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Decking: Which Way Up Decking: Which Way Up

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Decking: Which Way Up

Written by: Sophie Thompson

Looking for outdoor furniture for your decking? Discover the best way to arrange your decking boards with our helpful guide.

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Welcome to the world of outdoor living and furniture! When it comes to creating a beautiful and functional outdoor space, decking plays a vital role. Whether you have a spacious backyard or a cozy balcony, decking can transform your outdoor area into a stylish and comfortable retreat.

However, when it comes to installing decking, many people overlook an important aspect – the orientation of the boards. The way decking is laid out can have a significant impact on its durability, stability, and overall appearance. In this article, we will explore the importance of decking orientation and provide valuable tips for its installation.

Understanding how to correctly install decking boards is crucial to ensure that your outdoor furniture stands the test of time. By following the correct orientation guidelines, you can enhance the lifespan of your decking and create a visually pleasing outdoor space.

So, let’s dive in and discover why getting the decking orientation right is essential for a successful outdoor furniture project!

Understanding Decking Orientation

Decking orientation refers to the way in which the decking boards are laid out when installing a deck. It involves determining the direction in which the boards will run, whether they will be installed perpendicular or parallel to the house or other structural elements, and how the joints between the boards will be positioned.

There are two primary decking orientations: parallel and perpendicular.

Parallel orientation: When decking boards are installed parallel to the house or other structural elements, they run in the same direction as the flow of foot traffic. This orientation is visually appealing and creates a clean, uniform look. It is a popular choice for decks that have a long, straight edge.

Perpendicular orientation: In contrast to parallel orientation, perpendicular orientation involves installing decking boards at a 90-degree angle to the house or other structural elements. This orientation adds a unique and visually interesting pattern to the deck. It is often used for decks with multiple levels or curves.

When deciding on the best decking orientation for your outdoor furniture project, consider factors such as the size and shape of your deck, the location of any existing features like trees or pools, the direction of sunlight, and your personal preferences in terms of aesthetics.

Furthermore, it is important to consider the structural integrity of your deck when determining the direction of the boards. Each decking board should be properly supported by joists or bearers to prevent sagging or warping over time. Ensure that the substructure of your deck is strong and secure before proceeding with the decking installation.

Now that we have a basic understanding of decking orientation, let’s explore the benefits of installing decking in the right direction.

Benefits of Installing Decking in the Right Direction

Installing decking boards in the correct orientation offers several benefits that go beyond just aesthetics. Here are some key advantages of getting the decking orientation right:

  1. Improved visual appeal: Installing decking in the right direction can greatly enhance the overall appearance of your outdoor space. Whether you choose a parallel or perpendicular orientation, properly aligned boards create a neat and visually pleasing pattern that adds character and charm to your deck.
  2. Enhanced durability: Correctly orienting the decking boards can significantly improve the durability and longevity of your deck. By following the proper installation guidelines, you ensure that the boards are properly supported and aligned, reducing the risk of sagging or warping over time. This helps to maintain the structural integrity of your decking, making it more resistant to wear and tear.
  3. Better water drainage: Decking boards that are installed with the correct orientation can aid in the efficient drainage of water. Whether it’s rainwater or accidental spills, having the boards positioned to allow for proper water flow can prevent water accumulation. This helps to prevent moisture-related issues such as rot, decay, and mold growth.
  4. Improved safety: Installing decking in the right direction also contributes to the safety of your outdoor space. Properly oriented boards reduce the risk of tripping or stumbling, as they create a smooth and even walking surface. This is especially important if you have children or elderly individuals using the deck.
  5. Easier maintenance: Orienting decking boards correctly can make maintenance tasks easier and more efficient. Proper alignment reduces the likelihood of debris, such as leaves or dirt, getting trapped between the boards. This simplifies cleaning and makes it easier to maintain the cleanliness and appearance of your deck.

By taking the time to install your decking in the right direction, you not only enhance the overall look of your outdoor space but also ensure its durability, safety, and maintenance. Now that we understand the benefits of proper decking orientation, let’s examine some common mistakes that people make in this regard.

