Deck Installation Tips for Winter

Installing decks when Mother Nature turns down the thermostat presents some seasonal challenges. Here are some quick reminders about what to be aware of when working with decking material in cold weather.

  • When the temperature is cold (40° F or less), reduce the feed rate when cutting vinyl. This will help prevent chipping and breaking.
  • Keep vinyl material warm—in the customer’s house or your heated truck—before working with it.
  • Keep SCREENEZE® in a heated area prior to installation, because the caps might split in cold weather.
  • Keep rail bracket screw covers in your jacket pocket to keep them warm. When cold, the covers might break.
  • When installing composite decking, pre-drill before putting fasteners into it. This will help prevent the material from splitting.
  • If you haul plastic materials on the back of a trailer or truck, make sure you have fastened them securely. If they flap in the wind, they might crack or break.
  • Decking will expand and contract; make sure you consider that when measuring materials and constructing decks.

According to the WOLF PVC Decking installation guide:

“WOLF PVC Decking, when installed with two screws per joist, will have minimal expansion and contraction due to temperature changes. There will be no side-to-side movement and small end-to-end change; slight gaps may be noticed at the ends of boards or in spliced joints.”

With a 50° F temperature change, expansion and contraction estimates for unattached WOLF deck boards are:

  • 3/16” for 12’ boards
  • 1/4” for 16’ boards
  • 5/16” for 20’ boards

When you’re installing decking in temperatures below 32° F, WOLF recommends spacing butt ends of boards 3/16” apart and leaving a spacing of 1/8” to 3/16” from side to side.