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  1. #1
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    Default mitered decking corners

    Since wood decking expands and contracts with moisture, keeping mitered corners tight is a challenge.

    What solutions have you come up with to handle this?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: mitered decking corners

    Quote Originally Posted by S.Joisey View Post
    Since wood decking expands and contracts with moisture, keeping mitered corners tight is a challenge.

    What solutions have you come up with to handle this?
    I don't worry about keeping the mitered corners of PT wood decking together. But what I keep seeing is, after time the short-points always open up, but never the long-points. So if I ever do a PT deck again, I will not miter them at 45. Probably pick a degree that would have the long-points open by about a quarter-inch.

    May sound crazy to some, but barring that, you could get the decking acclimated to site conditions for a few months before you install it I suppose. The problem (and I'm referring to 5/4x6 PT) is you are going to have temp/humidity swings that are dependent on where you live. (Remember that when reading the answers from the guys in SO Cal.) In my area, we get extreme changes. You're not going to be able to keep the miters closed year-round.

    You bring up a good thing to make sure the customer knows about, however.

    Here's a possible scenario: Customer calls you 6 months after deck is built, complaining about open miters. You fall back on the "It's-wood-in-an-outdoor-environment..." explanation, basically saying that's what happens. He tells you he heard about using biscuits...why didn't you use them...etc. But then after a long discussion, he tells you that since you knew this would happen, you should have warned him, and given him the option to have built the deck differently. And I believe he'd be correct, and you'd have a problem.

    Tom
    1) Unconsciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows not that he knows not. He is a fool. Shun him.
    2) Consciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows that he knows not. He is simple. Teach him.
    3) Unconsciously Competent: He knows, and knows not that he knows. He is asleep. Wake him.
    4) Consciously Competent: He knows, and knows that he knows. He is wise. Follow him.

    May we all endeavor to progress from not knowing that we know not, to knowing that we know.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Default Re: mitered decking corners

    You need to have nice dry, stable straight grained stock to limit that movement, then the only way I'd trust the joint staying closed would be to use thru splines like we did on the top cap here.
    http://woodsshop.com/PROJECTS/Cable-...ck-Railing.htm

  4. #4
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    Dec 2005
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    Brookfield, Western CT
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    Default Re: mitered decking corners

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Wood View Post
    You need to have nice dry, stable straight grained stock to limit that movement, then the only way I'd trust the joint staying closed would be to use thru splines like we did on the top cap here.
    http://woodsshop.com/PROJECTS/Cable-...ck-Railing.htm
    That might hold up in your neck of the woods, Joe, but I wouldn't bet the ranch on it in S. Joisey or in MD where the climate changes are far more extreme. It would take far more than a spline to hold that miter joint closed for any length of time under these conditions.
    JoeH

    There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (TANSTAAFL) -Robert A Heinlein

  5. #5
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    Default Re: mitered decking corners

    Joe Wood- went back and looked at the railcap miter photo again; looks like the high-tension cable-rail system is doing the most to hold that miter closed............
    JoeH

    There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (TANSTAAFL) -Robert A Heinlein

  6. #6
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    Default Re: mitered decking corners

    Ya Joe but what else can you do with a mitered corner?
    Last edited by Joe Wood; 10-05-2009 at 08:33 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: mitered decking corners

    I always gap and pillow miters. We get way too much swing in moisture for anything to stay tight. Rather than trying to fight nature (who's gonna win over time?) I think it's best to have the design reflect and work with what will happen.
    http://www.lavrans.com

    "He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts; for support rather than illumination." -Andrew Lang

  8. #8
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    Default Re: mitered decking corners

    That's a cool deck, Joe., and a good spline detail. Oldguy's right, though. It would pull apart here.

    This will be a mahogany deck. Actually, I'll be re-rebuilding a deck. It was rebuilt last year by a contractor who took the money, did a lousy job, and went bankrupt. The owner saw a deck I made this spring and asked me to right her deck's wrongs. Felt like a compliment.

    The decking corners have really pulled apart, so I'd like to make sure I do better.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: mitered decking corners

    Quote Originally Posted by Lavrans View Post
    I always gap and pillow miters. We get way too much swing in moisture for anything to stay tight. Rather than trying to fight nature (who's gonna win over time?) I think it's best to have the design reflect and work with what will happen.
    Gap and pillow? Can you explain?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: mitered decking corners

    Quote Originally Posted by S.Joisey View Post
    Gap and pillow? Can you explain?
    I couldn't find a close up shot of a mitered corner. Here's an in-progress shot- this is an Ipe deck that I installed a few months ago. The Ipe was glued and face nailed with SS trim heads. I installed with a gap of about 3/16 between any boards, whether butting end-to-end or at miters. Pillow is just a local term for routing a small radius on the corners- these are a 1/8" radius that matches the milling on the decking. Avoiding sharp edges reduces how visible any difference in the angle of miters; you don't notice as much when the gap changes as moisture content changes.

    Second picture is reference of deck & railing completed, but before the skirt was installed.
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    http://www.lavrans.com

    "He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts; for support rather than illumination." -Andrew Lang

  11. #11
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    Default Re: mitered decking corners

    I saw a guy do a deck with mitered corners. As he explained it to me it went like this.

    He cut a miter on each board and then butt the boards together tight.

    Once all the decking is done he set his circular saw to the depth of the deck boards.

    He now re cuts all the miters with his circular saw and a guide board.

    He cuts the gap so that it is about the same size as the gaps between the boards.

    Then I think he took a cheap router bit with a small steel bearing post-not a ball bearing bit-and routes the edges.

    Says it makes all the gaps and edges look uniform and like that is supposed to be that way.

    Only saw him do that on one deck but as I recall I thought it looked pretty good.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Kent UK
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    3,152

    Default Re: mitered decking corners

    a mitre joint on a deck, especially if it is picture framed deck, is like most people say, a movable feast due to seasonal movement

    in reality. what you MUST achieve is a level (flat) joint that avoids a trip hazard or a large visible differance in hight

    what you cant avoid (and must allow for ) is a movable joint width

    in some situations a dominoed joint may be an answer
    Limey Carpenter

  13. #13
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    Default Re: mitered decking corners

    Joe Wood- Didn't mean to imply that your work wasn't very nicely executed; it is. Just sayin' that it's wood, it's outside, and it's gonna move. Although, as I said, with that wire rail system being highly tensioned the movement may be limited.
    The spline is definitely a good idea and a nice craftsmanlike touch which will help keep the joint in plane, whatever happens.
    I kind of like the "post-kerfed" approach beezo described, too, for looks.
    JoeH

    There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (TANSTAAFL) -Robert A Heinlein

  14. #14
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    Default Re: mitered decking corners

    butt joints are better. 'round here a 5-1/2" board can gap 3/8" across a 45 miter.
    A few years back we did a deck with 3-1/4" T & G ipe. Besides the 1x4 perimeter ripping biscuits in half at the miters, the main deck floor pushed one perimeter board out an additional 5/8" or so.

  15. #15
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    Dec 2007
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    Default Re: mitered decking corners

    I also like to round over the miters. Then I screw them down, and I screw them together at the points. The roundovers are good at hiding any gaps...much more forgiving than a flush butt joint. I always work with ipe, which has less movement. I wouldn't try miters with ACQ pine.
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    Steve -- www.urbanexteriors.biz

    We don't stop playing because we grow old...we grow old because we stop playing.

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