When building a deck, one of the most important things you’ll need to consider is the spacing between deck boards.

The right deck spacing will ensure that your deck will last longer, and will provide enough space to run accessories and electrical wiring throughout as required.

Before installing your deck boards, you should know the proper deck board spacing, lists of tools you will need, and effective techniques you can use to speed up the process.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide about everything you should know about deck board spacing. Let’s get started!

What Is Deck Spacing?

The distance between the sides of each plank and the ends of the boards is referred to as deck board spacing.

When you are installing a new deck, you should pay attention to the boards’ spacing because it will affect how your deck looks and how it is built. You want to make sure that your deck is built properly to last for years to come.

In general, there are three types of spacing that can be used on a deck:

Source: Canva.com

Narrow Spacing 

Tight spacing is most commonly used on decks with wood rails because it gives them a more traditional look. Narrow spacing can also be used if you want to give your deck a modern feel.

Standard Spacing

The conventional layout is the most common type of spacing used by builders because it provides more support than narrow spacing while still looking good. However, if you have an old house or just aren’t into traditional styles then standard spacing might not be right for you.

The standard type of spacing also works well with composite components since they tend to be lighter than other types like steel or aluminum. Note that composite materials still require some kind of support system underneath them, so they don’t sag over time.

Wide Spacing

Loose spacing should only be used if you want something that looks modern and unique in style. Wide spacing will also work well with steel or aluminum materials due to their weight but not so much with composite ones since those tend to sag over time.

What’s The Right Deck Spacing?

In general, the distance between deck planks should be between 1/4 and 3/8 inches. End-to-end spacing varies according to the decking material. To be more specific, here is a list of the suggested spacing based on different deck materials.

  • A 1/8″ gap is typical for traditional wood decking
  • A 3/16″ gap is suitable for board profiles
  • A 1/8″ minimum spacing is suggested for polymer and composite deck planks

There are many factors to consider in calculating how far apart you should space your boards, including:

  • The weight of people who will be using the deck and the outdoor furniture you intended to put in that area
  • How much rain or snow will be falling on the deck
  • The materials used to construct the deck
  • Deck design (curves, decorative railing, etc.)

Benefits of Proper Deck Spacing

Decking is an investment, and you want to make sure that the planks are installed correctly to maximize the durability of your deck materials. A deck with proper spacing will provide several benefits, including:

  • Allows wood expansion and contraction. When your deck boards are spaced properly, they won’t crack when the wood expands in the summer or contracts in the winter. Proper spacing enables your deck to maintain its original look for a long period.
Source: Canva.com
  • It makes cleaning easier. If you have a properly-spaced deck, it will be easier to get everything clean between each board.
  • Allows for adequate water drainage. When water gets trapped beneath a deck board, it can rot out the wood over time—and no one wants that! Proper spacing helps ensure that water drains away from your deck instead of staying trapped between boards and causing damage over time.
  • Enables air circulation around the deck boards. If your deck has proper spacing between wood planks and if you have gaps between the bottom edges of each board, air can flow freely through those spaces to keep things dry.

How to Space Deck Boards

To create a constant board spacing throughout the whole deck, there is a simple technique you should know. There are a few things you can do to ensure that your deck is spaced correctly. Here are the tools you will need:

Tools for Proper Deck Spacing

  1. Iron Nails.

Depending on your wood material, you will need iron nails with at least 0.375 to 0.25-inch diameter.

Note that if your boards are dry, use a nail with a ¼ inch to ⅜ inch diameter to allow ventilation and the debris to pass through. If the panels are wet, use fasteners with less than ⅜ inch in diameter because the wood will shrink as it dries.

  1. A Piece of Small Wood.

Pick any hardwood with at least 1.5 x 1.5-inch size. Any wood shape would do. Preferably, choose a square wood to properly insert the nail in its center.

  1. A Hammer or a Drill.

Use any handy hammer to drive iron nails to your wood planks. You can also use a drill to create holes and drive screws.

  1. Wood Board.

Ready your deck planks and ensure they are not warped or have any defects.

Step-by-Step Process on How to Space Your Deck Boards

1. Create guide spacers.

Using a hammer, insert an iron nail into the center of the small wood. Make sure to align the nail to the center of the wood as much as possible. Take a look at the illustration below as your guide.

4. Align the boards and put the guide spacers you made between them.

Source: Canva.com

3. Insert one or more spacers between the boards every 24 inches.

4. Insert the nail to the deck board using nails and a hammer or a drill.

Connect the wood plank to the deck joist or bridge by inserting at least two nails into the linkage.

5. Repeat the process to install the whole deck boards.

Source: Canva.com

That’s the end of our blog about deck board spacing. To create a strong, sturdy deck, whether you’re building a flat or an elevated deck, you’ll need to know the appropriate deck board spacing depending on your material.

Editorial Contributors
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Elisabeth Beauchamp

Senior Staff Writer

Elisabeth Beauchamp is a content producer for Today’s Homeowner’s Lawn and Windows categories. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in Journalism and Linguistics. When Elisabeth isn’t writing about flowers, foliage, and fertilizer, she’s researching landscaping trends and current events in the agricultural space. Elisabeth aims to educate and equip readers with the tools they need to create a home they love.

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Lora Novak

Senior Editor

Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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