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- Samar Bolis

The Best Way to Lay a Wooden Deck Floor

Laying a wooden deck floor is not as difficult as many believe. It’s simply a series of individual boards installed perpendicular to the deck’s floor joists. Typical deck boards are 2-by-6 Redwood or composite decking. Both types are fastened at each joist with deck screws. Many lumber yards and home centers deliver decking materials for a nominal fee. Laying a wooden deck floor provides the do-it-yourself enthusiast an opportunity to learn and apply basic carpentry skills.

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How to Lay wooden deck floor

Preparation and Layout

  1. Measure the distance across the deck, from the outer edge of the joist at one side to the outer edge of the joist at the opposite side. Take the measurement at the edge of the deck that attaches to the house. For a free-standing deck, measure across one end of the wooden deck floor’s framework where the ends of the joists attach to the outer rim.
  2. Select one or more pieces of 2-by-6-inch, redwood or composite decking for the first row at the edge of the deck. For decks less than 10 feet across, use a full-length piece for the first row. For larger decks, select two pieces that butt together end to end atop a joist that’s near the midpoint of the deck, from side to side. For example, if the deck is 20 feet across, the pieces butt together atop a joist that’s closest to the 10-foot measurement from either side.
  3. Place a full-length starter piece of decking flat atop the joists and align one end with the outer edge of the first joist at one side. Where two starter pieces are needed, align the end of the first piece atop the center of the joist near the midpoint. Position the long edge of the piece against the face of the house, or align the outer edge with the outer edge of the rim on a free-standing deck.
  4. Set up a power drill with a screw-tip attachment. Attach the starter piece with two, 3-inch deck screws at each joist. The screws are 1-inch from the corresponding edges of the board. Repeat the procedure and install the remaining starter board on a deck wider than 10-feet.

Installation and Trimming of Wooden Deck Floor

  1. Measure the width of a deck board. Typically, 2-by-6 boards are 5 1/2-inches wide. Redwood boards are installed with a 1/4-inch gap between the long edges for moisture expansion. Composite decking is installed edge to edge or with a gap, if desired for a particular deck design.
  2. Measure from the inner edge of the starter board at each end and mark the tops of the corresponding joists 5 3/4-inches from the edge of the board. Snap a chalk line between the marks and across the tops of the joists as a reference for the second row of decking.
  3. Place a deck board flat atop the joists and align one end with one edge of the deck as before. Align the inner edge with the chalk line to create the 1/4-inch gap between the boards. Where two boards are used for a row, align the innermost edges of each atop the center of a joist that’s either side of the midpoint joist. This is known as staggering the joints where two boards butt together end to end. Attach the second row of decking with a pair of screws at each joist as before.
  4. Continue to snap chalk lines and install each row of decking one at a time to cover the deck. Where the ends of boards overhang either edge of the deck, snap chalk lines that coincide with the edge of the deck from end to end and cut the lines with a circular saw that’s fitted with a fine-tooth blade.

Things You Will Need

  • Measuring tape
  • 2-by-6-inch deck boards
  • Circular saw with fine-tooth blade
  • Power or cordless drill
  • Screw-tip attachment
  • 3-inch deck screws
  • Chalk line


  • Consult an experienced installer or contractor regarding cutting the butt ends of adjoining boards at opposite angles to improve the appearance of the wooden deck floor.
  • Where flashing is installed at the intersection of the deck framing and house, apply a generous amount of exterior sealant along the flashing before installing the starter boards.
  • Where handrail posts are in place, mark the cutouts for the posts on the corresponding piece of decking with a builder’s square and carpenter’s pencil. Cut the lines with a handsaw.


  • Always wear eye protection when cutting deck boards with a power saw.

Wooden Deck Floor


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