Plastic “Wood” Decking

Working with plastic “wood” decking is something I’d had a little experience with but this was the first large scale project, primarily due to the exorbitant cost.  But, dottir’s friend P and I worked together for the better part of a week as he first removed all the aged and non-reusable old decking (and kept the burn pit flaming for three days) and then screwing down the new material.  He started with the platforms in front of the porch and I began cutting the “boards” for the larger section in front of the living room.

Working the plastic decking is not really dissimilar from using SYP except that there is no grain and much less binding with the circular saw.  The stuff cuts like butter because in consistency it really is like stiff butter.  The decking comes with some proprietary screws (very pricey, of course) and we went through a lot of them.

One thing I did notice is that this plastic stuff is much less stiff than SYP or even red cedar or redwood, and there is a distinct little bounce to the decking between the joists since we were applying it on the diagonal for aesthetic reasons.  Were I to build a new, heavily used deck with this decking in mind I would definitely space the joists closer that the 16″ o.c. I did for this one thirty-plus years ago.  Since this deck is really just a design feature that gets very little use (near zero, actually), the spacing and bit of bounce was not an issue.

After all the “boards” were screwed in place I used a long straightedge to guide my saw in trimming the ends and the project was finished.  My project for next year is to dismantle and replace the sagging beams and replace the open arbor that used to be there.  The beams were assembled with Japanese joinery, which requires fully seasoned/very dry wood, but the material was not dry enough so over time as the wood dried its dimensions changed and the joint sagged.