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.



Hi Christine.

I like 12" on center as well. But for my money, I would simply replace all the joists. For the minimal investment that the structural wood would require, the insurance it provides would be priceless. Putting new surfaces on old structures just invites problems down the road.

I am a fan of HeadCote screws. Just be sure they're stainless. And be prepared to buy a lot of HeadCote Smart Bits, as Ipe is ridiculously hard, and you'll need to predrill every screw hole.

Also, be prepared to maintain that deck every year, unless it's an aged, gray surface that you want.

I hope that I've answered your question. Please feel free to write with others, or for clarification.

Best of luck.

Gary J Daley, America's DeckBuilder LLC


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Gary J Daley


I can answer questions regarding decks, railings, screen enclosures and other backyard home improvement projects. As a recognized expert in new-age materials, I have a hands-on knowledge of cutting-edge composite and vinyl products.


In business here in South Jersey for twelve-plus years, I have won awards recognizing my expertise in high-end deck and lanai design and construction. Based in Barnegat and Toms River, New Jersey, my crew is building affordable quality throughout all of New Jersey.

Director, The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA). Member, New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA)

Professional Deck Builder Magazine; The Currents of New Jersey; The BeachComber News, of Brigantine, NJ.

BA in Journalism (minor in English), 1995, Penn State University.

Awards and Honors
2009 New Jersey NADRA Deck of the Year: Categories Best Low Maintenance Deck under 500 square feet; Best Overall deck project. 2010 New Jersey NADRA Deck of the Year: Category: Best Low Maintenance Deck Under 500 square feet.

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