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Tongue And Groove Decking: Do You Really Need It?

Deck installation and setup can be a daunting task, particularly if you are doing it all by yourself. Traditionally, putting up a deck means that you will be lining up a series of deck boards and screwing them down while attempting to maintain even spacing between them. While this method works perfectly well, it does have its drawbacks, and you may find yourself looking at noticeable gaps between the planks, unevenly spaced boards, or even warped wood at the joints a few years down the road (if you’re using real wood). Looking for an easier way? Another option comes in the form of tongue and groove decking. This type of decking offers you several distinct advantages over traditional decking. Here are some advantages to using this type of decking, as well as some disadvantages to help you decide if you really need this style of deck or not.

What is Tongue & Groove Decking?

Tongue and groove decking, in simplest terms, is a type of decking that features a long notch cut into one side of the plant and a tongue-like extension on the opposite side, allowing two or more pieces of this material to click together. This type of decking is most commonly composed of manufactured composite material, although it can also be made of plastic or even real wood. When you install this material, a tongue and groove decking surface has a more unified, floor-like feel to it as opposed to a traditional deck installation, and you may prefer this type of look to the more rustic feel of a regular planked deck.

Advantages of Tongue & Groove

If you are new to the idea of tongue and groove decking, you will probably find that it has a number of distinct advantages, both aesthetically and structurally, when you compare it to wood. These advantages include the following:

  • Uniformity – Many people like the fact that tongue and groove decking surfaces look very uniform and smooth. Your tables, chairs, pots, and bare feet will all feel more stable and secure on this type of surface, and it provides a more polished and elegant final product.
  • Ease of installation – When you install this type of deck, the pieces easily click into place without the concern over even spacing between boards. Any mistakes you make are easily corrected before securing the pieces in place.
  • Predrilled holes – If you go with a brand like Gossen, the tongue and groove decking arrives with predrilled holes, allowing you to simply and easily secure the boards into place without the risk of shifting or movement.
  • Material options – Tongue and groove boards are available in a number of different materials, including wood, composite, PVC, and more, allowing you to choose what best suits your budget and aesthetic preferences.
  • Colors – Prefabricated decking of this sort is available in numerous colors, so it will blend perfectly with your existing home structures.

Disadvantages of Tongue & Groove

Disadvantages to this type of decking are hard to find because it is such a great product. That being said, there is one major problem associated with tongue and groove, and that is the difficultly of repairing an individual plank if you find the need to do so. Because the planks are interconnected, removal of a single board is next to impossible. Additionally, when you sweep your deck, you may find it a little more difficult when compared to a regular deck, because dirt and dust cannot escape by falling between the slats like it can on a traditionally constructed deck. There also may be fewer styles available when compared to traditionally constructed composite decking materials.

Considerations When Buying

When selecting tongue and groove decking, there are several important considerations that should be taken into account to get the best product for your needs. First of all, you need to look for a material that is suitable for your location and purpose. Composite and PVC decking material is a bit more expensive than real wood, but it is also a lot more durable and requires much less maintenance. Some types of decking are best suited for covered porches, while others perform just as well in full sun and rain. Examine the board lengths available to see if they will fit your desired space before buying. Other important considerations include guarantees, resistance to stains and mold, and length of warranty.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to installing and maintaining a deck, you really cannot get much simpler and easier than the tongue and groove style. Do-it-yourself weekend warriors and contractors alike will appreciate the user friendly nature of this type of flooring, and the results are both polished and easy to maintain. Tongue and groove may not be right for every décor, but if you are looking for an elegant final product, this style is ideal. If you find yourself concerned about the difficulty of spacing regular deck slats, then this type of product is most definitely worth your while.

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