Everyone wants a deck floor that is durable and best suited for their outdoor areas because it contributes largely to the appearance of a building.

However, there are various measurements of wood that are used for deck floors, and making the right pick is a bit tricky.

If you’ve narrowed your options between 2×6 or 2×8 joists, you’ll find out which is best suited for deck floors as you read further.

You should use 2×8 instead of 2×6 joists for deck floors if you’re targeting a durable floor and no construction complications. This is because 2×8 joists are thicker, which makes them stronger and able to cover more floor space. 2×8 joists are also less likely to cause an unwanted spring or bounce while you walk across your deck floors.

In this article, I’ll explain which joist is the best for deck floors between 2×6 and 2×8 and if you can combine them for deck floors.

By the end, you’ll know if a 2×6 joist is better than a 2×8 for flooring and which is more economical.

Ready for a Flooring Quiz?

2×6 or 2×8: Which Is Best for Deck Floors?

2x6 or 2x8 for Deck Floor

For several reasons, 2×8 joists are better than 2x6s for constructing deck floors, making it a glaring choice.

Deck floors require large, sturdy, squeak-free joists, able to withstand heavy weights, moisture-resistant, and treated to ward off bacteria.

Interestingly, 2×8 joists have all the features mentioned above, while 2x6s lack most of them.

Below are the points to consider in making an informed decision when choosing joists for deck floors;

#1. The Strength of the Joists

You need a deck with incredibly strong floors to avoid making repairs every few years when they begin to falter.

This makes strength and durability the most important thing to consider when deciding between 2×6 or 2×8 joists for your deck floors.

2×6 joists are known to have a moderate strength capacity when used in flooring because they can handle typical loads but not heavy weights.

If you’re likely to place heavy chairs or appliances like heavy-weight grills on your deck floor, 2×6 joists will not serve you properly.

On the other hand, 2×8 joists boast of their ability to support heavier loads without cracking, so they’re the best option for deck floors.

#2. The Span Capacity of the Joists

A deck made from joists with a longer span capacity gives you a spacious deck and the ability to choose lovelier designs.

2×6 joists have spanning limits that might not favor people who would love to build spacious deck floors.

They have a span of 7 ft and 7 inches when they’re 24 inches apart or 9 ft and 11 inches when placed 12 inches apart. 

This capacity will only suffice for persons wanting a small deck floor and a minimal deck design.

Unlike 2×6, 2×8 joists span up to 9 ft and 8 inches when they’re 24 inches apart or 13 ft and 1 inch when spaced 12 inches apart.

This large span capacity makes 2×8 joists a better-suited option for people who prefer large and spacious deck floors.

#3. The Load-Bearing Capacity of the Joists

Decks are outdoors and are likely to hold a good amount of weight from time, so the floors must have a remarkable load-bearing capacity.

A deck with 2×6 joists can support a load of 53 pounds per linear ft. It can also hold a live load of 40 pounds per sq/ft and a dead load of 10 pounds per sq/ft.

On the other hand, a deck made from 2×8 joists has a larger load-bearing capacity of 70 pounds per linear foot.

It can also support a live load that weighs 50 pounds per square foot and a dead load that weighs 10 pounds per square foot.

#4. The Joists’ Proneness to Deflection

The deflective capability of your joists determines whether your deck floors are sturdy and balanced.

2×6 joists are more prone to detection than 2×8 because they bend and sag easily when heavy loads are placed on them.

However, 2×8 joists are less prone to detection because of their ability to support heavy loads without bending or sagging.

For further understanding, below is a table that clearly outlines the differences between 2×6 and 2×8 joists:

2×6 Joists2×8 Joists
It is reasonably strong.It is much stronger than 2×6 joists.
It has a load-bearing capacity of 53 pounds per linear ft.It has a load-bearing capacity of 70 pounds per linear ft.
It’s best suited for building small decks.It’s best suited for building large decks.
It’s more prone to deflection because of its average strength.It’s less prone to deflection because it’s stronger.
It’s 2 inches thick and 6 inches wide.It’s 2 inches thick and 8 inches wide.
It’s suitable for decks with short spans.It’s suitable for decks with long spans.
It’s a more affordable option for decking and flooring.It’s a more expensive option for decking and flooring.

Is a 2×6 Joist Better than a 2×8 for Flooring?

2×6 and 2×8 joists are both great choices for flooring, but certain factors determine which of them is the best choice for your flooring.

If you’re targeting a floor that requires wood with a short span, go with 2×6 instead of 2×8 joists.

That way, you can save money and stay within the boundaries of a short-spanned floor without hassle.

However, if you want a floor with a larger expanse and a heavy-weight bearing capacity, you should use 2×8 joists.

This is because they span a wider area and can also serve as a durable choice for sub-flooring if the need arises.

Additionally, you can choose the perfect joists for your flooring based on the span of the floors and how it aligns with the joist measurements.

If your floor’s span is 6 feet or less, you should stick with 2×6 joists, but if its span is 8 feet or less, use 2x8s instead.

Essentially, both 2×6 and 2×8 joists are amazing choices for flooring as long as they match your required floor measurements.

Can You Combine 2×6 and 2×8 for Deck Floor?

You can combine 2×6 and 2×8 joists for a deck floor, but it would be a tedious and complicated feat to achieve.

You’ll also require professional advice on whether it violates your community’s housing codes or requirements before proceeding.

However, it is not an impossible job to pull off as long as the measurement and spacing are tweaked to match.

You must ensure that the spacing between the 2×6 and 2×8 joists is calculated to increase the stiffness of your deck floors.

Interestingly, combining 2×6 and 2×8 joists gives your deck floor the incredible shear and congressional strength of both.

However, sticking to 2×6 or 2×8 joists is advisable instead of going through the hassle of combining them.

Which is More Economical for Flooring: 2×6 or 2×8? 

2×6 joists are a more economical choice for flooring in comparison to 2x8s because of their price differences.

The discourse above proves that 2×8 joints are a better choice because of their attractive features, but they are also more expensive.

The average cost of 2×6 joists ranges between $3.50 to $5 per linear ft, but these prices may vary depending on the lengths and vendors.

For example, the price of a 12-foot board may range between $42 to $60, while an 18-foot board would range between $63 to $90. 

On the other hand, 2×8 joists could cost between $4 to $6 per linear ft or higher based on certain variables.

Therefore, the cost of a 12-inch board would fall between $48 to $72, while an 18-foot board would be priced between $72 to $108.

With this in mind, you should weigh your budget and get an estimate of how many joists your deck would require before making a decision.

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