Common Mistakes in Decking Orientation

While it may seem like a straightforward task, decking orientation is often overlooked or misunderstood by many homeowners. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when it comes to decking orientation:

  1. Ignoring the natural flow: One of the most common mistakes is failing to consider the natural flow of foot traffic when deciding on the orientation of the decking boards. It’s important to align the boards in a direction that feels intuitive and allows for easy movement around the outdoor space.
  2. Incorrect joist spacing: Another mistake is not properly spacing the joists or bearers that support the decking boards. Incorrect spacing can lead to sagging and instability. It’s essential to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines or seek professional advice to determine the appropriate spacing for your decking boards.
  3. Improper board alignment: Inconsistent board alignment is a common mistake and can lead to an uneven and visually unappealing deck. Make sure to properly align each decking board, ensuring that they are straight and parallel or perpendicular to the desired orientation.
  4. Inadequate ventilation: Failing to provide adequate ventilation beneath the decking is another mistake that can lead to moisture-related issues. Proper airflow is crucial for preventing the buildup of moisture, which can cause rot and decay. Always follow ventilation guidelines to promote a healthy and long-lasting deck.
  5. Ignoring the surroundings: Overlooking the surroundings of the deck, such as trees, pools, or other landscape features, can result in a less visually pleasing deck. Consider how the orientation and layout of the decking boards will interact with existing elements to create a harmonious and well-integrated outdoor space.
  6. Skipping proper preparation: Neglecting proper preparation, such as cleaning the substructure, ensuring level ground, and using appropriate fasteners, can lead to complications during the decking installation. Take the time to prepare the area before laying down the boards to prevent issues down the line.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure a successful decking installation that maximizes the aesthetic appeal, durability, and functionality of your outdoor furniture project. Now that we are aware of the common mistakes, let’s explore some tips for proper decking installation.

Tips for Proper Decking Installation

To ensure a successful and long-lasting decking installation, consider the following tips:

  1. Plan and measure: Before starting the installation, carefully plan out the layout of your decking and take accurate measurements. This will help you determine the quantity of materials needed and ensure that you have enough decking boards and fasteners to complete the project.
  2. Prepare the substructure: Ensure that the substructure of your deck is properly prepared. This includes cleaning the area, removing any debris, and making sure the ground is level. If necessary, use stakes, string lines, and a spirit level to ensure an even and sturdy substructure.
  3. Choose the right fasteners: Selecting the right fasteners is crucial for the stability and longevity of your decking. Use corrosion-resistant screws or nails that are suitable for outdoor use. Consider using hidden fastening systems for a seamless and clean look.
  4. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines: Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions for installing your specific type of decking material. Each material may have specific installation requirements, such as recommended joist spacing or fastener placement, which should be followed for optimal results.
  5. Start with a solid foundation: Begin by installing the first decking board on a solid and straight edge. This will serve as the reference point to align the rest of the boards. Take care to ensure that the first board is well supported and properly secured to the substructure.
  6. Check for proper spacing: Maintain a consistent spacing between each decking board to allow for expansion and contraction due to temperature and moisture changes. Use spacers or recommended gaps specified by the manufacturer to ensure adequate airflow and prevent warping.
  7. Regular maintenance: Even with proper installation, routine maintenance is essential to keep your decking in top condition. Regularly clean the surface, remove debris, and inspect for any signs of damage or wear. Depending on the material used, periodic sealing or staining may be required to protect the decking from the elements.

By following these tips, you can ensure a smooth and successful installation of your decking, creating a beautiful and functional outdoor space for your furniture. Now, let’s wrap up our article.


Installing decking in the right direction is crucial for creating a visually appealing and durable outdoor furniture space. The orientation of the boards, whether parallel or perpendicular, adds unique character and enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of your deck. Additionally, correct decking orientation improves durability, promotes efficient water drainage, ensures safety, and simplifies maintenance.

However, it’s important to avoid common mistakes in decking orientation, such as ignoring the natural flow of foot traffic, incorrect joist spacing, improper board alignment, inadequate ventilation, and disregarding the surroundings. By being mindful of these mistakes, you can avoid potential issues and create a well-designed and functional outdoor space.

Following tips for proper decking installation, such as thorough planning and measurement, preparing the substructure, using the right fasteners, following manufacturer’s guidelines, starting with a solid foundation, ensuring proper spacing, and committing to regular maintenance, will further contribute to the longevity and beauty of your decking.

Now that you understand the importance of correct decking orientation and have gained valuable tips for its installation, you’re well-equipped to embark on your outdoor furniture project. Create a space that not only showcases your personal style but also provides a relaxing and enjoyable environment for you and your loved ones to gather.

Remember, a well-oriented and well-maintained deck will continue to bring joy and enhance the outdoor appeal of your home for years to come. So go ahead, unleash your creativity, and design a stunning outdoor space with decking that is installed in the right direction!

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