How to Lay Deck Boards

Deck boards come available in either wood or composite choices. While the care and installation for either materials varies, how you lay out the boards remains the same. Properly laying out deck boards can make your decking consistently even, and it prevents you from having to start from scratch when you undertake the job without proper preparation.

Things You'll Need

  • 16 penny nails


    • 1

      Lay out deck boards perpendicular to the joists, starting from the house wall and working outwards.

    • 2

      Set the first board against the house wall. Push it all the way in to hit the sheathing.

    • 3

      Set the boards with the ends hanging over the edge once you have set the first two boards. This will save time because you can cut all of the boards at one time after you finish setting them.

    • 4

      Place 16 penny nails between boards to establish proper gaps when using dry boards. If using wet boards, butt them together without any gap as they will shrink when they dry, providing for an adequate gap between the boards.

    • 5

      Stop periodically and measure to the front of the deck at both ends of the last board you laid to verify that the spacing is equal. If it is not equal, increase or decrease the board gap slightly as you lay out more boards.

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  • Photo Credit deck image by Albert Lozano from

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