How to attach wood/composite planks onto concrete?

kharvelApril 2, 2007

Hello all,

I'm located in Seattle, WA. I will soon be having a large concrete patio of approximately 350 sq. ft. in my backyard However, the concrete patio is exposed aggregate and this type of concrete is extremely painful on bare feet.

I have decided that once the concrete patio is finished, I will buy deck planks of either wood or composite and then attach those planks directly onto the concrete so that the patio surface will become wood and easy on the feet. I am not interested in building a deck. . I just want to put wood planks on top of the concrete and enjoy something that LOOKS like a wood deck.

What is the recommended approach to installing planks directly onto concrete? From my research on the web, it is recommended that I go with composite planks instead of wood due to rotting issues associated with attaching wood directly to concrete. But I am not really sure how to affix the composite planks directly onto the concrete. Any help is appreciated. Thank you.

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If your slab is level, you can get interconnecting decking tiles made of hardwood. They lock together, and just sit on the slab. Or you can get astroturf.


Here is a link that might be useful: Deck tile link

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 6:46AM
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Steve is right about the tiles - they would be a good choice. They have a backer that will raise them slightly off the concrete. Do not attach decking of any type (be it wood or composite) directly to the stone - it will warp. Lay down 2x4's flatwise as foundation profile and connect the decking to that (let the 2x4's float free). This is essentially the same as the tile approach.
This isn't guaranteed problem free, because the stone or cement is a heat sink and will warp most anything as the sun hits the top of the decking and the bottom is cooled by the stone beneath. But it works well in most instances.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 7:18AM
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John agrees with Steve and Martin. If the slab is yet to be placed a person could go with stamped creet. John

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 9:11AM
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Thank you for your response. An update to my original posting: the square footage is actually 500 sq. ft., not 350 sq. ft.

I did consider deck tiles, especially the Kontiki deck tiles (from Vifah) on Those are the cheapest deck tiles I could find anywhere. At 500 sq. ft., it would be nearly $3,000 for the deck tiles, including shipping.

If I were to go the composite decking route, using the method suggested by Martin, then it would cost me less than $1,700 including shipping from (Yakima composite decking at $1.30/lineal foot).

So given the above cost estimates, would you say that it would be cheaper for me to go with the composite deck approach and I would get the same result at a cheaper price than deck tiles?

Is there a web link to a site that provides detailed instructions on how I may go about installing the composite deck using the method described by Martin? Thank you.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 2:58PM
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I defently do not recomend fastening any composite that low to the ground with or with out using the stringers. But if cheep is what you want I am recalling advice from my early days of Contracting>>> If you want quality Oats,you have to pay a Quality Price,,,But if you dont mind oats that have been thru the Cow just one time>>Lets Make A Deal!!!! J

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 7:54PM
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I always get a chuckle when you give that "advice"

$1300 for some questionable composite that I never even heard of. Add to that the cost of the sleepers/nailers that you have to install before the decking...add to that the cost of the screws and decking installation (unless you can install it)...what do you save?

I looked at the Kontiki tiles. I am not familiar with shorea. It looks nice, but I don't know how it holds up. Better than composite decking, but more expensive. At least you can install it yourself.

I understand that everyone has a budget, but to make your decisions based on price alone is not a good idea. This is your patio/deck, and you only have one chance to get it right. My advice is, buy the best, and only cry once...or cover the slab with astroturf.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 8:44PM
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I don't really understand your comment regarding the costs. What are "sleepers/nailers"? I had mentioned that I just want to put the planks down on the concrete slab WITHOUT the complicated decking installation. Martin responded that all I had to do was lay down 2x4 on the concrete (free float) and then nail the planks on those 2x4 to get the "deck" I am looking for.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 11:36PM
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Sleepers are the 2x4's or equiv that you lay down to attach the decking to.
How much height buildup can the installation tolerate? (i.e. is the concrete patio currently a step down, if so how much) The more you can elevate the decking off the concrete patio the better.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 8:36AM
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Martin answered the question. It would be better to fasten the 2x4 sleepers to the slab, as pressure treated wood will warp...especially in a moist environment.

You keep saying that you don't want to do a deck installation...yet that is what you are asking about. You can't just lay composite decking on the slab (like you can with decking tiles). You need some kind of substructure. a deck.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 10:42AM
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Martin, Thanks for the clarification on the sleepers. I believe the maximum height buildup allowable is about 4 - 5 inches. Hope that is enough.

