Decks/deck question



Thanks in advance for your help!!

I have decided to tackle a "deck" project myself - time will tell if that is the right decision or not...

The deck of the front screened-in covered porch of my 1937 Florida bungalow has rotted, especially around the edges.  Someone had installed untreated plywood on top of the original decking, hardie board on top of that, and tile on top of that.  No wonder, right?

I considered using composite material, but have settled on ipe wood, which I understand has special installation requirements.  Any advice regarding that will be greatly appreciated, but not the main thrust of my question.

When I tore up the old floor, I found that the existing joists (running parallel to the house) are 24" on center.  The maximum recommended span for ipe is 16".  I've started installing extra joists in between the old ones at 12" (halfway between).  I got to thinking that, since I'm face screwing the boards, putting screws on every board every twelve inches might be a bit of over-kill.  I'm also concerned about the finished look with that many holes (decided not to plug them - got brown-colored headcote screws instead).  

Do you have any recommendations?  I thought that perhaps I could remove the extra joists I've installed and put them at 16" from the ledger board, regardless of where the old ones fall. But I like the idea of having support every 12".  The porch gets alot of use.

If you couldn't tell, this is all very new to me!  Any questions will gratefully be answered.



Hello Christina,

    Well, ipe is a beautiful choice for natural wood decking. It is also one of the most dense, and most rigid woods in existence.

         I would recommend stainless screws to guarantee no rust. Some of the "coated" screws leave a lot to be desired in that regard. Also, prepare to go through some carbide blades and drill bits with ipe. :)

    You did not mention the size board of ipe you will be using, so obviously, spans vary greatly depending on that, and also on the layout. Assuming that you will be lying them perpendicular to the joists, and that you will be using what is called 4/4 x 6 aka 1 x 6 (same thing), of which the actual size is 3/4" x 5 1/2".....a span for example between joists of 24"o.c. will yield about 100psf(pounds per square foot). And a span of  32"o.c. will yield about 40psf.

    Basically, since deck building codes generally want to see about 40psf live load (expected load of the structure combined with reasonable maximum usage capacity), 16"o.c. equates to double overkill already. 12"o.c. would just be *extreme* overkill. Now if your particular ipe is going to be a little more than paper thin, I might go with a 12" joist span. I hope I just saved you some work (and lumber and $ too). :)

    I would recommend stainless screws to guarantee no rust. Some of the "coated" screws leave a lot to be desired in that regard. Also, prepare to go through some carbide blades and drill bits with ipe. :)


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Michael Romano


I can answer any questions relating to decks, porches, exterior stairs & railings, walkways, access ramps, pergolas, deck roofs, screen rooms, etc... These may include design ideas, footing to framing design & construction methods, various species of woods vs. composites & pvc/vinyl materials for decking, skirting, or railing applications. I also have expertise in various rain-free systems for under-deck storage & living spaces.


I have designed and built decks and many other types of outdoor structures for over 25 years for my own home improvement company. We also perform many other types of home improvements, including window & door installation, molding & trimwork, siding, basement finishing, siding, etc. Our main love however, is decks!

NADRA - The North American Deck and Railing Association. Several Small Business & Home Improvement Contractor Alliances & Associations.

I have written several articles over the years for,, and many other deck & construction related websites.

High School graduate. 2 years of Mechanical Drawing & Architecture classes. Vocational School graduate. 2 years of Construction Technology & Carpentry classes. Many years of reading, researching, and application in the real world.

Awards and Honors
I am certified by several decking manufacturers for expert application & installation of their products.

Past/Present Clients
Mainly local residential clients, and occasional commercial clients, including restaurants, nightclubs, office buildings, etc.

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