Composite decking is a building material that’s gaining traction in the construction industry due to its many wonderful advantages. Compared to wood, composite decking is more resistant to weather elements such as temperature, humidity, and precipitation, making this material more conducive for outdoor applications. Its strength comes from combining wood and plastic materials to produce wood-like products. With composite decks, there is no need for sanding, painting, or coating with additional layers of protection. Hence, many DIYers prefer to use composites. With people getting more interested in it, the initial confusion they often meet is, can you cut composite decking with a hand saw? We’ll shed light on this and more in the following sections.
Types of Composite Decking
Before we get to answer if can you cut composite decking with a hand saw, let’s first get to know the materials used in creating composite decks. Knowing the materials that make up composites will allow us to understand better which tools are best to be used to handle and install composite decks.
Composite decks are produced from mixing plastics and wood fibers. The plastic components keep the material resistant to moisture, while the wood fiber is responsible for the strength. Three types of plastics are often added to wood fibers to create composite decks.
- Polyethylene-based: This is an oil-based material and is the most cost-beneficial of the three. It has the semblance of real wood and allows cutting for longer deck boards.
- Polypropylene-based: This type of composite decks is more durable, less likely to expand or contract with temperature changes or exposure to moisture, and has a sheen appearance.
- Polyvinyl Chloride-based: Known as PVC, it is lighter in weight and is well-loved for its scratch-resistant property. Its appearance veers away from real wood, but it has the sturdiest construction of the three types.
Different brands have different wood to plastic ratios. The more familiar brands in the market offer a polymer to the wood ratio of 30:70 t0 50:50. The mixture determines the overall strength of the composite decks. The material’s sturdiness should be considered when choosing which tools to use for cutting. This then raises the question, “can you cut composite decking with a hand saw.”
The Best Saw for Cutting Composite Decking
Can you cut composite decking with a hand saw? When it comes to cutting composite decks, the type of saw – be it a hand saw or a power saw plays little importance. What matters are the cutting tool’s qualities and the kind of cut you want to make. What you should consider are as follows:
- Cut Type: Figure out what type of cut do you want to make to which kind of materials. If you are looking to cut straight a bulky material, you may opt for a medium-duty circular saw with a diameter ranging from 7 1/4 – 12 inches. These qualities can be found in a table saw, a circular saw and a miter saw.
- Blade quality can also affect the cut. When looking for a cutting tool, the rule of thumb would be: Too fine a blade may slow down the work, and too coarse may result in jagged edges. But if you’re working on notches and curves, you can choose between a band saw and a jigsaw. The bandsaw is better employed for large-scale cutting where accuracy is essential but use a jigsaw for smaller cuts.
- Blade Tooth Count: Another factor to reckon when selecting a saw for cutting composite decks is the blade tooth count. For thin decking such as the hollow-type, you may get a blade with maximum tooth count. But for sturdier materials, such as hardwoods and the more durable types of composite decking, choose a saw with bigger but fewer teeth. If you want to play it safe, you can get yourself a medium tooth count saw, as it gets most of the cutting works for a broader product range, done. And if you’re looking to finish the job fast, a blade with fewer teeth does the trick. On the other hand, if precision matters more than speed, select a blade with a higher tooth count.
- Tooth Style: If you want to make fine cuts on composite decks, choose a saw whose blades have a finer tooth. To rip hardwoods and lumber, power saws with square top tooth blades make an excellent choice. If you’re looking to crosscut composite decks, then use alternate top bevel blades on cutoff saws. A blade that’s specifically designed for composite boards is the triple chip style blades, which produces a smooth finish on plastic composites.
Composite decking is a welcome innovation in the construction industry, as aside from being cost-effective and durable, it’s also environment-friendly. And to take advantage of the benefits of using composite decks, you need to use the right tools when handling this material. For beginners who would like to do projects using composite decks, we’ve laid out the best sawing tool to guide you, and so you can quit guessing if can you cut composite decking with a hand saw and start accomplishing carpentry tasks with composite decks. Find out more about composite decking.