Deck Boards vs Fence Boards


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Old 12-27-16, 01:57 PM
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Deck Boards vs Fence Boards

Hi All,

Last year, I replaced my deck boards with 1.25” x 5˝” pressure treated deck boards. Despite all the nuances that come with warped boards, my 15'x15' deck turned out relatively reasonably well and at a low cost.

Recently, someone had made a comment that I used fence boards. My only rebuttal was: “Well I guess Lowes is lying to the public with false advertisement because they had me fooled.” The person who made the comment was convinced, but I couldn’t bother wasting my time arguing otherwise. I’m not a lumber expert so I was not equipped enough to argue the differences between a fence board and a deck board. But, well before I started the project, I did my homework before the purchase, so I know full well I did not replace my deck boards with fencing. However, I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinion; so, whatever.

This comment was incisive and the other day I found myself looking at old receipts; only to appease the notion that I did not, in fact, purchase fencing boards. To my relief, the product code and description, along with the dimensions of the decking I purchased was proof to myself that I did not replace my deck with fencing. I even went so far as to search the product code online to confirm that I wasn’t misinformed by the receipt.

Normally, at least in my neighborhood, fence boards are 1” or less thick but have the same width as my deck boards (5˝”). Technically, I suppose I could use the same decking boards to replace my fence boards (when that day eventually comes), but its going to be a great deal more expensive than purchasing 1” boards.

Why would someone use a thicker fence board: preference; more money than brains? I am just the average home owner in the neighborhood who likes to keep the place nice, but at a relatively reasonable cost on the pocketbook.

However, it still begs the question (as I finally get to it), what is the differentiating factor between a fence board and a deck board – is there one?

Sincerely,
Canadian Bob
 
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Old 12-27-16, 02:08 PM
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Your "someone" doesn't know what he's talking about.
 
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Old 12-27-16, 02:16 PM
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Fence boards are usually in the neighborhood of 1/2" thick
 
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Old 12-27-16, 02:40 PM
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Boards

According to the "Big Blue" web site description of fence boards, the boards are 5/8 in. thick. and 6 ft long.

I imagine your deck boards are longer than 6 ft. and thicker than 5/8 in.
 
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Old 12-27-16, 09:01 PM
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Yes, and a very good point. I needed several 15+ footers. The design of the deck has an outside border - to about 3 boards in - then the rest are diagonal inside the border. Even subtle warps at that length offers several challenges; I took my time. But to your point about length, in my area, its against the by-laws to have a fence higher than 6 feet. I know for certain that home depot, nor Lowes will carry fence board higher than that. One would probably need to go to a special lumber yard to get anything higher than that.

Thickness is 1.25", probably more than enough for the strength and support needed with 12 inches of space between each stud.
 
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Old 12-27-16, 10:31 PM
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Technically what you used is called 5/4 x 6 boards. I suspect your misinformed friend is use to seeing 2x6s used as decking boards.
 
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Old 12-28-16, 06:22 AM
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And to be fair, it is possible your friend has seen a fence built using deck boards as horizontal rails.
 
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Old 12-28-16, 06:25 AM
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True, the portion of my goat's fence that butts up against the yard is constructed of 4x4 posts and 1x6 decking for the rails.

While I see 2x6s used for decking occasionally the 1x6 decking is what's used most often.
 
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Old 12-28-16, 10:36 AM
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the 1x6 decking is what's used most often.
Different areas different strokes. Here 2x6s seem to be more common then 5/4x6.
 
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Old 12-28-16, 08:30 PM
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Technically what you used is called 5/4 x 6 boards.
Correct, the order I placed was based on that specification.
 
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Old 12-30-16, 06:10 PM
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the reason fence boards are thinner is cost and environmental impact. It's not holding any weight so it can be less materials. Sure, a thicker fence board will do better in a hurricane but the thinner boards do fine, and the space between the boards will let more or less air though.

If the bottom of the fence boards touch dirt, and aren't purposely build an inch or so above ground which is smart to do, the they will wick up moisture and thus a thicker board would last longer. We replaced our fence about 13 years ago with the thin fence they have at home depot. It was about $25 per 8 foot long 6' high pre built section. It is doing very well. We kept the old ~40 year old posts and some of those needed to be replaced last year, but the fence boards are fine after 13 years. Some of the tips of the dog ear design cracked and we just replace the top part that cracked off. The fence had no damage from hurricane sandy. The boards have quite a bit of spacing between them though compared to the old fence we had and compared to thicker wooden fences I've seen. Even where the bottoms of the thin boards touch dirt are doing ok for being in dirt for so long. They are rotten but not all the way.


The whole 8' prebuilt fence panel is about $25 but it costs about that much to buy maybe just 6 replacement boards if you need them later. I tie tomato plants and have a rather large grape tree attached to the thin home depot dog ear fence and the planks are holding up fine. We didn't seal or stain or do anything to it.


side note, I guess the person who said you bought fence boards was used to 2x6s being used as decking boards which is usually way overkill. I worked for a deck company for many years and never used 2x6s for decking nor have I seen decks built with them more than just a few instances. As long as you seal the deck now and then or paint it, the regular decking boards do fine. And yes 12" on center joists is the spacing you need for those deck boards because they are on a diagonal like you said. If they were not diagonal then the joists could be spaced 16" apart.
 
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Old 12-31-16, 03:26 PM
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Different areas different strokes. Here 2x6s seem to be more common then 5/4x6.
I wonder why in Texas 2x6s are used for decking? I've never seen a logical reason for using them and to me they just look too institutional. Do they space the stringers under the deck boards further apart than 16"? That's the only advantage I could see to using them for decking.
 
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Old 12-31-16, 03:49 PM
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I can't say why 2x6s. Maybe just habit that started before deck boards. It's been a few years since I have been looking at what is being done. Maybe now 5/4x6 are more common.
 
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Old 12-31-16, 08:28 PM
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Many times when people use 2x6's for decking they can space the joists 24" OC. 5\4" needs 16" OC spacing.
 
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Old 01-01-17, 04:33 AM
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I forgot about the poorly built decks I've stained over the years that used 2x6 for decking with 24" centers for the joists. They usually sag with age. I thought they changed the code and no longer allow the 24" centers ..... if not they should have
 
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Old 01-01-17, 09:46 AM
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2x6 vs 5/4x6

I used 2x6's due to the cost factor. 2x6's and 5/4x6's were essentially the same price. I went with 2x6's for the additional strength. Joists are 16" oc.
 
 

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