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I bought 12-foot-long 5/4 x 6 in pressure-treated pine deck board from Home Depot. Not until I laid them down did I notice that the boards' width tapers significantly toward the ends of each board. See the picture below. My deck is finished (as of last night—yay!), but just so I know for next time: is this kind of variation in width something I have to expect? Or was I just unlucky with what Home Depot had this week? Or can I avoid this buy shopping elsewhere?

Deck boards of uneven width

  • Is the taper even along the board, or is it all in the last foot or so? Is it on all the boards? – Rod Fitzsimmons Frey Jul 27 '10 at 14:26
  • All boards, mostly in the last two feet or so on each end. – Vebjorn Ljosa Jul 27 '10 at 14:31
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    I've never seen it that long before, but it sure sounds like planer snipe. – Rod Fitzsimmons Frey Jul 28 '10 at 19:45
  • I live in Australia and the equivalent is Bunnings here. I'd send the lot back if that happened here. – WOPR Dec 28 '10 at 8:43
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I've never noticed that before, but Home Depot sources their lumber from different mills, so they may vary slightly from batch to batch. It may also even out a bit as the wood dries.

One thing I did find, at least in my area, is that the 5/4 deck boards from Home Depot are significantly different than the ones at Lowes. The Lowes ones are slightly narrower but a bit thicker and the depot ones are thinner but slightly wider. Was very annoying when I got some boards from one place and more later from another only to find that they weren't really the same dimensions.

  • +1 Yeah, wait it out and see if the widths will even out when the boards dry in a couple of weeks/months. – Ates Goral Jul 29 '10 at 15:19
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This may come from different moisture levels in the wood. If the boards have been stacked with boards of different lengths, then the longest boards will have one end sticking out of the pile. This end will dry out more quickly than the rest of the board.

Pressure-treated are usually quite wet when you buy them, and become narrower as they dry. That is why it is also a good idea too have a very small gap between the deck boards when you lay them down, as this is likely to widen as the boards dry out.

  • In this case they were sold in lengths of exactly 12 ft. – Vebjorn Ljosa Dec 28 '10 at 10:07
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    This doesn't mean they were stored in lengths of exactly 12 feet. Some of the boards may have been stacked in with 8' lengths. – Alex Feinman Jan 3 '11 at 15:17
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It should match perfectly. I'd send it back and get a new lot as it's not fit for purpose. The edges could catch and splinter which can be a problem with bare feet. You can mitigate it by sanding the mismatch edges and sealing it with a good decking oil if you can't be bothered.

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