Deck Installation Instructions and Tips

The exotic lumber we sell is very dense, very hard wood. Using some specialized and higher grade tools may be necessary for good results. This page will give you an overview of handling and building suggestions that will help you achieve excellent results when building your deck.

Detailed Step-By-Step Instructions:

These illustrated guides will make the installation process even easier:

Is Your Project Indoors or Outdoors?

Decking is used for both outdoor decks and indoor, or covered applications like sunrooms, atriums, and gazebos. All of our decking is available in either partially air dried or kiln dried lumber. Air dried lumber is intended for outdoor use for decks, benches, docks, play yards, or other outdoor furniture. Air dried lumber inside will shrink. Kiln dried lumber is best suited for indoor uses. Kiln dried lumber outside will expand. Make sure you order lumber that has been properly dried for its intended application.

Preparation

Wood decking should be allowed to sit for a few days prior to installation in order to get acclimated to your local temperature and humidity levels. The deck design should allow for ground side ventilation to insure stability of the decking due to proper air circulation. Do not cover your decking. If you cover your decking, it will not acclimate properly and can warp, or twist.

Installing hardwood decking above a concrete pad is NOT recommended. Hardwood decking should never be installed directly over concrete due to moisture retention. Any hardwood decking installed over a new or aged concrete pad will cause the deck boards to cup and/or crown.

Cutting and Drilling

Due to the very hard nature of our exotic hardwoods, premium carbide tipped saw blades are recommended for cutting. Brad point drill bits or fostner bits provide cleaner holes than standard HSS twist bits.

End Sealing

Our hardwood decking is shipped with the endgrain sealed with a clear wax to prevent any end checking. Fresh cuts should be sealed within 24hrs with endgrain sealant. We sell endgrain sealant by the quart, typically enough for 500 sq. ft of decking. The endgrain sealant is simply applied with a paintbrush and dries clear.

Gap Spacing

We recommend allowing 1/16" gaps between deck boards for water drainage and wood expansion / contraction. This also allows for proper air circulation. Average shrinkage is approximately 1/16" on 4" wide boards and 3/32" on 6" wide boards.

Finishing

Because of our wood's natural density and its alkaline characteristics, many oil and water based finishes will not dry properly when applied. We recommend that you test any product on several sample boards to determine compatibility. The finish we sell and recommend is Ipe Oil™ which is manufactured exclusively by the Ipe Clip® company. Other possible finishes include Messmers UV Plus finish, Sitkens Deck Finish, CWF Flood Finish, and Penafin. Applying a finish approximately every two years (depending upon your local climate) will keep the beautiful color of your deck. If you decide to let your deck weather, you can expect the color to fade to a silvery patina over time. We recommend that you apply a coat of finish initially after deck installation, regardless of the final color desired. This will ensure that the wood retains its oils and stability.

Gluing

If the need arises to glue your deck, waterproof glues, such as Gorilla brand polyurethane can be used with satisfactory results. Epoxy glues are also very suitable and can be dyed to black, brown or other colors to match the color of your deck. Epoxy produces a very strong waterproof bond, particularly important for gluing posts.

Which Decking Profile?

Standard and Pregrooved Decking

For traditional outdoor, uncovered decks.

Our standard and pregrooved decking are both perfect choices to be installed on outdoor decks and docks. When installing outdoor decking be sure to leave a gap between deck boards of 3/32” for air dried material or 1/4” gap for kiln dried material. The difference in gap spacing is to ensure that the decking has room to expand and contract depending on the material used and the environment where it is installed.

How to Install:

Installation of pregrooved decking using hidden deck fasteners

Ipe Clip® Method: The Ipe Clip® system uses high strength plastic clips that insert into slots cut into the edge of the deck board which then rests on top of a joist. A stainless steel screw (supplied with each Ipe Clip® fastener) is then screwed down into the joist. We recommend the Ipe Clip® system as many other decking fastener systems install from the bottom side of the deck, requiring screwing into the bottom of the deck board. With the Ipe Clip® system no screws or holes show from the surface. Get step-by-step instructions for installing Ipe Clips®.

Installation of standard decking using face screws and plugs

Face Screw / Plug Method: Countersink 3/8" holes into face of deck boards. Predrill 1/8" pilot holes completely through the deck boards. Screw the deck boards down with stainless screws. 3/8" plugs are then glued into the holes with waterproof glue (i.e. Gorilla brand glue, Epoxy, etc.) Plugs are then knocked off with a chisel and sanded smooth with 80 grit sandpaper ( a round orbit sander works great). We manufacture plugs in 3/8" diameter with a small taper. Get step-by-step instructions for installing wood plugs.

Installation of standard decking using face screws

Finish Screw Method: Stainless steel #7 or #8 trim head screws are screwed into the face of the decking. Recommended two per joist. The trim head screw is very small and only slightly noticeable. Torx drive screws will strip out less than square drive.

Tongue & Groove Porch Decking

For use on covered porches & patios only.

Enjoy Your Deck Year-Round... Decks are not just for summertime anymore! We now offer our customers Tongue & Groove Decking in four unique species. Our T & G decking is the perfect option for any covered porch, patio, or sunroom. So forget about only enjoying your deck in the summertime. Give yourself a deck that you can love anytime of the year. T&G decking has no gap spacing in between the boards after it is installed, similar to interior hardwood flooring.

How to Install:

Installation of Tongue & Groove Porch Decking

T&G decking will need to be installed directly on top of the floor joists, not on a sub floor as the material will need cross ventilation underneath it. The material will need to be under cover and have a pitch to allow for drainage. For installation we suggest that you pre drill a hole on a 45-degree angle where the tongue and the face meet, you will see a slight v-groove in this corner. Then, on that same 45-degree angle drive a trim head screw through the pre drilled hole, through the deck board into the floor joist. We carry a large variety of stainless steel trim head screws that a perfect for this application. The trim head screws are required because the head will sink into the corner where the v-groove is. This sinking action will allow the next deck board to slide into place and will perfectly conceal the previously installed screw head. Get step-by-step instructions for installing Tongue & Groove porch decking.

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