Cedar decks are by far the most popular decks in Colorado, and therefore we are catering to the needs of homeowners building them. The spacing given here is for softwoods, because spacing on hardwood and composites can vary depending on the your preferences and budget.

In writing this, we’re assuming you already have the cedar deck framed up with 16-inch spacing between the joists.

This is for the homeowners out there that are finally ready to put the finishing touches on their deck (except for stains and sealants of course) and are wondering exactly what cedar deck board spacing to use and why.

a man putting cedar deck boards onto joists

Cedar Deck Spacing Tips

Cedar deck board spacing should be 1/8″. This measurement is usually referred to in two ways:

  1. Sixteen penny nail
  2. Carpenter’s pencil (for the old schoolers)

These are the two objects that you can wedge between the boards to make sure that you are getting the correct spacing.

If you like to use technology then you can use a deck spacer to make  your life easier. For the clumsier of us out there, this can help avoid dropping the nail or pencil through the cracks. It’ll save a lot of cursing, too.

yellow plastic deck board spacer

nail spacer for deck boards You know who you are…

Why The Correct Deck Board Spacing Is Important

Getting the spacing right on your deck is important for two related reasons:

  1. It allows snow and rain to pass through. You don’t want that moisture sitting on your deck and breeding stains through the years. Allowing water to move through will extend the life of your deck significantly. The downside is that leaves can get caught in the cracks, but those are easy to keep off then water and snow is.
  2. It allows evaporation to escape. This is important for homeowners that have unprotected decks with bare ground underneath. After snow and water has passed through the deck, you don’t want the Colorado sun evaporating it to the underside of your deck like the lid of a pot when you cook rice. The correct cedar deckboard spacing will allow it to return to the water cycle like it should.

Not to mention consistent spacing will look better. Keep these things in mind next time you hear someone talk about building a deck with no spacing so that they can achieve a novel look. That look will only last under strict conditions. When in doubt, space it out.

The Best Screws For Cedar

A quick word on which screws to use for cedar decking and fencing since we are talking about the effects that moisture will  have on your projects.

Don’t be cheap and skimp on the screws!

You want to use galvanized, powder-coated screws on cedar decks and fences. We recommend Guard Dog exterior wood screws because they are guaranteed against corrosion. This will prevent the “bleeding” that happens when cheaper screws corrode over the years and leave your fence or deck streaked with rust marks.

Just keep an eye out next time you walk around your neighborhood and  your are bound to see one.

Bonus: Unsure whether to use screws or nails for your deck?

We hope this has been helpful in figuring out how much gap to leave between deck boards, and if you have any other questions about decking then give us a call or email us and we are more than happy to help you out.