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When you are building your composite decking, you should ensure that you leave gaps between the boards. Gaps between plastic wood decking boards are crucial if you want your decking to last long. Failure to install your composite decking the right way will make the boards crack, sag, warp or split. But it does not mean that composite decking is not a good outdoor flooring material. Unlike wood that cracks or breaks due to the elements of nature, composite wood decking won’t. But homeowners have to take steps to ensure that their plastic wood decking does not become damaged due to bad installation. So, do you leave gaps between composite decking boards? Let’s consider the answer to that enquiry. 

Why Composite Decking Needs Gaps between the Boards

One difference between plastic wood decking and lumber is that the former is stronger and more durable than the latter. When you construct your decking with wood-plastic composite, the elements of nature will not destroy it. Lumber decking will become easily susceptible to the elements of nature. It is because lumber expands and contract to result in cracking or splitting of the boards. Improved decking technology has led to the creation of highly durable outdoor decking like composite and plastic. Composite better resist the elements than any other decking type. Better still, composite has an improved flexible surface and resist cracking. 

This implies that composite decking will not easily crack. But it does not imply that composite boards will not crack if installed improperly. That is why homeowners must add space between their plastic wood decking boards. The essence of adding space between plastic wood decking boards is to cater for expansion and contraction. As the temperature in your garden or anywhere you install your decking fluctuate, composite boards will experience thermal expansion and contraction. It implies that the heat of the day will make your plastic wood decking expand, while the cold of the night will make it contract. Note that timber decking won’t survive long because of heat and cold. 

That is why lumber decking will crack or break. But composite decking will not. Instead, plastic wood decking will expand or increase when the board surface is hot and contract when the board surface is cold. That is why composite decking installers should never install the decking tight against one another or a wall. There should be a gap between the boards and a wall so that if the decking expands, the boards will not touch one another. Decking installers know the right amount of space to add between composite boards. But what if you are installing your composite boards yourself? 

What Is the Right Space to Add between Composite Boards? 

At times, homeowners with carpentry skills can decide to install their composite decking themselves. This is possible if homeowners are familiar with install decking material or can use the basic carpentry tool. It is not difficult to install composite wood decking yourself if you have carpentry skills, but you must follow best practices. Best practices when installing your plastic wood decking means that you must know the right space to add between the boards. Adding too much or too little can be detrimental to your decking. 

The space you should add between your composite boards should be ¼ to 3/16 inches. Never exceed ½ inch between the boards when installing your composite wood decking. You must get the right spacing requirement when building your plastic wood decking. If the space between your wood-plastic boards is too small, the boards will touch one another. And if the space between the boards is too much, dirt and rotten pollen will accumulate between your composite boards. 

When dirt accumulates between your plastic wood decking, it can cause mould and mildew growth. Mould and mildew growing in between your composite boards can destroy your decking joists and the composite boards. Aside from that, if space between your wood-plastic decking is too much, it will distort the surface of your decking. Thin lines on your decking surface are enough if you want it to retain its beauty, but when the lines are wide, your decking will be less attractive. 

Conclusion

Do you leave gaps between composite decking boards? When constructing your composite decking, you should leave the right gap between the boards so that they will expand and contract without touching one another. 

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