Avoiding Common Mistakes When Building a Hardwood Deck

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Most people who choose hardwood decking for their deck love the natural look of real wood. Because they know how long that hardwood decking is likely to last, many of these wood decking lovers are also willing to spend a little bit more money on beautiful hardwood decking up front. Hardwood decking users are most often rewarded with a beautiful deck that will last beautifully for many decades. Avoiding some common pitfalls will prevent mistakes and lead to long term satisfaction with your deck.

We live by the old adage “Proper Prior ipe-built-in-furniture-bench-and-ipe-plantersPlanning Prevents Poor Performance.” When planning your new deck for long term beauty and enjoyment, it really pays off to do some proper prior planning. The key factors you will want to consider include; species of decking material, planned uses for your deck, proper ventilation below the deck structure and the best deck board sizes to use with your particular fastening method.

The species of hardwood decking material you choose will be based on the look and usage of your deck and whatever other criteria that is important to you. Whether you decide on Ipe decking, Garapa decking, Cumaru decking or FSC Certified Machiche decking, there are hardwood decking species to meet your project needs and decking budget. It is interesting to note that hardwood decking lasts so much longer than other decking materials, that even though the decking may sometimes cost more than some less durable decking options, the life cycle costs are significantly less costly than other decking material options.  For a wealth of helpful information about selecting the right decking material, please download our acclaimed white paper, The Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Right Decking Material.”


Decks serve such a wide variety of functions for different people, it is important to consider exactly what type of activities ipe-rooftop-deckand usage you plan for your new deck.  For example, if you have lots of pets, you may want to use scratch resistant decking, if you have a fire pit on your deck, you probably want to consider fire resistant decking material, if you plan to have a hot tub on your deck, you will need significantly more deck joists and probably want a more slip resistant decking material. Please take your time and choose the deck material that will work best for you.


Adequate drainage and proper ventilation below your deck is critical for long term satisfaction and performance of your deck.  Whenever cool, dark moisture is trapped under the deck and sunlight and hot dry conditions occur on top of the deck, bad things happen. Moisture and sunlight are the most powerful forces working against exterior decking boards. If decks are built too close to the ground, moisture is almost always trapped somewhere. Trapped moisture can promote mold growth and encourage decay of the decking and entire deck structure. Over the years, we have seen countless sad examples of inadequately ventilated decks failing to meet the needs of the deck owners over the long run. Insufficient deck ventilation is the major cause of deck board failure or dissatisfaction with both synthetic and natural deck boards.   


Deciding on the type of fastener for your deck boards is a much more important decision than most people realize.  Choosing the best deck fastener for your deck depends on many factors, including; how high above garapa-decking-with-custom-railing-designthe ground your deck is situated, how much ventilation is under your deck, how much traffic your deck will receive and more. Hidden fasteners and deck screws each have their own benefits. Hidden fasteners keep the surface of the deck looking cleaner and sleeker but are not as strong as a decking screw through the face of a deck board.

A deck screw, on the other hand, usually provides the strongest fastening method, but they are usually more visible. As a general rule of thumb, if your deck is going to be 30” above the ground or less, we would suggest that you consider the benefits of thicker deck boards (5/4”), narrower deck boards (4”) and deck screws or all three (5/4 x 4 deck boards with screws). Choosing the best fastener for your deck will lead to more enjoyment for you and long term satisfaction with your deck.

Please visit our website to learn more about hardwood decking material options, decking installation, deck fastening options and more by following any of the links below:

Hardwood Decking Material Options

Hardwood Decking Installation

Deck Fastener Options

Decking Price Comparisons


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