How to Install Decking


Enjoying the backyard is a little nicer when you're on a deck, and, if you've built it yourself, you can appreciate it even more. The job must be done properly, or you'll have invested a lot of time and money in an eyesore. Fortunately, installing decking is not that complicated. According to research conducted by, "about 80 percent of homeowners who install decks use real wood." Alternatives to real-wood planks include plastic, composite or aluminum decking boards which may require different methods of installation than wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Framing square
  • Hammer
  • 3-inch hot-dipped galvanized nails
  • Circular saw (preferable) or wood saw
  • Chalk line
  • Wood decking of choice
  • Measure down the length of your joists at each end of the deck framing. Make marks every four feet, and pop a chalk line across the length of the deck. Reference these marks periodically to insure your decking is staying in square. Decking will run perpendicularly across the joists.

  • Place each board bark side down on your joists. According to the Tennessee Forest Products Center, placing the boards with the "growth rings curving upwards" can increase the "longevity" of your deck.

  • Square the first board at one end of the deck. For decks connected to standing structures, butt one end of your decking tightly against the structure. Allow any ends of the board to extend past the finished section of framing by at least one inch. Excess material can be cut after all decking is installed.

  • Hammer two nails, through the deck board, into each joist.

  • Place kiln-dried deck boards roughly 1/8 of an inch apart, about the width of a 16 penny nail. This will allow the material to expand. For materials not kiln dried, butt the boards tightly; they will shrink over time, opening up a gap.

  • Pop a chalk line down the outside edge after installing the last board. Allow at least one inch of overhang past the finished area below the decking. Cut this line with the circular saw.

  • Stain or seal the deck with an appropriate, outdoor wood sealer. This will decrease the effects of weathering on your deck.

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  • Photo Credit Deck de madeira image by CarlosNeto from deck image by Albert Lozano from
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