Grooved Composite Decking: Benefits and Best Practices
by liam blackledge on Nov 23, 2023
Composite decking has become increasingly popular over the last decade thanks to its durability, low-maintenance, and natural wood-like appearance. Made from a combination of synthetic and organic materials, composites provide the look and feel of traditional deck boards without some of the hassles.
One growing trend in the composite decking space is the use of grooved deck boards. These boards feature channels that run the length of the decking surface and offer practical and aesthetic advantages. In this blog, we’ll explore what makes grooved composite decking an excellent choice for your next deck project.
Introduction to Grooved Composite Decking
Grooved composite deck boards feature small channels along the top and sides of the boards that run parallel to the direction the decking is installed. These grooves offer added visual interest compared to traditional flat deck boards.
More importantly, the grooves allow water, dust, and debris to be displaced from the top walking surface. This improves drainage, weather resistance, traction control and makes cleaning between deck boards much simpler.
The grooves also permit the use of hidden fasteners to attach the decking rather than surface screws. This creates a smoother look consistent with premium-grade flooring.
Top Benefits of Grooved Composite Deck Boards
The linear grooves add a contemporary visual flair preferred by many homeowners. They also help break up the monotony of ordinary flat decking surfaces. Mixing grooved and ungrooved boards can lead to even more custom patterns and designs.
Allows Hidden Fasteners
Fasteners driven into the grooves are concealed from view for a streamlined, high-end appearance. No more screw heads dotting the deck’s surface.
By channeling water through the grooves and away from the top of deck boards, issues with standing water, splintering, cupping, and staining are significantly reduced.
Dirt, leaves, pollen and other debris collect neatly inside the grooves for easy cleaning rather than spreading across the entire deck surface.
The grooves allow water drainage while providing ridges for better slip resistance, especially useful around pools or play areas.
Proper Installation Techniques
Installing grooved composite decking takes precision, patience and the right tools. Be sure to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines since some specifics can vary. Here are some general best practices:
- Circular or miter saw
- Safety glasses and gloves
- Hidden fasteners
- Composite deck screws
- Boards in uniform lengths
Steps for Installing Grooved Deck Boards
- Layout decking using chalk lines for visual guide
- Space joists according to board length
- Pre-drill holes for hidden fasteners
- Drive fasteners into joists at appropriate angles
- Attach starter board keeping grooves aligned
- Maintain 1/8” gap between each board
- Use fascia boards around edges to finish
Be sure to regularly check that boards are securely fastened and alignment is kept straight. Avoid forcing misaligned boards into place as this can warp or bow the decking over time.
Caring For Your Grooved Composite Deck
Composite decking is praised for its low maintenance. But to maximize the lifespan and appeal of your grooved deck, be sure to:
- Inspect annually for loose boards or hardware
- Wash periodically with composite deck cleaner
- Use a stiff broom to sweep debris from grooves
- Avoid letting puddles or moisture collect on boards
- Re-seal or re-stain as needed every 2-3 years
For tougher stain removal, use a pressure washer on fan setting to clear debris from grooves. Then apply a composite deck brightener before resealing the wood grain pattern.
Cost Considerations of Grooved Composite Decking
- Type of composite material
- Size of decking boards
- Special colors or customizations
- Labor for installation
In general, grooved composite decking costs $3.50-5.50 per linear foot compared to $3-4 for standard composite and $1-3 for wood. Upfront cost is higher but the extended durability, weather-resistance and low-maintenance often make it more economical long-term.
Creative Design Inspiration
One benefit of grooved composites is the design flexibility it provides. You can accenuate the linear look with diagonal patterns, contrast colors between boards, or mix widths for visual intrigue. Using lighting systems along the grooves can create spectacular nighttime ambience.
Get creative with curves, multi-level designs, bench borders and tapered shape transitions. Grooved decking enables innovative configurations difficult with ordinary deck boards.
Why Grooved Composites Are Gaining Traction
More homeowners and builders are choosing grooved composites for upgraded decks thanks to the added visual appeal, installation benefits, superior weather protection and easier cleaning ability. As manufacturing costs come down, grooved decking should continue its rise in popularity.
If considering a new deck, be sure to explore the range of grooved composite options available. The channelled surface leads to functionality and aesthetic improvements over traditional deck materials. Just be sure proper installation techniques are followed and perform regular care for maximum benefit.
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