Build a top notch deck

Five strategies for DIY deck-building

By Steve Maxwell


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Durable decks are more difficult to build than they look. That’s why it pays to take the time to incorporate top-notch construction details into your next deck project. They’re going to cost you a little more time and money up front, which is why few deck-builders bother. But the fact is you can easily add 10 to 20 years of life to your structure if you do things right, all while enjoying a deck that looks better and is easier to maintain. Diligence is always a good design.

1. End-Spaced Deck Boards

End-spacing is a key water-control detail. Wherever floorboards touch each other end to end, you’re sure to foster premature rot. What else would you expect when thirsty end-grain surfaces come together and hold water between them long after rains stop? The solution is to install deck boards so they meet only over double joists spaced about 1/2″ apart. This detail allows the ends of neighbouring deck boards to be spaced apart between 1/8″ to 3/16″, with a free drainage zone underneath. By allowing vulnerable areas of the wood to dry quickly like this, rot doesn’t have the same easy start.

There are two hassles to this system. Besides having to install two joists every so often instead of one, you’re restricted in where you can locate deck-board joints. The best way around this problem is to predetermine deck- board lengths that allow joints to occur in sync with your double-joist locations.



TOP: 1/8″ to 3/16″ end space

SIDE: 1/2″ joint space

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