The fall season is the perfect time to finish up those value-adding projects around your yard, particularly if you live in a part of the world where winter hits hard and stays long. And nothing adds value to a home’s exterior like a gorgeous redwood deck. This tutorial will show you a step-by-step method that’s efficient and effective in laying a redwood deck floor on top of your deck joists and frame.
Note: The author is an experienced, although not professional, builder. Use the advice set forth in this tutorial at your own risk. Always check building codes in your area before building. Neither the author nor Homedit is responsible for damages as a result of following this tutorial.
Before you begin throwing redwood boards down on your joists and frame and screwing them in (oh, please don’t do that. Please!), you’ll want to make sure you’re squared off and ready to lay them down with precision and care. To this end, on the two sides of your deck that run lengthwise with your deck joists, run a tape measure along the outer frame.
Mark every 12” along the outer frame.
Mark every 12” along the outer frame on the other side as well.
Run a chalk line, matching the ends up with every 12” mark, and snap it across the joists every 12”.
This will provide you with a gauge, as you’re laying your deck boards, to square up against. It will keep you on track throughout the laying of your redwood deck floor so you don’t end up accidentally slanted at the end of your deck.
If you have a curved aspect of your deck, you’ll want to lay down the board on the outermost part of the curve first. (See this tutorial on laying a curved deck floor.) The next item to consider is the possibility of any abnormality within the deck floor. For example, this electrical conduit (pipe) must come up through the corner of the deck floor to enter in through the house wall.
So, we measured, marked, and drilled out the hole for that pipe in our first board. (Of course, if your obstruction comes in the middle of your deck, you’ll just have to deal with that when you get there. Unless you want to start at the point of obstruction and work your way outward. It’s a judgement call you’ll have to make, based upon your specific setup.)
Sand the edges of the hole so the top of the deck floor board is smooth.
This board is now ready to be placed as a redwood deck floor board.
To lay a redwood deck floor with 2×6 pieces of redwood, we will be using a Camo brand deck spacer. This is a magical tool, and once you use it, you will never want to use anything else to build a deck ever again.
It works by squeezing the lever upward, which extends outward the two metal spacers at either end of the tool.
Keeping the lever squeezed, place the Camo deck spacer on the redwood 2×6 at the point that is both parallel and centered over a joist. Release the lever, which will contract the two metal spacers and clamp the deck spacer tool in place.
You will then use the appropriate size of Camo screws (in this instance, 2-3/8” screws for a 2×6 deck floor) to screw into the holes on either side of the deck spacer.
Now let’s talk technique. We found it most effective to begin at the most stable/immovable side of the deck. In this case, that is the house wall side. Clamp the deck spacer above the frame here, and screw the redwood board in place, leaving about 1/4” gap between the end of the board and the house.
(Be sure the obstruction is threaded up through the redwood board, if applicable, before attaching. Kind of obvious, but you never know what can be overlooked when you’re thinking of a million things to get right.)
The method we found to be most effective involved three workers per board. (Note: These are 16’ boards to cover about a 13’ deck span, because whenever possible, it’s best to have seamless deck floor boards. So there is about 3’ of excess at the end of each board. Fortunately, we were able to use much of that for a slimmer part of the deck floor near a curved edge.) Two workers each used a deck spacer on neighboring joists, while the third worker helped to lever the board’s end to keep it parallel.
Use a pry bar to push or pull the end of the board so that the Camo deck spacer that’s being worked on at that moment is snug.
As you work your way outward from the house (or your most stable deck side), you will have the two deck spacers set, then the pry bar set and pushed or pulled as needed to keep the board snug, then the screws inserted through the deck spacers, then the pry bar released. The Camo deck spacers will then be removed and set up on the next two joists down the line.
You can see here that the third worker will often double in duties of horizontal pressure, with the pry bar set and secured, as well as vertical pressure, standing on the board so it’s completely flat against the joists or frame.
Here’s another instance where, near the end of the 2×6 board’s installation, the third person will stand between the two deck spacers in order to secure the board’s being flush against the joists.
Occasionally, boards will be bent just enough that it’s hard to get the deck spacer down into the gap. When this happens, you can use wooden shims to widen the gap just enough for the deck spacer.
Place the deck spacer so it is flush against the top of your redwood board.
Then you can either remove the shim and install the screws, or keep the shim there while you install the screws. It doesn’t make much difference in this instance.
Another way to accomplish this without spacers is to simply use a small crowbar between the two boards. Pull or push it to give your deck spacer some room, then remove the crowbar after the spacer is in place.
Working your way from the house (or most stable side) down to the other edge of the deck allows you to use the end of your redwood 2×6 as leverage for pushing/pulling it into place. Remember that wood isn’t precisely straight, and you can manipulate it to a large extent to do exactly what you want and lay precisely where and how you want.
You can see here, faintly, the line of Camo screws installed along this joist. That’s what makes using a deck spacer like this so wonderful – the proof of installation is practically invisible when all’s said and done. Makes for an ultimately seamless redwood deck floor.
Allow the ends of your boards to overhang the edge of the frame where possible. Be sure to use the deck spacer on both of your doubled-up outer deck frame pressure treated boards.
If the overhang distance is too great, however, or if you need to use the excess lumber, use a circular saw to carefully cut the ends off the outside edge of your board. Leave an inch or two of overhang at this point, though, so you can do a final cut that is precise all the way along your deck edge.
In the instance that you run into some obstructions on your deck floor, like this 6×6 cedar pergola post coming up through the deck floor, for example, you may need to use large clamps instead of the pry bar to keep the board in place before you attach it.
In addition, it is fairly easy to chisel out bits of the board as needed. Simply use a jigsaw then hammer and chisel the rest of the wood out. The pergola post infringed on the next redwood board in this example, so a small sliver had to be removed.
Then use the Camo deck spacers above the joists and/or frame to keep the board in place before mounting.
Always put downward pressure on the board and/or the Camo deck spacer as you’re installing the screws, because you never know when a board is lifted slightly off the joist. You want that baby down.
The bottom of the pergola post will be trimmed, so the edge wasn’t sanded or finished beautifully here. The important thing is that the 2×6 redwood board fits around the pergola post now, and the board maintains its parallel layout for the rest of the deck floor.
Really, it’s just a process of working methodically, from stability outward. In this example, we worked from the board closest to the concrete steps outward, with each board being secured from the left (secured side) to the right.
When you get to the very outer floor board, measure the widest distance from the second board’s edge to the outer edge of your frame. (Hopefully, this will be the same distance all across, but in case it’s not, make sure you take the widest distance.)
Mark this distance, and run the last board through a table saw to create the precise width needed to finish off your deck floor. Install in the same way, with Camo deck spacers keeping the space and predrilling/screwing on the very outer edge (since the deck spacers might not fit if you’re very far off from your 2×6 standard width).
Congratulations! While the deck isn’t yet complete, you’ve just completed laying the redwood deck floor.
Redwood is just beautiful, especially on a deck floor.
While some trimming needs to be done (we’ll discuss how to finish off the deck sides and do any trim work, such as around the pergola posts, in another article), you can start to envision what a gorgeous asset this redwood deck will be to your home, yard, and life.
Of course, you’ll need to keep your admiration to a minimum if rain is in the imminent forecast. Get the yard cleaned up fast if you’re getting a downpour like this!
We hope you enjoy installing your own redwood deck floor, and that the end result is something you can use, enjoy, and be proud of.