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Old 05-28-2013, 08:45 AM   #1
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Default Decking board spacing

It's a common idea that decking boards need to be spaced to some extent, especially on decks close to the ground, to allow moisture to escape.

Is there some industry standard on this as far as how wide to space treated decking boards? I've searched on this topic, but have yet to find specs that apply specificity to spacing.

I finished some decks recently where the boards were hardly spaced at all, and I was thinking of mentioning this to the contractor as a potential problem. But is this idea of proper spacing a set standard practice or just an idea?
Anyone know where to find these specs if they exist?
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:07 AM   #2
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Alway slam them tight and as the pt wood dries it will open up. I've built hundreds of decks and never had a problem.
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:20 AM   #3
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Most builders that I'm aware of use wet treated lumber and butt them tight against one another. When they dry they shrink and gaps open up. The problem is some shrink more than others so the gaps aren't too even, and the butt joints also open up making for a less than ideal looking deck.

Whenever I reboard a deck I use kiln dried treated wood and space to 1/4 inch. As the boards gain moisture the gap closes to about 3/16 to 1/8, and the butt joints remain tight, plus the wood is usually of a better grade than the wet treated, plus you don't have to wait months to stain it.
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:26 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bodean614 View Post
Alway slam them tight and as the pt wood dries it will open up. I've built hundreds of decks and never had a problem.


You may be building hundreds but I bet you are not back there in the years to come to restore them. I done wooden decks that actually pond because the boards swell together. If they get to where they are not draining I've even run the saw up every other board to allow the water to drain and ventilation. If they are not cleaned regularly or cared for they will swell shut.
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:33 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonyg View Post


You may be building hundreds but I bet you are not back there in the years to come to restore them. I done wooden decks that actually pond because the boards swell together. If they get to where they are not draining I've even run the saw up every other board to allow the water to drain and ventilation. If they are not cleaned regularly or cared for they will swell shut.
Tony, I've thought about sawing the gaps too but I've always worried about the builder toe nailing/screwing the boards to straighten them and tearing up the saw blade. How does the deck look after doing this? I would think you'd see the slightly wavy kerf and sharp edges on the boards.
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:38 AM   #6
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The deck pictured in the op is 18 months old. There is no space at all between most boards, also part of it is less than 2 feet from the ground and boxes in as well.
Moisture trapped under a deck is never good.
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doctors11 View Post
Tony, I've thought about sawing the gaps too but I've always worried about the builder toe nailing/screwing the boards to straighten them and tearing up the saw blade. How does the deck look after doing this? I would think you'd see the slightly wavy kerf and sharp edges on the boards.
I haven't had a problem when I have done it before. The nails were usually disintegrated anyway.

This deck had 2in of water covering 2/3 of the deck. It also leaned into the vinyl sided house while retaining water.
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Old 05-28-2013, 10:12 AM   #8
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Quote:
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I haven't had a problem when I have done it before. The nails were usually disintegrated anyway.

This deck had 2in of water covering 2/3 of the deck. It also leaned into the vinyl sided house while retaining water.
That's awesome. Did you just carefully follow the gaps with you blade? What kind of sanders did you use? I'm working on a 4 year old deck right now that was built with kiln dry lumber BUT the boards were pushed tight against one another when new. As they gained moisture they got even tighter. I'll be sanding off the old Arborcoat stain which never stood a chance but don't really know what to suggest as water pools there all the time. Maybe now is the time to cut some grooves?
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Old 05-28-2013, 03:07 PM   #9
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I use the thickness of a framing square to gap them.
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Old 05-28-2013, 03:26 PM   #10
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I believe a 3/8" gap is what BM stain seminars recommend
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Old 05-28-2013, 04:36 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeanV View Post
I believe a 3/8" gap is what BM stain seminars recommend
That seems like a honkin' big gap. Nobody does PT decks around here, it's redwood, cedar, or ipe' if it's wood. The most common spacing seems to be that of a 16d duplex nail.
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Old 05-28-2013, 04:49 PM   #12
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They said if you can't fit a regular number two pencil between the boards it is too tight
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Old 05-28-2013, 04:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeanV View Post
They said if you can't fit a regular number two pencil between the boards it is too tight
That looks to be about 1/4" I think. The only problem with the wider gap seems to be women's high heels getting caught. I think having the boards not gapped enough leads to all kinds of problems because of the sort of pooling that has already been mentioned.
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Old 05-28-2013, 05:26 PM   #14
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also,it would be nice if the carpenters actually paid attention to the growth rings of wood,so that when the wood dries out the wood will cup downwards,and not upwards to hold a board full of water.
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Old 05-28-2013, 05:34 PM   #15
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Quote:
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also,it would be nice if the carpenters actually paid attention to the growth rings of wood,so that when the wood dries out the wood will cup downwards,and not upwards to hold a board full of water.
Would that it were so simple:

http://www.finehomebuilding.com/item...bark-side-down
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Old 05-28-2013, 06:34 PM   #16
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Hah. BM also said to so the crown so annual rings curve upward, like a smiley face. When the wood shrinks, it is supposed to ensure water does pool so it crowns properly. The grain will pull down and leave the middle of the board high.
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Old 05-28-2013, 10:40 PM   #17
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When I had my house redone, they built a deck with the boards touching. I agree it sucks and now I don know what to do with it. I'm afraid sawing between them will be removing the salt treating or copper treating preservative.
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:24 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1camper View Post
When I had my house redone, they built a deck with the boards touching. I agree it sucks and now I don know what to do with it. I'm afraid sawing between them will be removing the salt treating or copper treating preservative.
How old is it? If it's less than 6 months give it more time to dry and shrink.
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:53 AM   #19
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If it doesn't shrink you could always drill small relief holes between the boards where its ponding. A plunge router might be neater than freehand.
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