Description: Skid-resistant polymer or plastic coatings that are applied with a trowel or roller to plywood decking. Also rolls of textured rubber, in various widths, that are glued to plywood with a special adhesive. Appearance: Polymer and rubber toppings come in several colors. Neutral-shaded polymer coating can be tinted.

Cost: $ 1 to $4 a square foot. Comments: Use where slipperiness could be a problem. Because it's self-flashing, polymer coating can make a deck waterproof. Solvent-weld the seams of rubber rolls to turn your raised deck into what amounts to a roof—the perfect topper for a patio below. Pitch plywood 1/4 inch per foot for drainage. Use /4-inch exterior- or marine-grade plywood.


Decks seem to eat nails. For every 40 square feet of deck, you'll need 1 pound of 16-penny common nails (for joists) and 2 pounds of 12-penny common nails (for decking). Use only hot-dipped, stainless-steel, or aluminum nails; ordinary steel rusts and stains the lumber.

Galvanized nails cost the least. Aluminum nails resist rust better, but they cost more and bend easily. Stainless-steel nails are the most costly and resist rust best. Spiral-shank or coated nails grip better than ordinary types.

Bolts, nuts, washers, and screws also should be galvanized. Bolts should be as long as the total thickness of the materials being joined, plus 3/4 inch. Screws should be long enough so that two-thirds of their length goes into the member you're fastening to.


Distance between joists Joist size 16 in. 24 in. 32 in.


8 ft.

6 ft.

5 ft.


10 ft.

8 ft.

7 ft.


13 ft.

10 ft.

8 ft.

These spans will carry 40 pounds per square joot, a typical code requirement, Use 4x4s for posts up to 8 feet high, 6x6s above that.

Maximum distance Beam size between posts


6 ft.


8 ft.


10 ft.


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