Tips and Tricks for getting the best from synthetic decking

Granville OH TimberTech decks
Notice the parting board that connects the TimberTech decking on this large Granville OH deck

Most homeowners, even the really handy ones, have little or no experience in working with synthetic or PVC decking materials. That’s the chief reason why they usually turn to an expert when they want to build a Columbus deck, porch or other outdoor living space with a product from TimberTech or AZEK. For those who are considering taking the plunge into a DIY project or for those who just are more curious to learn the “inside scoop” on working with composites, I offer a few industry insider insights.

For decks over 20’ in width, we use parting boards as an integral part of our designs. Parting boards improve the aesthetics, safety, and often the longevity of decks by decreasing or eliminating the need for splicing boards that come in 12’, 16’, and 20’ lengths. Splices are where toes get stubbed and where rotting frequently occurs. Parting boards look terrific and can save you from the splice.

Consider using contrasting or complementary colors for parting boards, picture frame borders, stairs, risers, trim, and rail caps. It’s a fabulous way to pick up colors from the rest of the exterior of your home or other elements of your yard. Back when you would have to seal and stain to maintain two different colors, people rarely took this design opportunity, but now it is easy as pie to customize your project in this way. If you stay within the same product series, ordering multiple colors usually doesn’t cost you any more.

This TimberTech deck utilizes an alternate color for the border, steps, and the rail cap. Make your custom deck look truly custom!Take advantage of the color variations within the boards to coordinate with other architectural elements within your yard. When synthetics first came on the market, there was little color variation. With each passing year, however, it becomes more and more difficult to tell them from “real” wood because of variations in color and grain pattern from board to board. Try pairing decking that has black streaking with narrow black rail spindles. It is one of my favorite combinations.

Some other special considerations when building with PVC decking include: pre-drilling for screws in key areas, learning how to use hidden fasteners (there is a special tool), and painting exposed board ends with a paint made for that purpose. Special railings are also required when working with synthetics. None of these techniques is beyond the abilities of a talented carpenter who is willing to invest the time in learning some new skills.

A few final words for the eager DIYer: Make sure that you follow the requirements and installation practices supplied by the TimberTech (or whatever company you use). If you don’t, it can void your warranty. For instance, stairs need to be 12” on center. TimberTech has a great installation video series on YouTube. I’d suggest giving that a look before you get deep into your project. Good luck!

Michael Reeder, Archadeck of Columbus
Michael Reeder, Archadeck of Columbus

If you’re thinking about adding an outdoor living space to your Columbus backyard, give us a call to see how we can make creating your dream backyard an enjoyable experience, start to finish. The consultation is completely free. Call (740) 879 – 3730 or email us at We look forward to your call.

Author: archadeckofcolumbus

I began my association with Archadeck in 2001 when I was working for a subcontractor that Archadeck of Columbus was employing for patio installations. I had been working in the Landscape/Hardscape industry for quite a few years at the time and immediately noticed a difference in how Archadeck operated in comparison with other deck companies that we worked with. Over the years of working with Archadeck on numerous projects, large and small, I came to realize the importance of what they were selling; beautiful designs, top-notch craftsmanship and a world class customer experience. This is what drove me to start working for Archadeck in January of 2011 and eventually buying the company in 2016. My wife, Amber, and my son, Logan, could not be happier to be a part of such a wonderful organization. We look forward to the future as we build the outdoor living environments our customers dream of with the “world class” service they deserve!

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