You’ve gone to the trouble of installing your above-ground pool, but there’s one more thing you need to do: add decking to surround it.
Wood is the cheapest and most commonly used material for decking, but gaps may appear between the planks. However, as you begin to install the first and second boards, you encounter a problem. What is the recommended deck board spacing? Can they butt up against each other, or should there be a space between them? If so, how large should the gap be?
Deck spacing is not to be treated lightly. The consequences of failing to properly space your boards can be drastic. Proper deck board spacing should have a 1/8-inch gap after the decking has dried out. The consequences of failing to properly space your boards can be profound.
Poorly spaced boards can cause significant damage to deck boards and even your deck framing, or they can leave gaps that make walking on your deck dangerous.
Let us look into this further.
Above-Ground Pool Deck Plans
A beautiful deck can add to the enjoyment factor by providing space to relax poolside and make the most of your new pool. The extra space will give you and your visitors a place to sunbathe and hang out at water level, whether you build a deck around your above-ground pool or simply along one side.
When planning, keep an open mind and don’t feel obligated to a particular design or material if it’s out of your price range.
A competent, trustworthy builder can assist you in finding the optimal balance for you, your family, and your guests to enjoy for years to come.
This way, you can set aside an adequate budget for your project and avoid any future issues.
The Best Materials to Fill Gap Between Pool and Deck
Wood is the most popular material. Building your above-ground pool deck out of wood enables you to completely customize the look, from the type of wood you use to the stain or paint color, to the pattern in which you lay the planks. Just remember that wood requires maintenance.
Engineered composite wood is another material that is increasing in popularity.
A composite is a man-made material consisting of natural fibers such as wood (or sometimes straw) and synthetic materials such as recycled plastics.
The resulting material has the appearance of wood, but it is stronger, harder, and more weather resistant. Please bear in mind that wood needs to be maintained. Depending on the weather in your area and how you use your deck, you’ll need to preserve it with weatherproofing and sealer, as well as reseal it every few years—the same goes for repainting or restraining as the color fades.
A Quick Guide to Pool and Deck Installation
You shouldn’t start building the deck first and then hope it fits around the pool.
While above-ground pools have standard wall heights (48″, 52″, and 54″), each pool is unique. Don’t build a deck and then have it not function properly with your backyard’s new aquatic centerpiece.
Properly aligning your pool’s decking boards with the pool’s lip is not only a beautiful design feature, but it’s also an excellent safety feature. This keeps the ground level for those entering and exiting the pool and can help reduce trips and falls over any protruding pieces.
Also, some people prefer to have their pumps and filters installed beneath their above-ground pool deck. Although this looks nicer and protects your equipment from the elements, it makes it much more difficult to maintain the equipment that keeps your pool clean and operational.
Rather, place your equipment at the side of your deck for easy access and maintenance. You can construct a smaller structure to house your pumps, filters, and other equipment to keep it out of sight.
However, due to climatic conditions and aging, gaps in the decking may appear over time. So, what precautions should you take when constructing your deck?
Factors Affecting Deck Spacing
Before you start thinking about deck spacing, keep in mind that wood is made up of fibers that can retain moisture.
The more moisture this is in those fibers, the more they will expand, causing the wood to grow in size. The less moisture there is, the more the wood contracts.
Climate Factors to Consider When Building Your Deck
Decks are constantly exposed to changing humidity because they are located outside.
Decking absorbs more moisture during humid seasons, such as summer, causing the boards to expand. The wood will dry out and shrink in size during the winter when the humidity is significantly lower.
If you’ve ever lived in an older home with solid wood doors, you’re probably aware of this characteristic. A door that works perfectly in the winter may swell and not close properly in the summer.
The effects of the seasons on your deck are determined by where you reside. You should be aware of these elements if you reside in a region where humidity fluctuates dramatically.
With all this in mind, you may install decking with a small gap in the summer, knowing that the wood will shrink and create a wider gap in the winter. Similarly, if you install in the winter, you may need that quarter-inch gap in the summer to account for wood swelling.
It is best to leave your decking on site for a week or two before installing it. This will allow the wood to expand, contract, and twist before you secure it in place.
Using fasteners to hold your deck together
When building your deck, avoid using glue or adhesives because they lack the strength needed to hold the wooden planks in place. The best option is to use fasteners to secure the wooden planks. Fasteners hold boards in place, preventing them from bending and moving as the humidity changes.
You should also consider the type and spacing of your fasteners. Deck spacing can also be affected by the fasteners you use. Standard nails or deck screws will not affect spacing. Make sure you have enough fasteners to keep your decking in place.
What is better, nails or screws? And the various types of wood
Using screws instead of nails is a better option. Here is why.
Screws have threads that bite into the wood, making them far more effective than nails to hold boards in place when they begin to expand and contract.
It is also necessary to consider the initial moisture level. When purchased, treated decking, for example, can have a high moisture content, especially if it has recently been treated.
The green color of “wet” treated wood usually indicates how “wet” it is. Seasoning wet wood takes time. Treated wood will dry and contract over time. This must be considered when determining your spacing.
Lastly, wood species can affect spacing. Hardwoods and woods such as cedar, IPE, and redwood absorb moisture differently, resulting in vastly different expanding and contracting properties.
When deciding on the size of the gap to use, keep the properties of the wood in mind.
The Importance of Proper Deck Board Spacing
Although the gap between your deck boards may appear to be a minor detail in a deck project, the gap size you select plays an important function. Airflow through your deck is provided by decking board spacing, which allows evaporating air to escape. This helps to keep the framework of your deck dry and rot-free.
Drainage is also influenced by spacing. The gaps allow rain and snow to drain through instead of forming a puddle on your deck, resulting in an unsafe walking surface and mold and mildew growth.
Debris may be falling on your deck depending on its location. The debris will fall through the gaps in your deck to the ground. Too-small gaps will trap debris, allowing rot to develop. Deck boards with gaps between them can expand and compress. The boards will collapse and crack if there are no gaps between them.
What Is an Acceptable Gap Between Deck Boards?
An acceptable gap between deck boards is generally between 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch. Both sizes have advantages and disadvantages.
The eighth-inch spacing makes for a more secure walking surface. Smaller gaps mean fewer trip hazards and fewer chances for high heels or a child’s fingers to become entangled in the cracks. Smaller gaps also result in less airflow, which reduces fire hazards.
However, this means that there will be less ventilation beneath your deck. Smaller gaps also mean that your deck will not drain as well as a larger gap deck. It is also more prone to catching debris. Smaller gaps result in more boards, which add weight to your deck.
Better ventilation, drainage, and debris removal are possible with quarter-inch spacing. It also means fewer boards, which reduces the load on the joists.
Regrettably, wider gaps increase the possibility of tripping hazards. The increased airflow caused by larger gaps increases the risk of fire on your deck.
Last but not least,
Proper deck board spacing is an important step that should not be underestimated. The incorrect spacing might ruin a deck project that you’ve invested so much effort and money on.
Before deciding on the size of the spacing between your deck boards, think about the properties of the wood you’re using and the climatic conditions your deck is exposed to.
With some foresight and planning, you can ensure that the boards of your deck are correctly spaced.