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Decking Installation Guide

How To Install Hardwood Decking

When building an exterior deck, you should consult your local building codes office and obtain any required permits before starting your project.

Before installation, you’ll want to store your hardwood decking wood in a place that avoids weather exposure and direct sunlight until you are ready to install. It is important to know whether your wood is Kiln Dried or Air Dried, as each requires different handling and storage procedures. *All of our decking is kiln dried.

Kiln Dried Decking: has a moisture content of 12 - 14% and is ready for installation upon delivery. Keep covered with a tarp to avoid exposure to the sun and elements. It is ideal to keep the hardwood decking package off the ground by supporting it on pieces of lumber to keep it elevated.

Air Dried Decking: needs to acclimate to approximately 18% moisture content at the location of your project, prior to installation. To do this, calibrate a Moisture Meter to your precise wood species.

Decking Material Application

Kiln Dried Decking Wood:

4”—set spacing between boards at 3/16”

6”—set spacing between boards between 1/8" and 5/32”

Maximum movement, shrinkage, or swelling:

4”—1/8" up to 1/4"

6”—1/8" up to 1/4"
Proper spacing between boards allows air to circulate, enabling room for expansion while the boards are reach full seasoning.

Start by first checking building codes for local regulations of joist spacing.

The following are typical spans:
1x4 — 1x6 Decking: use joists on 16” centers
5/4x4 — 5/4x6 Decking: use joists on 24” centers
Installing on an angle: use joists on 12” centers

The surface of your deck should be at least 16” above ground to generate enough air circulation under the deck to prevent the boards from cupping and warping. When your deck is over water or in particularly wet areas, allow additional clearance. A vapor barrier is necessary when deck installation is under 16” above ground to avoid moisture absorption on the decks underside.

Two stainless steel screws per joist is the best fastening option to avoid discoloration at the site of the fastener. While self-tapping stainless screws are available, they may require pre-drilling, which is required on the ends of boards.

While hidden fasteners may be more aesthetically pleasing, it is a less effective method opposed to screwing through the face of your deck. You may even feel involuntary movement from your deck boards. If you still insist on using hidden fasteners, ensure that proper ventilation and vapor barriers are used.

End Sealing is a common practice during manufacturing to avoid splitting and checking on the ends of boards. A clear, water-resistant wax, such as our Ipe Seal should be used. Remember to end seal again soon after cutting, which is also required under the manufacturer’s warranties. If neglected, it could nullify your warranty.

Because T&G exterior applications don’t allow spacing for ventilation, we recommend installing with a pitch in a covered environment, referring to your local building codes and pitch requirements. Be sure to finish boards on all six sides to prevent moisture accumulation on the deck’s underside. Use stainless steel fasteners.

A water sealant can be used when you want your wood to develop into a natural silver color, whereas an oil finish with UV inhibitors should be used when you are trying to maintain the wood’s natural color.


  • Crosscut: good quality chop saw with a carbide-tipped blade
  • Ripping: standard table saw, using a well-aligned fence and carbide-tipped blade
  • Drilling: highest quality drill bits
  • Screwing through the face: countersink bit with a positive stop helps maintain a consistent depth
  • Fasteners: lubricate for easier assembly. Pre-drilling is a good way to avoid fasteners sinking too deeply into the wood
  • Routing or Planing: high speed steel or carbide cutters using moderately slow feed speeds

Safety Glasses and Dust Mask: should always be worn as a safety precaution when working with lumbar. Injuries and allergic reactions may occur. Inhaling wood dust has been known to cause cancer. An active carbon filter dust mask is your best defense.

Pressure washing is a great way to keep your deck clean and to remove surface discoloration between oil treatments, but be careful to use a low pressure setting so that you don’t split the wood or strip the color.

While we use the finest quality Brazilian hardwoods that are carefully manufactured and inspected, natural wood products are subject to variations in color, density, weight, grain and performance. Environmental issues such as moisture and humidity contribute to wood fluctuations. Checking, swelling and shrinkage occurs normally with aging.