Picture Frame Decking Tips

Picture framing decking is becoming quite popular among home owners and deck builders.

It really sets even the most basic backyard deck apart from the rest and with minimal to zero material cost increase and only a bit more labor.

There are two common styles; a 45 degree miter frame corner or a butt joint frame.

Each style has some unique characteristics you should consider before you decide what to use.

Miter Joint Frame

Deck surface with picture frame design

This is the finished appearance. The deck boards in the field are perpendicular to the joists.

You will notice that there is always one board that runs parallel to the joist.

In order to support that perimeter frame board, blocking at 16" o.c. is required between the rim joist and the penultimate joist beside it.

Deck structure to support picture frame deck boards

You can see in this next illustration how one might wish to frame for a miter joist picture frame layout.

The diagonal blocking keeps an air space and allows moisture near the joint to dry faster. A smaller blocking piece supports the end of the decking board.

You can see here how it all comes together. A picture frame deck is definitely a bit more work to get it right but the end result is beautiful.

Keep in mind that miter joists are likely to separate at the inside corner because boards shrink more across their width than length.

Construction adhesive, biscuits and starting with dry wood are your best chance to stop this.

Butt Joint Frame

Deck surface with Butt Joint design

A butt joint is a nice way to frame your deck like a picture also. And this style of picture frame decking has the advantage that you don't have to worry about the corner joints separating like in a 45 degree miter.

This illustration shows two courses of perimeter framing border boards. You could just as easily use only a single board to make your border.

But there is no denying that it looks really nice. And from experience I can tell you its quicker than trying to cut really accurate 45 degree miters and stop them from shrinking apart.

Deck structure to support Butt Joint deck boards

When we remove the deck boards, the secret of the framing below is revealed. This is but one way you can frame.

You will notice in this example that the blocking supports the ends of two boards. You may wish to build a more elaborate frame so that each board has its own blocking to sit on.

There really is no limit to how fancy you can get. It is a bit of extra labor to do this however.

And to sum it all up, you can see exactly how the two elements work together to create a visual treat to the eye and still functions properly.

I highly recommend you consider try one of these simple picture frame decking techniques on your next deck.

And I guarantee your neighbors will be turning their heads.

This article is from the 2011 Spring issue of our Deck INSIDER newsletter. If you're interested in getting knowledge, tips, and tricks about all aspects of decks straight to your email, sign up below or click here to learn more.

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