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2×6 Vs 5/4 Decking: What Are the Differences? (Explained)

There are different decking sizes available and all of them do not serve the same purpose. Depending on the thickness of the decking, the decking becomes sturdy. While the length gives it support and the width makes it stable.

Following the below tips and information regarding 2×6 and 5/4 decking, you would know their difference and the purpose they serve.

2×6 vs 5/4 Decking: What are the differences?

2×6 and 5/4 decking has huge differences. They differ in thickness, width, joist span, cost, strength, and many things. However, 2×6 is more stable and durable than 5/4 decking because of its width and thickness. Moreover, the joist span is also larger than 2×6 which can save money.

2×6 and 5/4 decking are totally different yet they are the smallest deck anyone can choose. These two do not provide stability as other decks yet are good for using in flat places or in structural frames. Some differences between them are given below to help you to choose.


The main difference between 5/4 decking and 2×6 is the thickness. The 2×6 decking is 1.5 inches thick meanwhile 5/4 is 1 inch thick. On the other hand, 5/4 decking can have a wide range of lengths.


The width of both 5/4 decking and 2×6 decking is different. The width has a difference of ½ an inch. Here, 5/4 has a width of 1 inch and 2×6 has a width of 1 ½ inch. This shows 2×6 decking is more stable than 5/4. Due to the width, 2×6 can be used in structural framing.

Strength and lighter:

As the 2×6 decking is thicker than 5/4, it makes the 2/6 decking more sturdy. For strong flat spaces or places, you can choose 2/6. Moreover, due to the smaller thickness, it may not be as strong as other deckings with greater strength.

Apart from that, you can place stuff in 2×6 decking yet those should not be heavier. 2×6 is not for placing heavy material on it. 2×6 is also lighter but that depends on the length too.

Joist span:

The joist span in 2×6 is greater than the 5/4 decking. The joist span in 5/4 decking is at least 16 inches while 2×6 requires a span of 24 inches. In the case of building a 5/4 decking, you would require more lumber. For the same amount of space. If you are using a 2×6 decking, the lumber number can be reduced to half.

Because the minimum space should be kept between the lumber. Where 2×6 requires more joist span than 5/4.


5/4 decking needs more lumber than a 2×6 decking. As a result, while using 5/4, you would need more woods to build the decking. This would definitely cost more. The quality of the wood would decide how much it would cost. Still, the number of lumbers needed would decide how much wood you need.

How far can a 5×4 deck board Span?

The 5×4 deck board can span up to 16 inches. The joist span in the deck board may vary from 16 inches to 24 inches. In the case of a 5×4 deck, it is only 16 inches. You should not keep the span less than this. The span is to make place for the wood to span.

Deck board spacing is necessary as it provides space for drainage and ventilation. If you are building the deck on the floor, you need proper ventilation as well. Apart from that, the woods span in width and length. You need spacing to provide space for the wood to span.

As 5×4 uses less wood and has little thickness, the spanning of the wood is not higher either. You should keep this 16-inch space during building the deck to avoid future damages.

How far can a 2×6 deck board Span?

A 2×6 deck board can span up to 24 inches. Some can also span to 16 inches. Well, it will still be in the range. The 2×6 deck boards are quite expensive in comparison to 5/4 decking. Even the spanning in 2×6 deck boards is higher which creates a lot of complexity.

On the other hand, the spacing of 24 inches reduces the amount of lumber. You can use a few and fill the decking. Yet, the price is costly. Moreover, the thickness of the 2×6 deck board allows it to span more.

Well, 2×6 deck boards are not stable enough to carry huge loads. You can have rails or stairs on it. But the decking should be near the ground level. You can rather place it on the poolside or floor decks.

Should you prefer 2×6 or 5/4 board for your deck?

You should go with a 2×6 deck board unless you are concerned with the price. The 2×6 deck boards are as popular as 5/4 for the ground-level works. They are the smallest deck boards. There are other deck boards of huge size which provide better stability.

2×6 deck boards are sturdy as they are thick. This makes them able to carry more weights than 5/4. Yet, they can not take high loads. You have to place them near to the ground. Well, you can use railings on it. Meanwhile, you can not find this much facility by using 5/4.

5/4 is not stable as 2×6. Moreover, the price of the 5/4 is less than 2×4 decks. But you may require more lumber if you are using 5/4 as they have less span than 2×4 decks. You should choose 2×6 deck boards as they can be trustworthy and may save some cost.

What is the best size for deck boards?

There are several deck boards in use. They differ in instability and in use. You can choose deck sizes according to your needs. All of those have different thicknesses, lengths, and widths. Some of the best sizes for deck boards are given below.

4×8 decking:

4×8 decking has a width of 3 ½ and a length of 7 ½. It is widely used for making beam structures. You can make the beam structure by using 4×8 decks. It provides stability and due to its thickness, it is sturdy and carries a huge load.

2×6 decking:

2×6 deck sizes are mostly used for decks that are built near the ground. You can try making the poolside or turning extra space into a decorative deck by using a 2×6 deck. Though it can not carry a huge load, it is able to carry average weight. Do not put too much load.

6 feet wide:

Decks having 6 feet width are mostly chosen for various purposes. It provides good coverage and takes up space. You do not need an extra edition of lumber. As it has a large width, it is sturdy and heavier to hold the load. Apart from that, the thickness should be at least 1 ½ to provide support.

How to choose deck boards?

Choosing deck boards wisely is required to give a perfect structure to the deck. Otherwise, the boards can often have problems that are unfixable. You can not remove every single lumber when there is a problem. You can follow the below steps to choose the right deck boards.

Measure the space:

You need to measure the space where you are putting the deck or building it. Depending on the space, you would need to put in lumber. You need a perfect plan for that. Some may choose 12×12 decking for a wide place. Or some may go with smaller sizes.

Dimensions and span:

The dimensions of the deck boards vary so as the span. The thickness of most of the boards is 1 ½ inches except for a 5/4 deck. The thickness ensures how sturdy the deck can be. Moreover, the length should cover the area and the width would give space and support to the deck.

Moreover, a larger span requires less lumber yet there are complexities. You should keep the span in mind while setting the lumber.

Choose Material:

There are available lumbers which are either treated or not. Some are also made of different quality woods. Natural woods are better than treated woods. Yet they are expensive. Moreover, there are lumbers made of cedarwood, redwood, and different quality woods.

Final Thoughts

Overall, 2×6 and 5/4 decking are different in dimensions, cost, use, joist span stability. If you compare both, 2×6 decking provides greater facility than 5/4 even though 2×6 is not as stable as another decking. You should keep the minimum joist span to make the deck sturdy and long-lasting.