Ipe butt joint treatment and screw distance from edge

yanksfan_98October 24, 2007

First off, thanks to all the contributors on this site. I wouldn't even have attempted to build my own Ipe deck without this site.

First, the background:

I am about to start laying the 1x6 Ipe on my 24x16 deck. I will be screwing and plugging the boards (2 1/4 #10 SS 305 screws, 3/8 plugs, 1/8 board spacing). The decking pattern will be such that a single board will be perpendicular to the house and split the deck in half (two 12x16 sections). The rest of the boards will be parallel to the house.

Now a few questions:

1. Butt joint treatment between perpendicular boards. What do the pros recommend to treat these ends to minimize end cracks/checks? Anything? I was planning on leaving no gap here as with a normal butt joint. Good idea?

2. I am also unclear about how far from the butt end of the board to put the screw/plug. Will I need a piece of framing (screw block) to meet this requirement? Is it possible to put the scew in at an angle, but keep the plug straight?

3. Any tips on what people use as a spacer would be appreciated.

4. My countersink bit is the kind that has a tapered bit in the middle. Should I use this and go into the joist slightly or do I need a countersink without a pilot hole?

Ok, I have more questions than I thought, but I'll hold off...

Thanks in advance!


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For the most demanding high end Ipe Wallet I use tightbond111 on butt joints,I always make this joint the way it sounds I butt them together with or without glue. Down the road I have seen no differance between the ones with TB and the ones without far as endcheck goes. I does make a real nice smooth joint with the glue/sawdust/sanding thing Pretty Sweet.

Probley use a sister joist going with the plugs but I dont really know I always go T&G decking material for that look.
I do plug for rail detail in the high end using a forester bit,then the predrill.A lot of Folks seem to be happy using the combo setups its just too sloppy/clog up for me up against the perfect cut the forester makes. John

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 6:48PM
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We try to not have butt joints, but when we need to we screw little blocks onto the joists right under the butt joint. That way you can still screw a good inch from the deck's end, even with a beveled butt joint.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 10:36PM
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oh, and we always seal the end cuts, right before installing, usually with whatever we're using for the topside finish. I think it's very important to seal all end cuts to help cut down on end checks. T Bond III makes a good end sealer too.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 10:39PM
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John, Joe, thanks for the replies. I was hoping I might be ready to start decking, but it looks like a have a little bit more framing to do. Its starting to get cold here in MA and I'd really like to have the decking down before winter. Although, I'd rather take my time and get it right than rush it and do it wrong.

As for the forstner bit, is that something that can be done free hand with a drill? The countersink bit I have is very easy to place with the center bit. I would be worried about the bit walking on me.

How does the Tightbond work as an end sealer? Do I just paint it on? Do I have to avoid the face for stains? I probably don't have the time to go over the joints and seal them with sawdust/glue, but I sure would like to have the time.

When you guys plug, when do you put the plugs in? I only work on the weekends and I wasn't planning on plugging until the entire field was laid, but that could take a few weeks. How long do you think I have to install the plugs before the joists get affected by the pools of water?

Thanks again.

PS - I almost used the Deckmaster system until I came here and you guys talked me out of it!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 11:25PM
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You would have to see a forester bit to know what Im talking about. Its much better to install your plug while the cut is fresh,much much better.

Tightbond 111 is a water proof glue we usually finger it on. just be carefull not to over do, too much will leave a slight dark area. J.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 7:54AM
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yanksfan (i'm a yankee fan too)

A yankee fan in MA...must be tough watching the world series. I hate the Sox, but I gotta say that they have an awesome team, and will win it all.

more to the point...
Joe and John pretty much covered it...but I'd like to add that titebond, an excellent adhesive, is full of water...and is not very effective in cold weather. It gets chalky, and not suitable for plugging.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 5:43PM
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Its tough being a NY (Lynbrook, Long Island) transplant in MA. I have been here since 2000 and its been getting harder every year and when the Sox complete this old fashioned beating on the Rockies its going to be that much harder.

I didn't give the Tightbond much thought, but after looking at the website it seems that application must be above 47 degrees and they rate it stable for 5 freeze/thaw cycles. Thats not great.

Are you worried about the cold weather application or long term holding power? What is your experience in the Northeast with glueing plugs? Do you use something else like a poly based glue maybe?

Go Yankees!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 11:42PM
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I'm not worried about long term holding power, because I know that any glue is going to fail over time. How could adhesives withstand the ravages of time, weather and the movement of the wood that you apply the glue to? I'm more concerned with short term (getting the job done to my satisfaction)...I don't plug decks in cold weather...period. Titebond won't work, and I don't want to mess with poly adhesives...too messy. I use brown Headcote trim screws, which are a good alternative.

back to plugging...I have revisited deck jobs years later, and the plugs are still good, except for one thing. They are all proud of the deck surface by a 64th" or so. just enough to catch a fingernail. That's ok with me...not a toe stubber.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 7:06PM
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Sure enough, I was out there this afternoon and spread some Tightbond3 on the end of the first board I cut and it immediately turned all white. It was at least 50 and sunny so I thought it would be fine, but not.

I've got 1500 SS screws to return to Swan Secure I guess....bummer...

I should have gotten on here sooner. Thanks for all the help.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 8:56PM
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I have 1"x 3/16 metal 10' long that i'm using for spacer.I bought a Smart Bit drill tool.Spiral 1/8 drill bit for fast drilling with countersink.Check them out on line.Available from Sears & Manasquan screw in N.J.Got best price on deck screws stainless steel #7 sq drive from Eagle tool Milford Delaware.3000 pcs.for $118.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 5:48PM
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I've found that spiral pilot hole bits tend to grab in ipe.

Did I say that we seal the ends of those short screw blocks? Actually we seal pretty much all end cuts for everything except for the cut joist ends.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 8:34PM
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