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Deck Construction and Fastening Tips

  • Before beginning construction, allow your decking materials to acclimate to the jobsite conditions. A freshly pressure treated deck board can contain over a gallon of liquid.
  • Select the proper fastener based on the importance of the connection, exposure, and the materials that are being fastened. Consult Fastener Finder or guidelines on choosing the correct fastener.
  • Consider using 300 Series stainless-steel fasteners when elevated exposure conditions may exist, such as presence of de-icing salts or close proximity to swimming pools, hot tubs, sprinklers, ponds, foliage and other resident moisture sources. For composite decking, follow manufacturer’s fastening requirements.
  • Inadequate gap spacing between boards can put additional load on the fasteners and lead to broken screws or nail pops. For deck board spacing recommendations, refer to the board manufacturer. Spacing for wood decks depends on wood species and moisture content; for composites, consult manufacturer installation instructions.
  • For wood decking, orient the boards “bark side up” to help shed water.
  • Use caution to avoid overdriving fasteners during installation. Overdriving can cause fastener breakage and create a counterbore where water can pool, facilitating corrosion and decay.
  • Allow for proper water drainage. A deck should angle away from the structure a minimum of 1/8" for every 8' to reduce the possibility of standing water.
  • If 5/4" decking is to be installed diagonally, reduce the oncenter joist spacing to 12" versus standard 16".
  • Adequate ventilation is necessary to minimize cupping, warping and other weathering related defects. Construct the deck a minimum of 18 inches off the ground to allow proper airflow. If this is not possible, reduce on-center joist spacing to 12" versus standard 16". A moisture barrier (landscape fabric) under the deck, covered with gravel is also a good practice.
  • Proper maintenance is essential. Staining and sealing, along with periodic inspection of fasteners and hardware, will potentially add years to the life of the deck.

For more information on deck construction and products from Simpson Strong‑Tie, please see our Deck Connection and Fastening Guide (F-DECKCODE) and the technical bulletin, Guard Post, Guard Rail and Baluster Installations Using Strong-Drive® Structural Fasteners (T-F-GRDPSTRL18). Visit our Deck Center to get inspired, find the right products, and ensure that your deck is safe and code compliant.

Please refer to the American Wood Council’s Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide (DCA 6) for important information on best practices and code compliant design.