Steve, when I mentioned deck installation, I was talking about the typical deck installation that involves a lot more than just laying sleepers on the concrete then laying the planks on the sleepers. The sleeper/plank installation appears to be so simple that it doesn't look like I need a manual or a guide to do this.

To prevent warping/rotting of the sleepers themselves, I think I would get composite sleepers in addition to the composite plank. Is this a good idea?

FYI, I'm attaching a link for the Yakima composite planks from BuildDirect

Here is a link that might be useful: BuildDirect Yakima composite decking

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 1:10PM
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Sounds like you have plenty of height, at 4-5", to work with.
Another thought - I haven't worked with these personally, but there is an adjustable height pedestal called a Bison or Buson that is intended for use in this application. Worth googling.
I have not personally worked with Yakima. It might not be my first choice. However, BuildDirect is a reputable outfit.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 5:43PM
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Those deck boards remind me of Nexwood, they went down in flames.
I'd be careful about buying any composite that only cost $1.30
per linear ft.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 5:54PM
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I feel that I should chime in about Yakima composite decking and Kontiki deck tiles - I sell them at BuildDirect. A lot of people are excited by the price, and also question it for all of the reasons Brooklyndecks mentioned. But just as it isnÂt a good idea to buy based on the cheapest price, itÂs also not a good idea to assume that a very good price always means lesser quality.

For Yakima products, the reason for the good price isnÂt about cutting corners or ignoring the customerÂs needs for long-term durability. ItÂs due to our channel to the customer  directly from the manufacturer by the container-load. We donÂt pay agents or shipping handlers to do this. We donÂt incur the cost of sales and marketing at a manufacturing level either. We do all of that ourselves, so there are fewer mark-ups. We brand it and merchandise it. The money we save on not having to pay middle parties is what accounts for the price. So, it is a good product youÂre buying and itÂs coming to you through a more efficient channel.

As to the Kontiki deck tiles and how they hold up, shorea wood is very durable, and very eco-friendly too since it is a plantation forest . Shorea is attractive and the tiles are easy to install  great for DIYers laying decking onto a concrete surface like a rooftop, balcony, or existing deck surface.

I hope that sheds some light on these products.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 1:19PM
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Composite decking heats up in the Sun so you can't really walk on them, or sit on them with shorts on.
Maybe I'm missing something, but...
You're pouring a new concrete pad and you're exposing the aggregate in the process. Now you want to cover the exposed aggregate because it's painful to walk on.
If you didn't expose the aggregate, it wouldn't be painful to walk on and you wouldn't need to cover it up and spend money for a composite that would also be painful to walk on.
Maybe you could put something over the composite.
Like I said, maybe I'm missing something.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 4:07PM
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Its a strangae deal Ron, some funny stuff passes around over here. J

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 5:34PM
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I did this on my small side porch (roughly 100 sq/ft) a couple years ago, and have had no problems.

I went with pressure treated lumber because of a tight budget on the porch, and can't comment on the fake wood. Here's what I did though.

1. I ripped several deck planks in half which left me with ~1 1/8" x ~2 1/2" pieces. I did not use 2x4's because of clearance issues. But the ripped planks work fine, and are cheaper if you have a table saw (heck a circular saw will work).

2. I attached the ripped planks to the concrete with tapcons. (concrete screws)

3. I attached the decking to the now secure "sleepers/stringers/nailers" with stainless DECKING SCREWS. No nails here.

4 . Around the front and sides I repeated the process only I attached 2x12's as facia.

People who don't know there's a concrete porch under the wood never DO know until I tell them. They just think I have build the most solid wooden porch on the planet.

As long as the patio is pitched slightly for drainage you won't have moisture issues.

It's a little work doing this. It's a lot of drilling with a hammer drill, but aside from that it's nothing out of the ordinary. Definitely less work than building a conventional wood deck. No more than an afternoons work for 350 sq/ft

A couple tips though.....

Get ahold of a hammer drill, or 2 if you have help. You can probably rent them from HD, or similar. A regular drill with masonry bits will take forever, and cordless hammer drills will eat batteries all day.

Don't use nails. some woods/plastic won't cup but PS will, and I've seen it pull nails and loosen in a hurry. Stainless screws are the way to go, unless you use some hidden fastener system which I know nothing about.

This isn't rocket science, and is really not a hard project. It's not as easy as laying the deck board on the concrete, not fastening them, and calling it a deck, but I'm sure it holds up a lot better. like I said, it's an afternoons work at worst. Whether you do it yourself, or hire someone to do it.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 10:50PM
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