Deck Boards Done Right
Keep an eye on the stringline, and have a handful of spacers and a board straightener within easy reach.
When it comes to decks, Mike Guertin has built enough of them to make it look easy. In this article, he outlines the basic process he uses to build a deck. Guertin’s first step is to protect the deck’s joists because even pressure-treated wood can be vulnerable to rot. He also prefers to work from the rim toward the house, which allows him to be sure that full-width boards are placed at the posts, where they are most visible. Guertin uses deck spacers to keep the deck-board layout even, and he is sure to use blocking to support the decking if it changes direction. This article includes a sidebar on the advantages to using an auto-feed screw gun for deck work and a sidebar on board straighteners.
On the face of it, building a deck looks like an easy project, and for the most part, it is. There are lots of ways to plan and install deck boards, and it seems as if I’ve tried most of them. Over the years, I’ve refined a process that works for me. Depending on the deck, I might vary the process a bit, but for the most part, I follow the same practice: Order deck boards, manage joint layout, lay down boards with correct spacing, and attach the decking with neatly aligned screws. At each step, I try to work efficiently because it’s easy to get bogged down if you’re not careful.
First, protect the joists
I used to assume that pressure-treated deck joists would last forever, but they can rot, especially boards made of incised hem-fir or Douglas fir whose treatment penetration doesn’t reach the core of the lumber. Deck fasteners act as wedges and split the joist tops. This splitting might not occur initially if…