Deck Board Spacing Question

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Old 05-04-15, 08:00 AM
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Deck Board Spacing Question

Good Morning, Community!

I have the frame of a floating deck all set, and have laid out all of my boards loosely. The deck is 20x20, and I had some concerns with spacing and warped boards.

1. Spacing: The boards were fairly wet yesterday, how long does it take for them to dry out. I'm thinking of trying to screw them in flush, but if I don't get to it until this weekend, will they have dried out?

2. Warping: Always a good time. Is it just a matter of trying to "squish" it into shape, then screw it down?

Appreciate the advice, it's gone smoothly so far, but want this thing looking nice when we're done.
 
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Old 05-04-15, 09:29 AM
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Without knowing what your deck boards are, the advice could vary but...

If the wood is pressure treated, it's quite possible that the boards will shrink slightly (in width) as they dry. Any wet board can also warp as it gets wet then dries. I will say that if you laid all your boards out, that was a big mistake, and is the main reason they are now all warped. Lumber should always be kept stacked (and bound, if possible) so as to keep it as straight as possible until the time comes to use it.

Without seeing how bad the boards are warped, it's hard to give advice. You obvously want them all to be straight once they are laid, so I guess I would advise you to snap a chalk line and pick the straightest board you can find to start out with. If you are screwing, it may help to predrill your holes so that the head of the screw will help pull down a board that might be warped up on one side. As far as spacing is concerned, a fat nail that's about 1/8" wide usually works well as a gauge. They also make deck prybars that can help you bend crooked lumber (like Fubar III). It's often easier to lay crooked boards in this manner... | | | ( ... rather than... | | | ) ... because if you start screwing from one end of the crooked board you will have more leverage as you push on the far end to straighten it out. If you attach both ends, then try and push the middle you are in for a wrestling match. (made easier with Fubar III.)

Since treated wood usually shrinks in width, a 1/8" gap at the time of install can sometimes grow to 1/4" or more as the wood shrinks. It all depends on how wet it is. Cedar planks usually don't shrink much at all.

This probably doesn't answer all your questions but in short, I would not worry about the wood being wet or dry. Either way it needs to be screwed down straight. Snapping some chalk lines on the framing and measuring back from the first straight board that you install will be the best way to keep the gaps between boards as consistent as possible.

If your boards are all laid out, I would advise you to stack them back up in a neat pile, put them on something flat and straight and bind them together with 4 or 5 ratchet straps or similar to keep the entire bundle in shape. If the pile is back to back (like two stacks of 12... or 3 stacks of 8) it's often better than making one big stack that's single file... doing that now may help a lot if you do it soon and only open it when you are ready to install.
 
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Old 05-04-15, 09:44 AM
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Thank you, they are pressure treated 5/4s.

Shoot. I should have realized laying them out might lead to some warping. I may start just screwing them in tonight/tomorrow to prevent any additional warpage. Hopefully 1 day in the sun won't completely screw me

Thanks for the tips!
 
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Old 05-04-15, 09:57 AM
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Warping usually happens when one side of the wood is drying out faster than the other side. That's exactly what happens when wet wood is placed in the sun. The sunny side dries faster, so it warps. There wouldn't be anything wrong with soaking the wood with a hose and stacking it and keeping it wet. That would be preferable to doing nothing.
 
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Old 05-04-15, 10:05 AM
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I guess my question is how quickly this happens.

Today it's 80 and sunny. The rest of the week scattered storms.

Will it happen in a day? Or a week?
 
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Old 05-04-15, 10:18 AM
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Warping "starts" to happen the instant the banding on a bundle of wood is cut open at the lumber yard. Yes, it can happen in a day. It can happen in 10 minutes if you lay a straight board by itself on the grass on a hot sunny day. I guess I don't understand your intent in asking the question. If you're gone to work and are worried about the boards back at home I guess there is no sense crying over spilled milk... I'm not saying to leave work and head home. If they are already starting to get warped they will likely only get worse the longer they sit out in the open. A board that is starting to warp will probably be worse after 7 days than it is after a single day.

That's why my advice would be to correct the situation as soon as is practical by rewetting and stacking it. The board getting wet is not always the issue... it's the uneven drying. Keeping wood covered to prevent it from getting wet in the first place is just common sense. But if it's already wet, as most treated wood is, the thing to often do is to keep it wet.
 
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Old 05-04-15, 10:49 AM
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ok, sounds like this can get pretty bad fairly quickly. Looks like I'll be calling out tomorrow and laying some boards!

Thanks!
 
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