Rip Cut 101: What You Need to Know

September 24, 2020
HomeOutdoor Living IdeasRip Cut 101: What You Need to Know

What Is a Rip Cut?


A Rip Cut Occurs When…

You cut along the grain of a deck board – that is, cutting a board lengthwise, instead of cutting across the grain (a “crosscut.”)

The cut will not result in separation of the cap stock and the core of the board.

The term “rip cut” comes from the experience of cutting traditional wood. When cut along the grain, where fissures in the wood already exist, the board would “rip” apart similar to an axe cut, but straighter.

While rip cuts on traditional wood could mean cutting some of the wood fibers and could result in less-than-clean lines, rip cuts on capped composite and capped polymer boards don’t run the same risk. Capped polymer boards contain no wood filler, and capped composite boards are engineered from majority recycled material, so you don’t have to worry about fibrous material making your cuts appear ragged.

When Do I Need to Rip Cut a Deck Board?

Your goal for a well-constructed, polished deck should be a board application that:

  • Maintains consistent spacing between boards (12″ to 16″ on center, depending on the board type, desired foot feel, and deck design).
  • Covers all the necessary surface area, hiding any substructure components or sawed ends you don’t want visible.

Rip cutting lets you customize the width of your deck board. That means the main reason you would rip cut your composite decking would be:

  • Fitting the fascia board to the outside rim board of the deck: It may be necessary to rip cut your TimberTech® AZEK®, PRO®, or EDGE® fascia board to fit the outside rim board of the deck. A slight overhang is permitted, with the goal being to hide the wood rim joist.
Rip Cut Detail TimberTech composite decking

What Kind of Tools Should I Use to Rip Cut?

You can use a sliding power miter saw, electric circular saw, or table saw to rip cut your composite deck boards. Don’t worry – the cut will not result in separation of the cap stock and the core of the board.

Rip cut table saw

Table Saw

Use a carbide-tipped blade with a minimum 60-tooth finish.


Electric Circular Saw

Use a minimum 60-tooth finish blade.

Rip Cutting Best Practices

  • Familiarize yourself with the different available cutting tools and how to safely operate your saw.
  • Always consult the appropriate installation guide for your TimberTech decking product and the manufacturer’s guide for your saw.
  • Most people prefer to start away from the house and work toward the house, so if you do need to rip cut that last board that touches your home, the cut edge is less visible at the house.

Your build deserves the best, so we recommend working with a TimberTech-registered contractor. Ensure your outdoor oasis is expertly constructed – from rip cuts to fasteners and beyond.

Bring the Beauty of TimberTech to Your Backyard

Work with one of our registered contractors for a build that transforms your outdoor living space.

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