Decking Design & layout – how to make it work for you

Undertaking a decking project isn’t a small task, and building a composite deck requires a slightly different approach to a traditional timber deck.

The design and layout of your deck can have a huge influence on not only how it looks, but how much it will cost you to complete as well as the overall finish.

Taking the time to put some good thought into the size, layout and design of your deck will ensure you are utilising the board’s full potential, minimising wastage, and therefore reducing costs.

Preparation is one of the most important stages which is often over-looked – by taking the time to figure out the details before you begin, you will set yourself up for a smooth installation without any surprises along the way.

The Benefits of Using Ekodeck

One of the great benefits of Ekodeck is the long, consistent lengths it comes in.

Utilising the set 5.4m lengths of Ekodeck to your advantage is easier than you might think, and in many circumstances can be worked in a way to reduce wastage whilst maintaining a complimentary design.

The layout of the boards is also very important to ensure the natural expansion and contraction of Ekodeck is managed in the best possible way, giving a successful installation each and every time. Check out our Deck Planner here.

What to Do if You’re Building a Deck from Scratch

If building a deck from scratch, it is highly recommended to design the deck around the set 5.4m lengths (or multiples of) that Ekodeck comes in.

The width of the board can also be used by means of picture framing, breaker boards or borders to pad-out and add that little bit of extra length or width to your deck as needed.

As seen on the deck above, triple end boards and a double breaker in the centre make up a total of over 1120mm!

Running 2 x 2700mm lengths between pushes this deck out to 6500mm+ without any butt joints and next-to-no wastage.

What to do if You’re Replacing an Existing Deck

If you are replacing an existing deck, it may be a little trickier to ensure you aren’t left with large amounts of wastage.

A handy tip is understanding what other lengths you can get out of a 5.4m board to ensure you’re using the most amount of the board you can.

The most common lengths are 1.8m and 2.7m. These lengths allow for no wastage, yet make it easier to achieve the length you’re after, as you can get 3 x 1.8m lengths or 2 x 2.7m lengths out of your 5.4m Ekodeck board.

Additional blocking of your subframe will be needed to support breaker boards.

Alpine Ash/Ironwood breaker board

Here we have a contrasting breaker board, separating full 5400mm lengths of Ekodeck.


This ensures the best management of expansion and contraction whilst adding a point of difference to the deck.


Including the picture frame border, this deck totals over 11m in width.

Why we Recommend Breaker Boards

Due to the natural expansion and contraction of Ekodeck we highly recommend the use of breaker boards. Here’s why:

– It results in sections of boards with a single length which ensures the best possible management of expansion and contraction.

– They avoid larger than necessary expansion gaps.

– They allow you to have sections of boards at the same length.

– They ensure all the boards will expand and contract the same amount.

– You are only ever dealing with the expansion and contraction of one board, effectively making the necessary expansion gap at the end of the boards significantly reduced (halved) compared to when using butt joints.

The deck above is a typical 6m x 4m size.

The utilisation of a central breaker board, double borders and 2700mm infills results in no wastage for maximum use of the board, optimum management of expansion and contraction and ultimately a successful installation.

Note all locking clips are placed in the centre of the boards, allowing the natural expansion and contraction to happen either side of the locking clips.

If installing Ekodeck using a random stagger butt joint method utilising boards of various lengths, it is near impossible to ensure consistent gaps across the deck. For example, a 5.4m board will expand and contract twice the amount a 2.7m board will.

Furthermore, as the boards will expand-into, and contract away from each other, this can result in large expansion gaps, especially when butting end-to-end 5.4m boards.

For these reasons, we strongly recommend against the use of butt joints. For best results, breaker boards are recommended.

This is the same 6m x 4m deck, with a random staggered butt-joint layout.

As you can see, there are many different board lengths in this installation (5400mm, 600mm, 4800mm, 1200mm etc..)

This will result in inconsistent butt joint gaps, as well as locking clips being placed in numerous positions across each board, reducing their effectiveness in holding the boards in place.

Another design aspect to consider with your decking is picture framing. Picture framing, as the name suggests, is a frame or border that runs around the entirety of your deck.

The above designs show how a picture frame design would look on a deck less than 5.4m and a deck over 5.4m long with a breaker board.

This can be used as a design feature to really make your deck stand out and be a point of interest, especially when using contrasting colours for picture framing or breaker boards

The above deck uses Alpine Ash with contrasting Ironwood picture frame and stair details.

When using Designer Series boards, picture framing is necessary to cover the end grain of the boards, which will hide the core of the product being a different colour.

Want to Learn More?

Check out our new deck planning tool to help you design your new Ekodeck deck!

If you have any questions or queries, get in touch with us and we’ll be sure to help and assist the best we can.

You can email us at [email protected] or give us a call to discuss any time on 027 649 1077.

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