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, Regarding the joists, I have found that using old joists on a re-deck sometimes causes certain challenges. One being that the joists over time loose there crown. Most all material has a crown it is a bow in the board you can see if it is looked at up and down, just like a crown in a bridge. This crown goes up. If the new joists have a crown and the old ones have lost their's then you will get humps. Also old joists tend to get very hard over time petrified almost and when you screw into them they will snap the screws. I would go with all new joists or only screw into the new ones. The material you are wanting to use is nice but it is very hard. All the screws have to be pre-drilled and it would look better if you countersunk all the screws so they are flush. Also the Ipe is a carcinogen wood wear a mask when cutting. The manufacturer also recommends sealing the cut ends with a wax type sealer. Once it is installed and stained it is a beautiful floor but it is allot of work. Good luck and don't forget the flashing. Also you should probably use stainless steel screws. Let me know if I can be of any other assistance.


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Eugene Clayton


I would be happy to answer any question reguarding the construction of decks, composites verses natural materials, structure support systems,railing applications,stair design, how to figure stairs etc.. Pretty much anything that has to do with decks and or porches.


I have been in the construction industry for over 27 years including new home construction, custom deck and screen porches. Most of my expertise is from framing custom homes for over 20 years. I now own and opperate a very successful custom deck and screen porch company in Atlanta Ga.

High school graduate

©2017 All rights reserved.