Building composite decking has been made easier for DIYs. But for you to install your composite boards, you must understand that there are different types of composite decking boards, and the type affects their installation method. If you install grooved wood-plastic decking boards, the way you install them is different from how you will install ungrooved decking. So, what are the different ways to install composite boards? 

How the Types of Composite Boards Affect Their Method of Installation

There are two types of wood-plastic decking boards. The grooved boards have channels or hollow at their sides that run from one end to the other along the length of the boards. Grooved boards are hooked or held down to the joists at their sides. Another type of wood-plastic decking boards is ungrooved decking. Unlike the grooved, ungrooved don’t have hollows of channels on their sides. Also, ungrooved decking is not held down to the joists with hooks. 

Ways of Installing Composite Decking

The way you install wood-plastic composite depends on the kind of boards that you purchase. If you prefer grooved wood-plastic composite boards, you will not use the surface installation method to attach them to the joists. But if you prefer the ungrooved boards, then you will use the surface installation method. There are differences between surface decking installation and hidden installation. 

The surface decking installation makes use of screws or nails. Note that installing your decking with nails is not a good practice. To do surface installation of your decking, you have to lay the wood-plastic boards side by side on the joists and attach them with screws. Most decking installer will advise that you pre-drill your wood-plastic decking boards to avoid splitting them. After pre-drilling, you can drive the screws into the wood-plastic decking boards. Homeowners don’t prefer the surface installation method because the screws will appear on the surface of their decking. 

This will distort the beautiful appearance of wood-plastic composite decking. Although you can cover the surface of the screws or paint it to conceal the top, this is not still sufficient. The other way of installing wood-plastic boards is using hidden fasteners. Hidden fasteners make use of clips and screws. You can only use hidden fasteners on grooved decking boards. The clips will hold down the wood-plastic decking at the grooved sides. Then you will use screws to fix the clips to the joists. 

How to Install Grooved Composite Boards

The way you install grooved and ungrooved composite boards are similar until that part where you lay the decking on the joists. You must first prepare the spots you will install the decking. Aside from that, you must build the joists and the substructure that will support your composite boards. 

Step One – Prepare the Place You Will Install Your Composite Boards

The place you will install your composite boards is part of your garden or property that you have set aside for the decking. You should clear the area and ensure that you remove debris and level the ground to make sure that it is straight. This will ensure that you will achieve straight decking. Then, you should dig holes and fix the posts that will support your decking frame in the holes. 

Step Two – Build the Composite Joists

You will attach the joists to the posts and ensure that you build it, leaving at most 16 inches of space between the planks. You should use treated wood for the plank to prevent rot and termite attack. 

Step Three – Lay the Composite Boards

ways to install composite decking

Up until this stage, installing grooved composite boards is the same as installing ungrooved boards. You will need wood-plastic composite boards, and you will lay them on your joists. For grooved decking, you must use clips and fasteners. You will fix the clips to the joists and use the hooks of the clips to hold down your decking at the grooved sides. When your composite boards are firmly secure, then you can use screws to hold down the clips to joists. For the first sets of composite boards, you should use starter clips, but for the other boards, you should use intermediate clips. 

Installing Ungrooved Composite Boards

To install ungrooved composite boards, you have to do step one and step two of installing grooved decking. The only differences are the three steps. We will explain how you can install ungrooved decking in step four. 

Step four- Installing Ungrooved Composite Boards

To install ungrooved wood-plastic boards, you don’t need clips. Use screws to hold down the boards to the joists after you have arranged them side by side. Ensure you leave a 5 mm gap so that your composite boards will not sag when they expand. 


The different ways to install composite boards are the hidden clips method and the screw method. While you can use screws to install any composite board, you can use clips to install ungrooved composite boards.

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