How Far Apart Should Posts Be On A Deck

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Learn Proper Deck Joist Spacing And How Far Apart Deck

How Far Apart Should Posts Be on a Deck?

In the realm of outdoor living, decks are the quintessential element, extending the comfort of our homes into the fresh air. Whether you’re hosting a summer barbecue or simply relaxing with a book, a well-constructed deck provides the perfect backdrop for memorable moments. But beyond its aesthetic appeal, the structural integrity of a deck is paramount for safety and longevity. One crucial aspect of this integrity is ensuring the optimal spacing between deck posts.

The distance between deck posts plays a pivotal role in distributing the weight of the deck and preventing sagging or buckling. Too wide spacing can compromise stability, while posts that are too close together can create an unappealing and cluttered appearance. Finding the ideal balance between these extremes is essential for a deck that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Spacing Requirements for Deck Posts

The recommended spacing for deck posts varies depending on the size and load capacity of the deck. The American Wood Council (AWC) publishes guidelines that specify the maximum allowable spacing for different deck sizes and post dimensions.

For decks up to 16 feet long, the recommended post spacing is 6 feet on center (OC). This means that the posts should be placed at intervals of 6 feet apart. For decks between 16 and 20 feet long, the post spacing should be reduced to 5 feet OC. Decks longer than 20 feet require posts to be spaced at 4 feet OC.

Factors Influencing Post Spacing

Several factors can influence the optimal spacing for deck posts beyond the general guidelines provided by the AWC. These factors include:

  • Deck size: Larger decks require closer post spacing to distribute the weight more evenly.
  • Post size: Thicker posts can span greater distances than thinner posts without sagging.
  • Load capacity: Decks intended for heavy use, such as those with hot tubs or built-in seating, require closer post spacing.

It’s always advisable to consult a licensed contractor or structural engineer for specific guidance on post spacing based on the unique characteristics of your deck design.

The Importance of Proper Post Spacing

Maintaining the appropriate spacing between deck posts is crucial for several reasons. Inadequate spacing can lead to:

  • Sagging or buckling: Posts that are too far apart will not adequately support the weight of the deck, leading to bowing or collapsing.
  • Rot and decay: Posts that are too close together create areas where moisture can accumulate, promoting rot and decay.
  • Uneven load distribution: Improperly spaced posts can result in uneven load distribution, putting unnecessary stress on some posts while leaving others underutilized.

Tips for Post Spacing

To ensure proper post spacing, consider the following tips:

  • Refer to the AWC guidelines as a starting point and adjust the spacing based on the specific details of your deck design.

* Use a chalk line or measuring tape to mark the centerlines of the posts before digging the holes.

* Set the posts temporarily in the holes and check the spacing with a level and measuring tape.

* Once the spacing is correct, fill the holes with concrete and tamp it down firmly.

FAQ on Post Spacing

Q: What is the recommended post spacing for a 12×16 deck?
A: The recommended post spacing for a 12×16 deck is 6 feet OC.

Q: Can I use smaller posts if I space them closer together?
A: No, the post size should be determined based on the load capacity of the deck, not the spacing.

Q: How do I ensure the posts are level and plumb?
A: Use a level to ensure that the posts are vertical, and a transit or string line to check that they are level in both directions.


Proper post spacing is an essential aspect of deck construction, ensuring the stability, longevity, and aesthetics of your outdoor living space. By adhering to industry guidelines, considering the factors that influence post spacing, and following the tips and advice provided in this article, you can build a deck that will provide years of enjoyment and peace of mind.

Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of post spacing, we invite you to further explore this topic and engage with our community. Share your experiences, ask questions, and connect with other deck enthusiasts on our forum or social media platforms. Your insights and questions can help us provide even more valuable information.

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