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How to Install Wood Deck Boards

By: Danny Lipford

Building a wood deck makes a great DIY project for your home. Here are some tips when laying the deck boards.

  • When using pressure treated wood that’s still saturated with preservative, install the boards without a gap between them. As the wood dries, it will shrink, leaving a small gap between each board.
  • Orient the deck boards so the growth rings in the end grain have the arc facing up.
  • When nailing into the end of deck boards, turn the nail over and tap the point with a hammer to blunt the nail and prevent splitting.



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6 Comments on “How to Install Wood Deck Boards”

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  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    July 7th, 2018 at 11:52 pm

    Hi, Mary,

    Danny says, “The deck boards have to run perpendicular to the deck joists; however, additional blocking between the floor joists would allow you to turn them in the other direction.”

    Good luck!

  • Mary Says:
    March 21st, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    Does it matter which direction you place deck board? I am remodeling an old deck with new wood and the planks on it now are positioned with the ends butted to the house. I would like our new boards to run with the length of the house instead. Is this proper?

  • Amy Says:
    October 10th, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Funny, I just got off the phone with the contractor who redid our deck. They installed the planks cups side up. I didn’t really notice until after we got it seal and it rained, the cups have filled with water and now that it’s Fall it stands there for several days. Can’t be good.

  • g bishop Says:
    May 24th, 2017 at 10:48 am

    I know the arguments for “bark side up” (growth rings highest in center) vs “bark side down”. From my experience bark side up will cup, bark side down will flatten – so I will install with the growth rings arcing up on the ends.

  • Robert Nassif Sr. Says:
    March 25th, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    EXCELLENT Advise!!!

  • mike doyle Says:
    May 21st, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Regarding your direction to “Orient the deck boards so the growth rings in the end grain have the arc facing up”, Wouldn’t that method result in, in time, in making the deck have a ripple surface which also causes water to pool in the cups of the wood surface? Why would it not be better to put the cups down so the wood flattens over time?
    Thanks for your explanation.

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How to Install Wood Deck Boards