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How to Install a Picture Frame Deck Edge

How many times has it been that a deck board is installed and the exposed end remains pristine as the day it was installed. Over time these ends start getting dull and rough over time. Sometimes there would be cracks and splits and other times the wood may cup which gives a very bad look and aesthetic to the deck.

How to Install a Picture Frame Deck Edge

One method of mitigating this problem is to install a trim board across the perimeter of the entire deck that is exposed. This minimizes damage to the cut ends of the deck boards as they are now protected by a finished board running in the opposite direction. This is called Picture framing or sometimes racetrack decking as these are straight horizontal planks placed on the sides of a deck.


Firstly, blocking needs to be installed between every joist where the picture frame boards will be parallel to the joists. A short deck board may be required depending on the deck perimeter design. You should keep these general installation practices in mind when you install them. Make sure that no composite decking is supported by less than three joists below. Install additional support between the standard spacing whenever a separate short piece is needed to complete the frame. The contact area between the decking boards and the support should also be minimized as this would allow the wood to not bear any additional load than necessary for the frame.


There are times when the trim board is installed by some deck builder over the edge of the rim joist and about an inch in order to tuck the fascia board neatly underneath it. This would not only improve the look of your deck by making it give a cleaner look but also would be helpful to drain the water off the boards' edge.


Preplanning is important when it comes to installing rail posts and the rail system will be intersecting with the surrounding decking as if it is not planned then it would make the deck much less clean overall.


Read more: Deck Patterns, Layouts & Design Ideas


Creating Support for the decking border

Blocking should be installed level to the top of the frame along the sides of the deck and at the very least 16” on the center. Scrap material can also be used for blocking. It is recommended to use scrap material as this would convert what was already waste generated on items that have been bought already as this would use the scrap in a meaningful way minimizing waste, increasing efficiency, and ultimately saving money.


Running the Border

Install the picture frame border with your desired overhang. Whenever you are taking measurements for installing a picture frame border take into consideration the thickness of the skirting or fascia boards that will be installed against the frame below. The thicker the fascia or skirting that will be installed the more the overhang of the border should be.


Adjusting the rail posts

The picture frame border should be notched to leave a gap for the rail posts. Leave a ⅛” to a ¼” gap for the composite or wooden decking to space properly when it expands or contracts thermally. Wooden picture frame decking can be notched flush with the post.


Picture framing along the house walls (Optional)

You can choose to continue this picture frame along the house wall if that is the look that you desire. You might need to cut and adjust the picture frame according to the corners that it will be going around. Usually, it is a 45-degree miter cut to adjust for 90-degree wall corners. You might need to properly cut deck boards to prevent incoherent deck designs too.


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