How to Build a Composite Boardwalk and Accent Walls

Lead friends and family into your backyard with a beautiful, maintenance free boardwalk and accent walls that you can build in just a few days.

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Next Project
Time

Three Days

Complexity

Beginner

Cost

More than $1000

Introduction

An inviting boardwalk and attractive wall accent panels are the finishing touches you didn't know your backyard needed. The boardwalk provides an elegant path, and the accent walls tie it all together. Best of all, they’re built with composite decking, which is easy to clean and will look good for years to come.

Tools Required

  • circular saw/miter saw
  • Drill/driver
  • hidden fastener installation tool (recommended)
  • landscaping tools

Materials Required

  • 3-in construction screws
  • Composite Decking
  • Deck joist tape
  • Drainage rock
  • Hidden fasteners system
  • Pressure-treated 2x4 lumber

Fh22jun 618 50 145 How To Build A Composite Boardwalk And Accent Walls Boardwalk FinalFamily Handyman

The boardwalk is a quick and easy build. The flexible composite decking will follow slight contours in your yard and can span roots and rocks that would otherwise require excavation. You may have to do a little digging to make the boardwalk flush with the ground and create a seamless walkway through your yard.

The walls surrounding this backyard were bland. To liven them up and match the rest of the new space, we used extra deck boards to outline the new seating area. These two projects take just a few days to build, but they can have a big impact.

Project step-by-step (7)

Step 1

Prep the Ground

To build the boardwalk at ground level, dig a trench along the path. We needed to fill our trench with drainage rock to keep the pressure-treated lumber dry. We dug out six inches of soil to fit a two-inch layer of rock topped with our 2x4 frames. Tamping the area before and after laying the rock gave us a solid foundation.

Fh22jun 618 50 092 How To Build A Composite Boardwalk And Accent Walls Prep The Ground

Step 2

Build the Boardwalk Frames

The frames of the boardwalk are simple boxes built from pressure-treated 2x4s. Place two long 2x4s along the edge of the boardwalk to determine their length. Then fasten the stretchers between them 12 inches on-center with construction screws.

Fh22jun 618 50 121 How To Build A Composite Boardwalk And Accent Walls Build The Boardwalk Frames

Step 3

Add Blocking At the Miters

Turn the boardwalk with a miter, as shown in our design, by adding blocking to support and secure both ends of the mitered boards. We added two 2x4 stretchers at a 45-degree angle from the corners and cut stretchers to fit.

Fh22jun 618 50 106 How To Build A Composite Boardwalk And Accent Walls Add Blocking At The Miters

Step 4

Protect the Wood Frame

To further protect the framing members, we used Trex Protect, a butyl tape that comes in convenient widths (1-5/8-in. and 3-1/8-in.) to fit on the edges of 2-by lumber. The tape can be applied to vertical and horizontal surfaces, making it perfect for these projects.

Fh22jun 618 50 149 How To Build A Composite Boardwalk And Accent Walls Protect The Wood Frame

Step 5

Let the Deck Boards Run Long

Running the deck boards past the miter allows us to make one clean cut using a circular saw and a straightedge. Cut the same angle in the adjacent boards and repeat the process.

Fh22jun 618 50 144 How To Build A Composite Boardwalk And Accent Walls Let The Deck Boards Run Long

Step 6

Vertical Wall Panels 

Vertical Wall Panels

These vertical wall features are easy to build and add tie the entire backyard together.

Fasten Ledger Boards

The wall panels are attached to the block wall on 2x4 ledger boards. The 2x4s are cut about
2 in. short of the total width of the wall and installed with concrete anchors. Put the ledger in position and drill through it and into the block with a hammer drill outfitted with the correct-size bit. The hole should be deep enough to seat the anchor completely.

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Step 7

Fasten deck boards

Fasten a solid-edge deck board vertically with composite screws and matching plugs, making sure it’s plumb. Then attach the grooved deck boards with starter clips and hidden fasteners, and finish with a final solid-edge board on the end.

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