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Renovating the garden terrace: switching from wood to WPC and aluminum profiles

Lesezeit 7 Minuten

The renovation of our garden terrace has been in the pipeline for some time. The larch wood of the substructure could no longer withstand the loads and slowly disintegrated.

So after ten years under the open sky, it was time to give our terrace a fresh update with WPC boards. In this article, we take you on a journey of renewal – from the initial idea to the finished result.

The WPC garden terrace was one of our first construction projects in the garden. The terrace was built into the slope at the time. You can read about how I did this in the article Installing the WPC decking boards or watch the video article Building a WPC patio with garden kitchen on the slope yourself.

I later built a small garden kitchen with an integrated barbecue and sink next to the terrace.


 

The challenges of terrace renovation

 

Condition of the terrace after 10 years

Our terrace has served us well for many years.

But after a decade, the signs of time were unmistakable: although the WPC boards were still in surprisingly good condition, the larch wood decking substructure had clearly suffered.

The moisture had affected the wood, leading to rotting and instability. Woodlice, ants and other insects had already taken up residence in the wood, further accelerating the decay.

 

Problems with the wooden substructure

The once robust counter battens and the cross beams made of larch wood, which formed the foundation of our terrace, had become brittle and rotten. This was recognizable by the torn out screws of the WPC plank holder.

The wood could no longer hold the screws and the tension in the floorboards meant that the screws were simply ripped out. This was easily recognizable by the decking boards protruding upwards at the sides.

Safety was no longer guaranteed. It was obvious: a thorough renovation was imminent.

 



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Step-by-step: renovating the garden terrace

 

Dismantling the old construction

Before we could start with the renovation, the old garden terrace first had to be dismantled.

To do this, I carefully dismantled each individual WPC board, marked its position and sequence on the decking and then stored it.

This was the only way I was able to examine the condition of the wooden substructure in detail.

Even though I had feared the worst, my expectations were exceeded. While some slats and beams were in perfect condition, other parts of the substructure were irrevocably destroyed.

A complete replacement was therefore unavoidable.

 



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The choice of substructure: Why aluminum?

Once the dismantling of the old wooden structure was complete, we were faced with the decision of which material to use for the new decking substructure.

The choice fell on aluminum – and for good reason. Aluminum offers numerous advantages compared to wood: It is durable, resistant to weathering and pests and requires hardly any maintenance.

We had also purchased aluminum profiles a few years ago, which I was finally able to install.


 

 

Installation of the new substructure

Pre-treatment and installation of the beams

To prepare for the installation of the aluminum profiles on my terrace, a solid foundation was required. The wooden beams, as the supporting structure for the aluminum profiles, should also be replaced.

The new wooden beams should simply be fixed back into the post anchors of the old larch beams. However, as larch wood was not available, I decided to use Douglas fir as an alternative.

To increase the longevity and resistance of the wood to environmental influences, I chose to treat it with linseed oil varnish.

This natural protective agent penetrates deep into the wood and provides effective protection against moisture, fungal attack and moss formation.

This step optimally prepared the Douglas fir for use under the aluminum profiles, which should significantly improve the durability and functionality of the entire decking construction.

The wooden beams were then inserted into the existing post anchors, aligned and firmly screwed in place. We paid particular attention to a slight gradient in the terrace construction so that the rainwater could run off better.

 



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Installing the aluminum profiles

As I wrote above, aluminum profiles were chosen for the substructure.

Although the aluminum profiles are somewhat more expensive than wooden slats, for example, I assume that their use will pay off in the long term due to their high stability and extremely long durability.

The profiles I use measure 400 x 50 x 30 centimeters with a material thickness of 2 millimeters and can be extended endlessly with the matching connecting pieces that are inserted into the profiles.

An angle grinder with a cutting disc for metal is sufficient for shortening.

The aluminum profiles were first laid out on the Douglas fir beams for installation and aligned at a distance of 40 centimeters. In this way, the WPC boards can be securely screwed in place and the subsequent load is optimally distributed.

The profiles were then pre-drilled and screwed to the beams using suitable stainless steel screws.

 



Video – Renovate WPC terrace yourself – New construction of the substructure with aluminum profiles

I filmed the renovation of the garden terrace and published it in a video.

Here you can find my playlist with more videos: Tutorials

If you want to see more of me and my projects, feel free to check out my YouTube channel.

