Running Decking Parallel: Common Practice with Alternatives

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Decking is essential to any outdoor living space, providing an inviting and functional area for relaxation and entertainment. When you are putting in decking boards, the most typical method is to install the boards parallel to the home. 

While this approach is beneficial, looking at different options is vital to make sure you select the most appropriate decking design for your requirements. In this article, we’ll discuss running decking parallel, its benefits, and other patterns to consider.

We’ll also delve into the world of composite decking, a popular choice for its durability and low maintenance requirements.


Running decking parallel refers to installing deck boards in a horizontal direction parallel to the house or the primary structure. This pattern has been widely adopted due to its simplicity and familiarity.

However, it’s important to note that running decking parallel is not the only choice available. By exploring different patterns, you can enhance the visual appeal of your deck and create a unique outdoor space.

Benefits of Running Decking Parallel

  1. Enhanced Visual Appeal:

Running decking boards parallel creates a clean and streamlined look that complements various architectural styles. The parallel lines draw the eye and give the illusion of an elongated space, making your deck appear larger and more visually appealing.

  1. Efficient Use of Materials:

When running decking parallel, you can make efficient use of standard-sized deck boards, minimizing waste and reducing costs. This pattern allows for easy cutting and fitting of boards, optimizing material usage without sacrificing structural integrity.

  1. Simplified Installation Process:

Running decking parallel simplifies the installation process, especially for those with limited experience. The straightforward nature of this pattern makes it accessible to DIY enthusiasts and contractors alike, saving time and effort during construction.

Alternatives to Running Decking Parallel

While running decking parallel is a popular choice, there are alternative patterns that can add character and visual interest to your deck. Consider the following options:

  1. Diagonal Decking Pattern:

Installing deck boards diagonally creates a dynamic and visually captivating pattern. The diagonal lines break up the monotony of parallel lines, making your deck stand out. This pattern is particularly suitable for larger deck areas or when you want to create a focal point.

  1. Herringbone Decking Pattern:

The herringbone pattern involves arranging the deck boards in a V-shaped or zigzag formation. This intricate pattern adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to your deck, making it a perfect choice for more formal settings or to create a statement piece.

  1. Picture Frame Decking Pattern:

The picture frame pattern involves using a different colored or styled border around the deck perimeter while running the main deck boards parallel. This pattern adds a visual frame to your deck, elevating the overall aesthetic and providing a polished and finished look.

Factors to Consider when Choosing a Decking Pattern

When deciding on a decking pattern, it’s essential to consider various factors to ensure you make an informed choice. These factors include:

  1. Aesthetic Preferences:

Consider your personal style and the overall aesthetic you want to achieve. Some patterns may align better with certain architectural styles or blend seamlessly with the surrounding landscape.

  1. Structural Considerations:

decking patterns have varying requirements in terms of joist spacing and support. Ensure that your chosen pattern is structurally sound and meets building codes and regulations.

  1. Maintenance Requirements:

Some decking patterns may require more maintenance than others. Consider factors such as the ease of cleaning, sealing, and repairing the deck boards when making your decision.

How to Install Decking in a Parallel Pattern

If you decide to go with the traditional parallel decking pattern, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you with the installation process:

  1. Preparation and Planning:

Measure and plan the dimensions of your deck. Clear the area of any obstacles, and ensure the ground is level and adequately prepared for the deck installation.

  1. Measuring and Marking:

Begin by measuring and marking the layout of the deck. Use chalk lines or string to mark the outer edges and joist positions.

  1. Securing the Deck Boards:

Start at one end of the deck and attach the first board, ensuring it is flush with the outer edge and properly aligned. Use galvanized screws or hidden fastening systems to secure the boards to the joists, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Leave a small gap between each board for expansion and drainage.

  1. Continue installing the remaining boards, working your way across the deck. Cut the boards to fit the desired length using a saw, if necessary. Use a level to ensure the boards are straight and level throughout the installation process.
  2. After all the boards have been put in place, you should thoroughly check the deck for floating screws and boards. Do any adjustments or repairs before proceeding.

Maintenance Tips for Parallel Decking

To keep your parallel decking looking its best and ensure its longevity, follow these maintenance tips:

  1. Regular Cleaning:

Sweep or use a leaf blower to remove debris and leaves from the deck surface regularly. Clean the deck with a mild detergent and water solution to remove dirt and stains. Avoid using harsh chemicals or power washing, as they may damage the deck boards.

  1. Inspecting for Damage:

Periodically inspect the deck for signs of wear, rot, or damage. Check for loose boards, popped screws, or any structural issues. Address any problems promptly to prevent further damage.

  1. Protecting Against Moisture:

Apply a water-resistant sealant or stain to protect the deck boards from moisture penetration, UV rays, and mold growth. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and reapplication timelines.


Exploring Composite Decking Options

The composite decking option is the preferred choice for homeowners due to its long-lasting durability and low maintenance requirements and its aesthetic appeal. Composite decking is made of a mix of recycled plastic and wood fibers, composite decking provides many benefits over traditional wooden decking. Consider the following when exploring composite decking options:

  1. Benefits of Composite Decking: Composite decking is highly resistant to rot, insects, and warping. It does not require staining, sealing, or painting like natural wood. Composite decking is also available in an array of shades, textures, and styles, which allows you to personalize your outdoor space. 
  2. Selecting the best composite decking Materials: There are many kinds of composite decking that are available, each with its distinct features and prices.  Be aware of factors such as durability, slip resistance, warranties as well as environmental impact when choosing the best decking material.
  3. Installing Composite Decking: Composite decking installation follows similar steps to traditional wood decking. However , it’s important to note a few differences:
  4. Ensure that the joist spacing is suitable for the specific composite decking material you’re using, as it may have different requirements than wood.
  5. Use appropriate fasteners recommended by the manufacturer for composite decking to ensure proper installation and avoid potential issues.
  6. Follow the installation guidelines that are provided by the company that manufactures the composite decking material you choose to get the best results and keep any warranties.  

With the many composite decking options, it is possible to build a stunning and durable deck that requires little maintenance.


While running decking parallel is a common choice, it’s important to explore alternative decking patterns to add visual interest and enhance your outdoor space. Consider factors such as aesthetics, structural requirements, and maintenance when choosing the right decking pattern for your needs.

If you opt for running decking parallel, ensure proper installation and maintenance to enjoy its benefits. Additionally, consider composite decking as a durable and low-maintenance alternative to traditional wood decking.

When you explore different possibilities and weigh your needs and preferences, You can build an amazing deck that compliments your home and offers an inviting outdoor space for many years to follow.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is running decking parallel the only option for a visually appealing deck?

No, there are alternative patterns such as diagonal, herringbone, and picture frame decking that can add unique visual appeal to your deck.

What are the advantages of composite decking?

Composite decking is durable, resistant to rot and insects, requires minimal maintenance, and offers a wide range of styles and colors.

Are there any specific maintenance requirements for parallel decking?

Regular cleaning, inspection for damage, and applying a protective sealant are important for maintaining the quality and longevity of parallel decking.

Can I install composite decking in a diagonal or herringbone pattern?

Yes, composite decking can be installed in various patterns, including diagonal and herringbone, as long as the manufacturer’s guidelines are followed.

Where can I find more information about installing and maintaining decks?

You can refer to decking manufacturers’ websites, home improvement guides, or consult with professionals in the industry for detailed information and guidance.

Read related articles: How to Build a Floating Deck Step by Step Guide

How To Build Composite Deck Stairs: A Step-by-Step Guide

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