Wood Decks That Last

When wood decking is installed, the gaps between the deck boards should be sized according to their moisture content at the time of installation. Kiln-dried decking will require wider gaps than wet lumber.

End cuts and bolt holes in pressure-treated decking and framing should always be re-treated with a wood preservative prior to installation. Sealing the ends of the boards with a penetrating oil will help block moisture absorption through the end grain, which will limit cracking and checking.

Even though the bark side of this decking has a knot, it should still be installed facing toward the weather.

Some decking might initially look better with the bark side down, but eventually water can get under the grain and lift it, causing the board to peel.

To provide a stronger connection, the author often uses exterior construction adhesive when installing T&G or shiplap porch flooring.

After installation, the author protects wood decking from rain and construction damage with a layer of plastic. The interlocking rubber mats provide additional impact protection and limit UV exposure.

Wood decking installed with small trim-head screws will eventually start to cup, which lifts the decking and breaks the screws. The #10 deck screws the author prefers have a wide heads to hold the boards down. Cutting knives on the underside help countersink the screw heads, which prevents splitting.

A worker fastens the author’s custom-milled shiplap porch flooring to the framing with 2 1/2-inch-long stainless steel staples. This area will later be enclosed with a screened porch, so the joints between boards need to be tight to keep insects out.

When the deck design requires hidden fasteners, the author uses Grabber’s Deckmaster brackets, which are available in both powder-coated (shown) and stainless steel versions.

Easing the edges and ends of the decking with a 1/2-inch-diameter round-over bit helps prevent splinters from forming, while a final sanding removes mill marks. As soon as possible after completion, the author will seal the deck with a penetrating stain or water-repellent finish.

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