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Installing Decking

Project Overview

Installing Decking

Decking is usually 2x4, 2x6, or 5/4x6 boards installed on wide faces. There are several common installation patterns. The more complicated the decking pattern, the more important it is to do a dry run before you cut boards to lay out the angles and joints. Arrange boards with the fewest possible end-to-end seams, and stagger the seams for the best appearance. Find boards that are as straight as possible and return boards that are more than a little crooked. Buy about 10 percent more decking than you estimate is necessary to allow for returns and for cutting waste during installation.

9 Steps

  1. Measure the Deck
  2. Mark the First Board's Position
  3. Install Row 2
  4. Measure Again
  5. Put Crown Toward Previous Board
  1. Force End Into Position
  2. Lay Out Notch Around Post
  3. Put Cleat on Post
  4. Put in the Last Board
Show all steps »
Measure the Deck

Step 1

Measure the Deck

Measure between the outside of the header joist and the house at the top of the ledger. Do this at the centre and ends of the deck to determine whether the distances are equal. Mark each rim joist at a distance from the outside of the header joist equal to the width of one decking board. Make these marks at equal distances from the house. Note: Decking installation also can begin at the house with the final board attached to the header joist.

Mark the First Board's Position
Mark the First Board's Position

Step 2

Mark the First Board's Position

Snap a chalk line on the marks across the rim joists. Check to make sure this line is parallel to the house. Align the inside edge of the first length of decking with the chalk line, letting the ends of the decking extend wild (at uneven lengths) beyond the rim joist. Drive two fasteners through the board into the centre of each joist. Position each fastener 3/4 to 1 inch from the edge of the board.

Install Row 2
Install Row 2

Step 3

Install Row 2

Install the next row of boards. Position spacers for a 1/8-inch gap. Butt each board against the spacers before fastening. If you have to use more than one board per row, centre the ends over the joists. Drive fasteners through predrilled holes at the ends of boards. Predrilling prevents splitting of the wood by either screws or nails. Boards should meet at the centre of the joist. Angle each fastener toward the centre of the joist.

Measure Again
Measure Again

Step 4

Measure Again

Measure from the back edge of the third row of decking to the house at several spots. Boards may vary in width so the distances may not be equal (they frequently aren't). Use a pry bar to pull a board toward the spacers, if necessary. Stick the points of the long end of the pry bar into the joist with the bar against the edge of the board. Pull on the pry bar to force the board against the spacers.

Step 5

Put Crown Toward Previous Board

Install a slightly bowed board with the crown edge against the previously installed board. First position one end of the new board against the spacers. Drive two fasteners at the end of the board. Make certain the board is tightly against the spacers before driving the fasteners. Install fasteners in the last joist where the board is firmly against the spacer.

Force End Into Position

Step 6

Force End Into Position

Insert spacers along the remaining length of the board, force the far end into position, and attach it to the joist. Then drive fasteners at the remaining joist positions.

Lay Out Notch Around Post
Lay Out Notch Around Post

Step 7

Lay Out Notch Around Post

Mark notches around obstacles such as railing posts or legs for built-in benches. Position a board against the obstacle, aligning the board ends properly. Use a layout square to complete the outline. Cut the notch with a jigsaw. Make the cuts on the outside of the marked lines to provide room for a good fit around the obstacle and still leave a little space for drainage and expansion. Cut from both directions into the notch corners to make square corners.

Put Cleat on Post
Put Cleat on Post

Step 8

Put Cleat on Post

Install a 2x4 nailing cleat to support the edge of the notched board. Make the cleat from pressure-treated wood for durability. Test-fit the notched board, enlarging the notch, if necessary, by trimming small amounts of material with a jigsaw or chisel. Then attach the board with fasteners driven into joists and nailing cleats.

Put in the Last Board
Put in the Last Board

Step 9

Put in the Last Board

Measure the space at both ends of the last row and rip the last board to fit, if necessary. Rip the board 1/4 inch narrower than the measurement to leave a 1/8-inch gap between the board and the siding to prevent trapping moisture. Crosscut the board so it will be flush with the rim joists on both ends. The last row can't be cut in place because the wall prevents a saw from completing the cut. Use the end of the last decking board (that was cut to length before installing) and the corner of the deck at the header as reference points and snap a chalk line between them. Trim the decking on the chalk line with a circular saw. Set the saw to the proper depth so it goes through the boards.

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Project Details

Skill Level: Beginner

Time: 3 hours

Before you start, read this »

Due to differing conditions, tools, and individual skills, The Home Depot® assumes no responsibility for any damages, injuries suffered, or losses incurred as a result of attempting to replicate any of the home improvement ideas portrayed in this website Before beginning any home improvement project, review it thoroughly to ensure you or your contractor can finish the project and if any doubts or questions remain, consult local experts or authorities. Because codes and regulations vary greatly, you always should check with authorities to ensure that your project complies with all applicable local codes and regulations. Always read and observe all of the safety precautions provided by any tool or equipment manufacturer, and follow all accepted safety procedures.

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