How-To Videos

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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9 Comments on “How to Install Wood Deck Boards”

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  • Reny Says:
    September 17th, 2018 at 10:45 am

    How to screw the end of treated 2 x4 flooring of my 12×20′ patio deck ?

  • Tisha Says:
    August 2nd, 2018 at 9:06 am

    I am currently adding a screened in patio room approx. 46ft long & 12 ft wide. W/ 2 more multi level decks cascading down b/c back yard goes down a hill. So far it’s beautiful but I have some concerns. On the patio room which is still considered a deck by contractor. Some of the boards have quite a bit of a gap between them, while majority seems to be normal spacing, but some of the boards that meet end to end are very flush & seem to smash to close once they were screwed down. Should I ask them to replace the boards installed to tight (end to end) & should I request the boards w/ too much of a gap between them to be corrected & installed closesly together? Like the majority are and what I feel like should be expected by anyone & the proper way that a deck/patio room is made. I wanted to use it as an outdoor living space and all though it’s screened, we plan to place custom made pulldown shades on the windows to help block water when it rains or snows, so my expectations are to have a floor that is more solid & enclosed enough to reduce exposure to bugs, spiders or insects. As well as reduce the our exposure to the weather & outdoor temps at least as much as can be expected. I realize it’s not an all weather, but it can still function & utilizes year round as long as it is built in the proper manner w/ that in mind. We live in the country and tend to have quite a bit of wild animals, rodents, insects & bugs around. The deck/patio room has been a large investment and I just want to make sure that I’m being reasonable and my expectations aren’t too high & that the wide gaps & the end to end boards that seem to close or tight between aren’t going to take away from the life of my investment and cause me costly repairs down the road & likely in a short amount of time? Thanks!

  • Gary Says:
    July 24th, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    I have not built a deck before; therefore, I’m still learning. One thing I picked up was not to nail two deck boards (12′ & 8′, etc.) on the same deck joist…as this may causing future rotting in between. Why not demonstrated adding an additional joist, where to deck boards have to meet in order to get the desired length (20′, etc.)?

  • 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