 

Abonniere COMMAIK auf YouTube

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Installing the WPC planks

 

Special features of WPC decking boards

Once the substructure was complete, it was time to lay the WPC planks again. WPC, short for wood-plastic composite, is an innovative material that combines the advantages of wood and plastic.

This combination makes WPC boards particularly resistant to weathering and easy to maintain, making them the ideal solution for decking.

Our WPC floorboards purchased more than ten years ago were still in excellent condition, which underlines their durability and sustainability.

 

 

Why did I choose WPC decking boards back in 2012?

The decision to use WPC decking boards was based on a number of convincing advantages that make WPC the ideal material for this project:

  • Durability: The impressive durability of WPC boards, which resist UV radiation and moisture far better than traditional wood, was a decisive factor for me. The search for a long-term solution for my garden terrace that doesn’t require renovation every few years found its answer here.
  • Easy to maintain: Unlike conventional wooden floorboards, WPC floorboards do not require regular sanding, painting or oil treatments. This saves me a lot of time and effort.
  • Look and feel: The natural wood look and feel of WPC planks, without the disadvantages of splintering or warping, played a key role in my decision. A barefoot-friendly and natural look was particularly important to me and my family.
  • Environmental friendliness: The ecological sustainability of WPC, which is often made from recycled plastics and wood waste, underlined my claim to be environmentally conscious.
  • Resistance to pests and rot: The resistance of WPC boards to pest infestation and rot minimizes worries and additional costs.
  • Variety of colors and designs: A wide range of colors and patterns allowed me to customize the terrace.
  • No graying: Unlike conventional wood, WPC planks retain their color and aesthetics over the long term.

These properties of WPC boards had already convinced me to use the material back then. And in contrast to my rather bad experiences with BPC decking boards, I have never regretted this purchase.

 


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Adjustments and fastening

The new installation of the decking boards posed a particular challenge: adapting the fastening technology to the aluminum profiles.

The previous fastening system, designed for wooden constructions, proved to be unsuitable for mounting on aluminum. Consequently, the purchase of a new fastening system was essential.

The choice fell on specialized connecting clips for metal profiles, which guarantee a reliable and long-term fixation of the planks.

The assembly of this system required a precise approach and patience, especially as not all screws could be inserted directly into the aluminum profiles.

It was often necessary to pre-drill holes, particularly at the joints of the profiles where the connecting pieces were positioned, in order to achieve optimum fastening.

 



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Cleaning WPC decking

Installing the substructure and laying the new WPC decking boards took about a day in total.

Once this work had been completed, the patio was thoroughly cleaned using a Kärcher high-pressure cleaner.

The T-Racer was used methodically by carrying out the cleaning movements with a half plank width offset and without applying considerable force.

Incidentally, I have written a separate article about the various options for cleaning a garden terrace with WPC boards here: Cleaning a patio with the T-Racer.

This procedure led to the effective removal of deposits, algae and moss, restoring the surface of the terrace to its original shine.

 



 

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Conclusion and summary

The renovation of our garden terrace, a project that had been planned for some time, began with the replacement of the rotten larch wood substructure with a new aluminum base.

This decision was made after ten years of intensive use and the realization that a durable and low-maintenance solution was needed. The choice of WPC (wood-plastic composite) for the decking boards, made over a decade ago, has once again proved to be the right decision.

These planks are characterized by their durability, ease of maintenance and resistance to weathering, which makes them ideal for outdoor use.

The decking refurbishment included the removal of the old structure, the careful selection and pre-treatment of the new Douglas fir beams with linseed oil varnish and the installation of the aluminum profiles, which provide solid and long-term support for the WPC boards.

A particular challenge was adapting the fastening technology to the new aluminum profiles, which required a special solution in the form of connecting clips for metal profiles.

The final cleaning of the newly laid WPC decking with a high-pressure cleaner ensured a radiant result that made the decking shine in new splendor.

In this article, we have described the entire process from the idea to the completion of our garden terrace in detail to give others the opportunity to build their own garden terrace and, in particular, to successfully design the terrace substructure.


 

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My name is Maik and I have been writing this construction diary since 2008. In addition to my family and job, the expansion and renovation of our art nouveau villa is an important part of my life. Here in the blog I share my experiences. Attention: Some of the linked products are affiliate links. If you order the products through the links, I will be supported with a commission. This has no effect on your price.

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