What are the best boards to use for building a deck?

Answered by Jeffrey Anderson ~ January 7, 2015 ~ No Comments

I want to build a 16" x 16" deck. What size boards should I use?


Jeffrey Anderson

Mike, while building a deck can be a DIY project, its design should be done by an expert unless you happen to be very knowledgeable about construction. If the design is faulty, the result could be sections that eventually sag, or even worse, there could be a total collapse when the deck is crowded with friends or family. For that reason, most jurisdictions require that building plans be submitted and approved prior to any deck construction taking place. A building permit will be issued when the plans are approved and inspections are normally done during the course of its construction.

The sizing of the structural components of the deck are normally determined by the deck's size and the span of any load bearing framing members between adequate supports. A 2 x 12 can span further than a 2 x 6, but also costs quite a bit more. The spacing between the structural framing components can also affect the sizing, but again, when installed close together, that usually means more lumber and added expense. That's why it's important that you get an engineer, architect, or experienced contractor involved in at least the design process. They should have the knowledge and ability to design a deck that's safe and also give you the most bang for your buck. They should also be able to do the drawings you will need for your building permit. The drawings can come in handy for arriving at a material list for budgeting purposes as well.

You will still be able to build the deck yourself if so desired, but at least you can take comfort in knowing that your friends and family can use the structure safely. An added benefit in getting someone experienced involved in the design process is that they may have some ideas on shapes, using several levels, or even stair location that you hadn't considered. A properly constructed and maintained deck should last many years so spending a little more now to ensure the correct materials are used can be a pretty good investment.

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