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Decking FAQs


Getting Started
Do I need planning permission to build a deck?
Not usually. Most decks - as an addition to an existing property - do not require planning permission. However, this may be different for homes in a conservation area, listed buildings or homes governed by local neighborhood ordinances. Before you make any decisions about building your deck, find out if there are any restrictions or limitations on adding a deck to your property. Examine your deed for easements, review local zoning laws for restrictions and check your Home Owners’ Association guidelines, if applicable.

Do you have design software to help plan my deck?
Yes. We offer Do-It-Yourself downloadable software to help you create the perfect additions to your outdoor spaces quickly and easily, including decks, garages, sheds, patios, fences, and a multitude of other projects. All the guesswork is eliminated as the software handles the calculations, creates custom plans, and instantly generates a personalized shopping list.

How can I buy the decking materials I need?
You can purchase the materials you need to build your deck at your local The Home Depot store. Start in the Lumber and Building Materials section of the store and you’ll likely need to visit the Tools & Hardware section of the store, as well. If you have specific questions regarding decking materials, an associate at the Pro desk will be your best resource.

If your local store does not have what you need in stock, place a special order directly with the manufacturer at the Special Services desk. This allows The Home Depot to "extend the aisles” and provide you with an additional service for your convenience. There are thousands of items available through our in-store Special Order program. Our Special Order manufacturers are experts at producing and shipping the items that are not typically on the shelves of our stores. Special order products can take up to 6 weeks to be delivered to the store. Most special order products are delivered to the store for the customer to pick up. Some products can actually be delivered straight to your doorstep. In either case, all special orders must be paid for at the time the order is placed.

You can also find many of the products you’ll need to build your deck on and have them delivered right to your door. You’ll also find product information, buying guides and project know-how on to assist you through your deck building process.

Can The Home Depot help me install my deck?
In many cases, yes. Our decking professionals make it easy to add your new deck while offering professional design and quality installation. To find out more information about getting your deck installed by The Home Depot professionals, visit the Home Services desk in your local store, or browse our online information.

Materials: Composite
What is composite?
Composite is a combination of polymer resins and premium recycled wood fiber, offering the best of both materials. The resins shield the wood from insect and moisture damage, protect the wood from UV damage and add stability and traction.

Can composite be used for the deck support structure?
No. While composite is tough and durable, it does not have the same stiffness as wood. Therefore, it is not intended for use as a load bearing post, joist or any other primary load-bearing member.

Can composite be painted?
The beauty of composite is its durability and its low-maintenance care. Although composite can be painted, the low-maintenance quality of the material may be diminished due to the need for additional and ongoing care to the painted surface. If you choose to paint your composite, you should allow the material to fully weather. Weathering can take 90 – 180 days or one full summer.  Touch-ups and rework will be necessary every few years as composite materials do not absorb paint to the extent of 100% wood. Be sure to talk with an associate in The Home Depot’s paint department to help identify the appropriate type of paint as oil-based paints adhere best to composite material.

Is composite slippery when wet?
No, composite is not slippery when wet. 

Do I need special tools to work with composite?
No. Composite can be cut, drilled, routed and nailed using standard tools. 

Materials: Wood
Is pressure treated wood safe for my family?
Yes. Pressure treated wood The Home Depot stocks is safe when used in residential applications when the industry wide safety handling instructions are followed. For additional information regarding safety handling instructions, please read the Safety and Handling Instructions below.*

Why are different species of lumber available in different parts of the country?
Different species of lumber respond differently to such location-specific factors as weather, earthquakes, hurricanes, moisture changes, insects, stress, snow loads and so on. Local building codes specify which lumber species and grades are appropriate for a particular area. The Home Depot stocks lumber that is species specific to various regions, usually species that pros have successfully used in the area for generations.

What's the difference between nominal and actual size?
There is a difference between the labeled, or nominal, size and the actual size. For example, a nominal 2"x4" is actually 1 1/2" by 3 1/2" inches.

Lumber mills start with wet wood. Many mills dry the wood, causing it to shrink slightly. Then they surface each piece, resulting in a finished product whose actual size is smaller than the original, nominal size. Over the years, grading rules have accepted dry and surfaced wood as the actual size.

Can I stain pressure-treated lumber right away?
We recommend using the "cup-of-water" test before staining. Take a cup of water and pour it onto the treated lumber in several places. If the water is absorbed and doesn't bead up, the lumber is ready for painting or staining.

How will my deck change due to weathering?
Wood: In general, as wood is exposed to environmental elements, it will begin to fade, especially if it is left untreated. The extent of fading depends on the type of wood, the temperature, the frequency and type of environmental exposure and time.  At The Home Depot, three primary solid wood materials are available: Cedar, Redwood and Southern Yellow Pine. Left untreated, the woods will weather to varying shades distinguished silvery grey.

Composite: Composite material is a heavy weight material that helps resist warping, cracking or splitting. This durability also helps to reduce weathering and can help prolong the life and look of your deck.

How do I maintain my deck?
Maintenance is minimal with decks requiring a scrub down with a stiff brush or power hose once or twice a year. We recommend painting or staining your wood deck every two years, or as needed. Composite decking does not need to be stained and need only be washed once or twice a year to maintain.


*Safety Handling Information: Pressure treated wood at The Home Depot has been preserved by pressure treatment with an EPA-registered pesticide containing copper and quaternary compounds to protect it from termite attack and decay. ProWood Micro preservatives penetrate deeply into and will remain in the wood for a long period of time. However, some preservative may migrate from the preserved wood into surrounding soil or water over time and may dislodge from the wood during construction or use upon contact with skin. The following precautions should be taken when handling the treated wood and in determining where to use or dispose of the treated wood. 

Handling and Use Recommendations: Do not burn preserved wood (see Disposal section). Avoid prolonged inhalation of sawdust. When sawing, sanding, or machining wood, wear a dust mask. When power-sawing and machining wood, wear goggles. Wear gloves when working with wood. All sawdust and construction debris should be cleaned up and disposed of after construction. After working with the wood and before eating, drinking, toileting, and use of tobacco products, wash exposed areas thoroughly. Wash work clothes separately from other household clothing before reuse. Preserved wood should not be used where it may come into direct or indirect contact with drinking water, except for uses involving incidental contact such as freshwater docks and bridges. Do not use preserved wood under circumstances where the preservative may become a component of food, animal feed, or beehives. Do not use preserved wood for mulch. Only preserved wood that is visibly clean and free of surface residue should be used for patios, decks, and walkways. Use hot-dip galvanized or other fasteners and hardware as required by building codes. Aluminum building products can be placed in direct contact with ProWood Micro treated wood products used for interior uses and above ground exterior applications such as decks, fencing, and landscaping projects. 

Examples of aluminum products include siding, roofing, gutters, door and window trim, flashing, nails, fasteners and other hardware connectors. Aluminum contact is not recommended when ProWood Micro treated wood products are immersed in water or are subject to frequent and prolonged wetting or other severe exposure conditions. In such cases, a moisture resistant protective barrier should be placed between the aluminum products and ProWood Micro treated wood. Mold growth may occur on building products, including untreated or treated wood. To remove mold from a treated wood surface, mild soap and water is typically used. 

Disposal Recommendations: ProWood Micro products which are no longer usable, such as cutoffs, broken boards, sawdust or treated wood material taken out of service may be disposed of in landfills. Treated wood should not be burned in open fires or in stoves, fireplaces, or residential boilers. 

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