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  • Composite Decking material?

    Hopefully, this isn't too stupid of a question, but I searched and didn't find it addressed. Sometimes that means that answer is so obvious, no one ever felt the need to ask it before!

    We had our front porch rebuilt a few years ago, and I asked the guys for the cut-offs from the composite decking. I'd like to build a matching planter or two. I'm unsure of the brand.

    Are there special considerations when working with this stuff? Does it wear down blades (or bits) quickly or produce toxic dusts? Does everything need to be screwed in assembly or does it take to glues / construction adhesives?

    Thanks very much in advance!

  • #2
    Re: Composite Decking material?

    Take my answers with a grain of salt, as Ive only had one small/medium size project under my belt with composite decking:

    I assume it wears down blades faster. I like to think of it like MDF, really dense material with glues, etc in it. I built a 4x8 platform along with steps and railings but didnt notice my blades really struggling. Keep in mind that the stuff I used was not solid, it was a hollow channel type (TimberTech T&G)

    As far as dust, unless sanding, you get more shavings than anything else. Mine looked exactly like pencil shavings, actually (redwood color). I saved a lot of them and used them to fill in any divets from screws/nails.

    I used DeckMate screws for the deck boards (the timbertech T&G system hides all fasteners, so it didnt matter which color), and to attach fascia board I used construction adhesive and 15 ga finish nails. Check the manufacturers website and you can usually find what adhesives are acceptable. In my case I used a product called Valkem.

    I really enjoyed working with the composite stuff. It was heavier and more flexible than wood (so you have to make a better support structure), but the end product came out really nice and should be as close to maintenance free as one can get. The one thing I would change with how I did mine would be to buy actual screws meant for composite decking. The normal DeckMates seemed to mushroom too much.......not a problem for the product I was using but if your screws will be seen, you want the best fastener possible.

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    • #3
      Re: Composite Decking material?

      Mark I did the exact thing last summer after having a composite deck installed. I used Geodeck after doing extensive research i'm very happy with it. Low maintenace was the seller for me. It's a hollow plastic channel type. Didn't tear up my blades any more than pressure treated wood but a sharp blade definately made a better cut through it. The shaving were similar to wood but have to be swept up and thrown away unlike sawdust that normally just swept into the yard. I built 2 storage boxes with the leftover scraps. Both have removable lids. Geodeck expands and contracts much more than a natural product so its difficult to get a good fit when working with extreme temps. either hot or cold.

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      • #4
        Re: Composite Decking material?

        I have a lot of clients that have decks made out of these types of materials. I have found that some brands do a really great job of absorbing and holding heat. You would have already noticed if that has happened with your deck. A lot of heat would cook the soil and then you plants would be toast!

        Mick
        Last edited by Fireguy97; 03-23-2009, 11:35 AM. Reason: clarity

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        • #5
          Re: Composite Decking material?

          Thanks to all of you who have replied so far!

          Fireguy- Good thought! The planters will be under a roofed porch, but it might be a really important consideration as to where they might go on that porch!

          This material is not channeled, it's solid. But it looks like there aren't any particular concerns. If I were cutting them with a circular saw, I probably wouldn't care. But I don't want to ruin a Forrest Woodworker II on my new tablesaw!

          I have an older plywood blade and a Freud 80 tooth cutoff that I could use.

          Thanks again!

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          • #6
            Re: Composite Decking material?

            Trex composite decking is made from recycled plastics like grocery bags and milk jugs and such. I don't know about other types of composite decking.

            I used my Forest WWII blade when cutting some Trex, and it did just fine. The material didn't damage the blade at all.
            I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

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            • #7
              Re: Composite Decking material?

              Thanks Sandy!

              I think I still might use an older blade...just in case!

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              • #8
                Re: Composite Decking material?

                At least some of the materials are dominately polyethylene and/or polypropylene, which won't glue well, and probably very poorly with aliphatic resin (typical yellow) woodworking glue. You might have better luck with Gorilla glue, which is also more water-resistant. Slow cure epoxy is likely to be the best but very costly. I like West Systems epoxy. 5 minute type epoxy glues don't last long in a wet environment. In any case I would glue up some scraps and check before building your planter.

                I agree, no way I would risk a good blade... the stuff cuts easy, I would use one headed for a resharpening or use a cheapie.

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                • #9
                  Re: Composite Decking material?

                  Good point on the glue, Andy. I used Gorilla glue on the Trex and it worked (is working) great. I never tried Titebond or anything else.
                  I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Composite Decking material?

                    Two minor issues I had with composite decking:
                    1) The "plastic" saw dust was a bit messy to clean/blow off the circular/table saw because of static
                    2) I needed to scrape the blade after ripping some composite decking boards because some of the "plastic" started to get "burned onto the blade

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                    • #11
                      Re: Composite Decking material?

                      I've used polyurethane glue and pocket screws on trex and it seemed to hold.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Composite Decking material?

                        Does all the same info apply to routing?

                        I'm considering ripping the wider boards in half then putting a little roundover on the edges...

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                        • #13
                          Re: Composite Decking material?

                          I rounded over the skirting on my deck and had no problems. Works just like wood.

                          Oh, FYI. I purchased ChoiceDeck from the Big Blue Box. Must have gotten a bad batch because half my deck has a mildew problem that I can't get rid of. I just got involved in a large civil suit against the company. Not sure what the outcome will be though.
                          Last edited by Altima 3.5; 03-28-2009, 09:50 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Composite Decking material?

                            Thanks for the reply!

                            Power to the Concord People!

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