Decking Installation Tips | Hardwood, Composite Deck Installation

Installing your own deck can be a rewarding experience. Here are a few tips and tricks we have assembled to help make your installation successful.

Moisture Content, Acclimation | Preventing Movement After Install

If your are installing a wood deck, it is critical that your decking material is near the final moisture content before starting to install. Most of our hardwood products are kiln dried down to 10-12% moisture content (MC), which is ideal and does not require additional acclimation time on the job site. We also sell air dried (AD) Ipe which does require acclimation for up to two weeks, depending on the starting moisture content. Air dried products can range from 10% MC all the way up to 25% MC. Using a moisture meter is great way to determine starting MC.

Shrinkage and Swelling Considerations

Shinkage will be very minimal if installing kiln dried hardwood material or air dried material which has been fully acclimated down to 10% MC. Generally, only the dryest condition will cause shrinkage - such as installing in the high desert areas in Oregon. We generally recommend a full 1/4" between 1x6 or 5/4x6 boards, and 3/16" between 1x4 or 5/4x4 deck boards. If installing in a very dry environment, you should plan to use a 1/16" smaller gap between boards. If you are installing air dried material with a starting MC around 18%, then we recommend 1/8" between boards. Your will get shrinkage of up to to 1/8", possibly even 3/16", with air dried material. The longer you let it acclimate, the less movement you will get after installation.

Hidden Fasteners vs. Screws through the Face

Although there are many different hidden fastener systems which all claim to work well, we always recommend screwing through the face with 2 screws per joist connecion with each board. Screwing through the face is the most reliable and least expensive way to install a hardwood deck.

Hidden Fastening Systems

If you prefer a hidden fastener system, we recommend the Eb-Ty Live Cylinder with 1/4" built in spacing, or the Lumber Loc Hidden Deck Fastener. Both of these clips allow for expansion of close to 3/16" in width.

In terms of fasteners, we recommend only stainless steel hardware. There are many finish head screws available, some of which are even painted to minimize the visual impact when installing with screws through the face. Our favorite brand is from Swan Secure, now part of Simpson Strong-Tie. For composite decking installations, see the links above for composite specific products.

Duckback Finish from SuperDeck | Oil Finishes

The best finish we have found is Duckback from SuperDeck. We carry both the natural and walnut exotic hardwood oil finish. Our preference for ease of maintenance is the Duckback walnut oil which adds some brown pigment to the mix in order to help protect the wood's natural color from UV exposure. We estimate that the walnut oil finish will outlast the clear finish by one to two years. See the web site for more information.

Bow Wrench | Straightening Boards | How to Straighten a Board

When dealing with crooked boards, we recommend using a Bow Wrench. This tool allows the installer to easily take out up to 1" of side bend. We have these tools in stock. Check out the Cepco Tool BowWrench web site for more information.

Uncle Hilde's Flooring Showroom

Serving southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts: Seabrook, Tilton, Manchester, Nashua, Concord, Laconia, Plymouth, Franklin, Hookset, Derry, Londonderry, Milford, Litchfield, Lowell, Lawrence, Andover, Methuen, Billerica, Pepperell

Merrimack County | Belknap County | Hillsborough County | Rockingham County | Strafford County | Carrol County | Grafton County

Click here to see our locations page for more details