternatives to Complete Overlay

If the existing deck is not suitable for a direct composite overlay, consider other remodeling options such as:

  • Replacing the deck with entirely new composite decking and framework.
  • Refurbishing the existing wood deck by treating and repairing the wood to extend its life, postponing the need for a full composite upgrade.

In Summary

While the idea of simply laying composite decking over an existing wood deck is appealing, it often involves more complications than benefits. The integrity and spacing of the old joists are crucial factors that can significantly impact the feasibility and success of the project.

If you are considering such an upgrade, it is best to contact us for a detailed consultation and explore all available options to ensure that your investment enhances your outdoor space effectively and sustainably.