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Laying out deck boards

HI - I have a deck that is in desparate need of replacing the deck boards.  I've inspected the structure and it looks excellent.   

The deck is 21 ft 2 inches by 20 ft.   The joists are on the on the 20 ft side meaning i need to accmodate 21ft 2 inch boards.  The current boards are staggered 12 or 9ish ft boards that are butted up each other.   I think it looks terrible and the ends are all splitting because two boards share the same joist.

I was thinking of doing a 8 ft boards then do two boards perpendicular (i would have to do some kind of blocks between the joints) and then 12 ft boards.   I've attached a crude drawing of what i'm thinking.  

Anyway, do you think this will work or more importantly, do you have any other suggestions !



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Posted 2012-03-21T01:05:41+0000  by vascoeagles vascoeagles

Hello vascoeagles, and welcome to the community!


My first suggestion would be to use 5/4 x 6 x 22' decking, the wood you choose is up to you, if your store doesn't have it in stock they can order it for you. By using continuous decking boards you not only reduce the chance of splitting, but you increase the appearance of the deck.


My next suggestion would be to use CAMO Marksman Pro Hidden Deck Fastening System. The CAMO Hidden Deck Fastening System is the first hidden fastening system that easily and affordably attaches treated lumber, hardwood, cedar, composite or PVC deckboards directly to the substructure creating a beautiful, fastener-free deck surface. 


Check out this video on how the CAMO system works in action!




Posted 2012-03-22T15:51:41+0000  by Angelo_HD_CHI

Typically, if you're going to have butt joints on your deck boards, you want to stagger those joints randomly so they don't form a pattern. Tangelo makes a good suggestion about using longer deck boards so there is no joint at all. The only caveat would be that longer board are more prone to twisting and warping as they dry. You want to make sure you're there when they deliver them so you can sticker them properly. Why? Because when the wood is delivered, it will mostly likely be "wet" with the pressure treating chemicals. As the wood dries, the outer areas of the wood exposed will dry at a different rate than the inner portions. Think of a bi-metal thermostat or a piece of bacon in the pan as you cook it. Stickering your wood is the solution to keeping your boards straight and usable.


To do that, you'll want to start on a flat surface, something like your garage floor or carport. Place some concrete blocks down every 2-3 feet. Lay out your first row of boards keeping them separated an in or so. Next, you're going to want to place in some 1x2 or 2x4 across that first row. These are your stickers. You'll then stack another row on top of the stickers. Repeat the stickers / row of deck boards process until you have all the boards stacked. Finally, place some more concrete blocks on top to hold it all down.


Should look something like this:



You'll want to do a week or two in advance of actually using the wood. This will give the wood a chance to "dry" evenly. Also make sure you order a bit more than you'll actually need so that you can accommodate any undesirable pieces.


There are alternatives to pressure treated boards, but they come at a cost. Redwood is a great alternative, its shrinking and swelling is minimal in moisture prone areas and it resists cupping, warping and checking better than PT wood. Another wood that is seeing a lot of use in deck boards is called Ipe (pronounced E-pay). Air-dried Ipe is recommended for decking applications, kiln-dried is for interior work. It is extremely hard. It resists insects and rot without the use of chemicals. You can expect at least a 50-100 year lifespan with very little maintenance. Ipe has a grain that naturally makes it slip resistant, while making it also resistant to scratches and slivers. All this comes at an extreme cost. Your deck boards will be more expensive than the rest of the deck combined. On the plus side, you'll never have to replace a deck board and will only have to oil it every other year or so.


Hope this helps...

Posted 2012-03-25T13:56:30+0000  by Paul

Hey vascoeagles,


Tangelo and Paul are on the ball here; they are giving you some sound advice. I especially like Tangelos suggestion on using long boards – that would be my first choice as well.


Couple suggestions I wanted to chime in with;


Consider building a border (picture frame type of design) around the perimeter of the deck to conceal board ends and reduce total length of the boards.

 picture frame.JPG



With this design you would need 20’ foot long boards.

Twenty footers are considered stock size and are much easier to find than 22’ footers. Also it is easier to work with and transport shorter boards.


Installation tips for treated decking;



Nail bark side up - always nail boards bark side up (annual rings arc upward) to reduce cupping.



Butt boards tightly as drying occurs, noticeable shrinkage can be expected ,and also always drill pilot holes, especially when nailing near the edge or end of the board.


Hope this helps.



Posted 2012-03-26T14:30:47+0000  by George_HD_CHI

If you don't want to deal with the angled blocking for the mitered corners, you can do a similar design such as this:



From underneath you'd have something like this:


You will still need blocking between the other joists, but this is just to illustrate how you'd do the 3 boards on each end.

Posted 2012-03-27T02:20:41+0000  by Paul
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