A deck is a wonderful addition to any home. A deck takes you above the world. And this elevation is apparent when you view the deck from ground-level and see the large open area below the floorboards. To mask this area and give the deck a clean, unified look, there is a simple solution: lattice. Installing plastic or wood lattice is a low-cost refresh that you'll be able to finish in just an hour or two.
Basics of Installing Deck Lattice
Lattice is available in either plastic or wood. Since both come in 4-foot heights, you can cover a deck up to that height with a single piece of lattice, add more lattice for higher decks, or cut down the lattice for lower decks.
A few solid attachment points for lattice are found on the deck. On top, the lattice can be fastened to the deck's rim joist or beam. On the sides, it can be attached to the vertical posts. Because horizontal support is needed for the bottom, you will need to install a two-by-four stringer from post to post.
Plastic Lattice for Decks
Impervious to insects or rot
Molded as one piece
Available as a deck kit
Paint does not stick well
Limited color choices
Must be cleaned rather than painted over
Plastic lattice is made of vinyl and comes in 8-foot lengths that are 4 feet high. Both diamond and square styles are usually available. While white lattice is often in stock at many home centers, a few other colors such as black, green, gray, or brown are available by special order.
Molded as one piece, plastic lattice holds together well when cut. Because the lower area of decks is often in contact with vegetation, vinyl's durable, water-resistant nature reduces maintenance.
Yet plastic lattice provides fewer style choices than wood lattice. It cannot be stained. Painting plastic lattice is possible to some degree. But you lose the benefit of plastic's baked-in color by painting it. When plastic lattice has become discolored, the solution is to clean it since it cannot be painted.
Wood Lattice for Decks
Stainable to wood tones
Requires regular maintenance
Slats can dislodge from the lattice
May twist out of square
Wood lattice is typically constructed in the factory from cedar or another hardy species of wood. Wood lattice comes in 8-foot lengths that are 4 feet high.
A chief advantage of wood lattice is that you can control the style. Since the wood comes uncoated, it can be stained, painted, or left to weather on its own. Wood is rigid, so it won't bend as much as plastic lattice.
Wood lattice, though, does require frequent maintenance by repainting or applying more protective coating. Since wood lattice is made from individual slats, these slats can become detached when you are cutting it.
Codes, Regulations, and Permits
Building a deck often requires a permit in many areas. Installing lattice on a deck may not require a permit, but you should always check with your building department for confirmation.
Always wear eye and hearing protection when cutting or fastening plastic or wood lattice to a deck.
Equipment / Tools
- Cordless drill
- Circular saw
- Electric miter saw
- Tape measure
- Plastic or wood lattice
- 3 Flat wood or PVC 1-3/4 inch by 8 foot molding strips
- 2 Galvanized reinforcing L-angles
- 1 Pressure-treated two-by-four
- 1/2-inch stainless steel screws
Measure and Cut the Stringer
With the tape measure, measure the inside distance between two of the deck posts. Transfer this measurement to the two-by-four. Cut the two-by-four with the circular saw or miter saw.
Install the L-Angles
With the cordless drill, attach the L-angles to the sides of deck posts. Step back the L-angles by 1 1/2 inches from the front of the posts. For height, the L-angles should be kept as low as possible, but not so low as to interfere with deck piers or to touch the ground.
Install the Stringer on the Deck
Have an assistant hold the two-by-four as a stringer against the L-angles while you go under the deck with the cordless drill. Drill the two-by-four into place against the L-angles.
Measure the Coverage Area
The lattice should reach the bottom of the stringer two-by-four and 1/2-inch below the deck floorboards. On the side, the lattice should reach the center of the posts, less 1/4-inch.
Cut the Lattice to Size
Transfer the measurements to the lattice. For vinyl lattice, use a blade suitable for cutting plastics. For wood lattice, use a fine-toothed blade.
Attach the Lattice to the Deck
Pre-drill holes every 24 inches around the perimeter of the lattice. The holes should be slightly larger in diameter than the screws that you'll use to fasten the lattice to the deck. Hold the lattice against the installation area and screw it into place. The lattice should be able to slightly move to allow for expansion and contraction.
Attach the Moulding Around the Lattice
Measure all four sides of the lattice. Transfer those measurements to the plastic molding (if using plastic lattice) or wood molding (for wood lattice). Cut the moulding. Attach the moulding around the lattice with screws running from the moulding to the rear attachment point, but not piercing the lattice. The lattice should be free to move.