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How to Install Decking

Oct 15, 2007
The process of installing decking boards is the most satisfying part of the construction process of building a deck. The work proceeds quickly because most of the layout work will have been completed at this stage. Generally the decking can be applied in one day especially if a helper is available to provide assistance.

Take the time to sort through the stack of deck boards and select which side will be up for each piece. Discard any boards with bad cracks, twists or other damage. If there are different lengths of boards to be used, stack them accordingly so it will be easy to find them when needed.

Where the decking boards are long enough they can run over the outer joist and be trimmed later. Wherever a board end needs to be butted it is wiser to wait to see how the board falls on the joist and make the cuts at that time rather than make the cuts ahead of time. It is important that the butted boards join in the center of the joist.

Lay out 10 or 12 boards on the deck as they will go down with the lengths positioned to stagger butt joints. This will keep the work moving and provided a temporary surface on which to stand or kneel.

For decking the runs parallel to the house, select a straight board and cut it to length making sure to allow for the overhang. Measure out from the house at both ends of the run and mark the width of the decking board plus 1/2 inch to leave a drainage gap. Snap a chalk line or string a line between the end marks.

If the house wall bows in or out it may be necessary to increase the gap margin. Avoid twisting the board to conform to the house wall, otherwise the decking boards will not be straight. For decking butted to the house, follow the same basic procedure.

In situations where a diagonal pattern is being installed, begin with a straight board at least 6 feet long and set it on a 45 degree angle by measuring equal distances from the starting corner. Before fastening it measure from the center of the board to the corner to avoid ending up with a tiny pice of wood in the corner.

If a parquet pattern of decking is to be installed, keep track of what is happening with boards running in both directions by tacking at least 4 starter boards in place. Measure carefully to ensure that all of the decking boards come out right. Then drive the nails or screws into place.

With complex patterns it is wise to layout decking boards to see how the pattern will fall on the framing. With a herringbone pattern it is very important to account for all the repeats. In most cases, it looks best to use a pattern of full boards centred on the deck and equal sized partial lengths where the pattern meets the edges.

When fastening decking boards it is important that the long end hangs over far enough to be trimmed squarely. For angled, herringbone and parquet designs it will be necessary to measure and cut as the installation process goes.

Fasteners such as nails or screws can be used to locate the boards in place initially and then the rest can be nailed or screwed into place later once all the decking boards have been put down. This is a more time effiecient method of decking installation.

Use a nail as a spacer. Simply hold the nail against the last fastened board and tap it lightly with a hammer to hold it as you set the next board into position. Then simply remove the spacer nail and tap it into place to install the next decking board.

Drive a pair of nails or screws where each deck board crosses a joist about 3/4 to 1 inch in from the edge. Professionals drive the nails or screws straight in to leave a flat head on the surface. For appearance sake, snap a chalk line to keep the nails or screws in a perfectly straight line.

With screws predrill near the ends of all deck boards to avoid splitting. If a crack starts to open while working on a butt joint, remove the screw, increase the pilot hole size and then fasten the screw in place.

Deck clips or continuous deck fasteners are available to allow fastening decking from below with no visible screw or nail heads. They are more expensive and take more time to install. The important thing is that there is enough room to work on the deck from below.

There are several types available. The most common and most efficient is a perforated L-shaped strip. The idea is to screw through 1 side to fasten the hardware to the joist and through the other to fasten the decking board to the hardware.

It is important to check every fourth or fifth board to check for straightness. Simply measure back to the starting board at several points to see that the boards will continue to be square to the frame.

Once all the boards are installed and completely fastened in place, it is simply a matter of snapping a chalk line at the outer edge of the decking and making the cut to trim the outer edge of the deck.

Installing decking is not brain surgery. Tt is a simple process that simply involves careful measurement, precise cutting and the strategic placement and fastening of the boards that will make up the surface of this wonderful outdoor structure.
About the Author
Richard Vande Sompel is a professional deck builder of 35 years and over 850
decks built and is the author of "How to Plan, Design and Build a Deck from
Start to Finish". To Discover More About
Installing Decking and Claim your 2
FREE Deck Plans, Insider Report, MP3 Audio and discover everything to know about
building a deck visit:
http://www.DeckBuildingRevealed.com
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