How to Work With Trex Boards

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Trex is a leading brand of composite wood construction material. It is combined from recycled materials and wood fibers. Most commonly used in deck construction, Trex and other products like it are also used as fence facing and in other outdoor structures such as planters and tool and toy storage boxes. Trex has similar properties to natural wood. It is heavier and more flexible, making it impractical for framing. It can be cut, drilled and nailed with standard carpentry tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Power saws
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Router
  • Lumber for frames
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Treated deck screws

Cutting and Milling Trex

  • Mark your measurements and lines for cutting Trex with a soft lead pencil for best results. Avoid chalk and marking crayons; these can leave stains in the face of the material, causing discoloration that may be long-lasting. If chalk is needed for long marks, use dust-off chalk that will not penetrate the surface.

  • Cut Trex boards with standard power saws for smooth, even cuts. Typically medium to fine-tooth blades work best. Because of the density of the product, increased friction is often evident. Allow the saw to cut through the material at a steady pace without forcing to prevent dulling blades and damage to the Trex itself.

  • Rout edge details in Trex boards with standard router bits. Use paraffin wax to lubricate any bearings or on bit edges to reduce friction. Run the router slowly at a steady pace to prevent chipping.

  • Smooth over any roughness that needs attention with a rasp or file. Avoid sanding. It has a tendency to cause discoloration and other negative side effects on the Trex finish.

  • Drill Trex boards as you would with wood. Run your bits at high speed for best results. Avoid putting undue pressure on the drill to prevent the bit breaking out through the back side and chipping the material. Use sharp bits for best results.

Building With Trex

  • Order the same amount of Trex for your projects as you would lumber. Since Trex is not appropriate for framing, order enough framing to support the added weight and flexibility of the product. For decks, joists must be be a minimum of 16 inches apart. Additional horizontal rails may be needed for fencing as well. A minimum of four rails is recommended for 6-foot-high fence.

  • Attach Trex to lumber framing with galvanized nails, or treated deck screws. Drive nails by hand or with an air-powered nail gun. Use a nail set to make sure nails are flush with the surface, but be careful of countersinking them to avoid moisture puddling on the head and deteriorating the fastener.

  • Drill lightly countersunk pilot holes for screw installation. Drive the top of the screw head flush with the face of the Trex to avoid "mushrooming" that occurs when Trex material puckers around a screw head that has been driven in too far.

References

  • Photo Credit ship"s deck image by Predrag Mladenovic from Fotolia.com
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