Out of all the types of decking available to homeowners today, one of the more interesting options involves tongue and groove boards. While commonly used for porches, these planks can also be used to build a deck from traditional wood or composite boards. In this review, we will explain a little more about T & G decking and tell you what to expect when purchasing these kinds of boards for your next project.
Tongue and Groove Decking Explained
The process of joining two objects together through the tongue and groove method has been used in cabinetry and flooring for centuries. While there are a couple of different techniques to this approach, it basically refers to any boards with a groove along one edge and a ridge on the other.
This allows boards to lock together like puzzle pieces to make one flat surface. The design of tongue and groove boards makes them ideal for many applications, and it’s especially popular in the flooring industry. It can be used for decking but is typically reserved for covered porches and small outdoor patios.
Unfortunately, dozens of manufacturers label decking as tongue and groove when it’s actually geared towards hidden fastener systems. The most popular applications for tongue and groove boards are exterior siding and interior walls and porches.
Types of Tongue and Groove Decking
As popular as this style of lumber is, it can be difficult to locate when you’re looking for full-size deck boards. You are also limited from a material standpoint to a degree, so there are two options to choose from with natural wood and composite decking.
T & G deck boards made from natural wood are easy to track down locally or online. Finding the size you need, and an acceptable shipping rate is a different story, however. There are several species available as well, although Pine and Cedar are two of the more popular options.
There are also a handful of companies that specialize in producing composite boards with a tongue and groove profile. While these manufacturers are few and far between, the ability to use synthetic T & G decking may be well worth your time. If you’d like to learn more about either of these materials, check out our decking guide.
The Best Tongue and Groove Decking and Porch Boards
We found more boards geared towards porches and walls than decks in our quest to find the best tongue and groove decking. We are including all the suitable options locally and online below, but you will want to check with a contractor and your local building codes before using some of these materials for a large outdoor deck.
Wooden Tongue and Groove Deck Boards
If you are interested in using wooden tongue and groove decking for your next project, the most affordable option is to purchase your material locally. Unless it’s a product that has to be special ordered, this takes care of any shipping costs or built-in charges from online deck dealers.
The best place to purchase T & G porch decking online is through Advantage Lumber. Their selection is unparalleled; they have free samples and ship to any state in the continental United States for a reasonable rate. At this time, the company carries IPE, Cumaru, Tigerwood, Itauba, Garapa, Massaranduba, and Cypress.
All of these species sold through Advantage Lumber are available with a tongue & groove profile, but only in porch board sizes. The sizes range from 1” x 4” to 5/4”x 6” depending on the species, and includes their popular +Plus sizes as well. The company frequently has sales and offers free shipping on orders over $2,500.
Locally, for most homeowners, the easiest places to pick up T & G decking are through Lowes, Home Depot, or 84 Lumber. While 84 Lumber doesn’t allow you to shop online, they have a wide range of timber for decking projects. Menards is also another alternative and have some of the cheapest decking available… if you have one located in your area.
While Menards doesn’t ship online, they will ship to the store and have a series of tongue & groove decking from Meadow Valley. You can choose between Spruce and Cedar with two standards sizes at 2” x 6” or 2” x 8” boards. There are 8’ and 12’ lengths with Spruce, but only 12’ boards if you prefer Cedar. They have also have a treated Pine porch flooring in a 1’ x 4’ x 8 with a tongue and groove profile, which are available to ship across the U.S.
As for Home Depot and Lowes, the selection is limited online but will vary from one location to the next locally. In our experience, Lowes is the better option depending on the type of wood you’re looking for, and they do have one style of T & G Cedar decking with a 1” x 6” x 8” boards that can be purchased online or picked up locally.
Homeowners looking for pressure-treated decking have probably heard of YellaWood, and it’s a company we recommend as well. The company has a collection tongue and groove profiled boards called YellaWood KDAT porch flooring. It’s available in three different sizes, five lengths, and five different grades. While they don’t sell direct, you can find their products through building supply stores and home centers locally along with smaller hardware stores like ACE
Composite Tongue and Groove Boards
We are big fans of traditional wood decking, but composite decks provide homeowners with a surface that’s easy to maintain and extremely resilient to the weather. As one of the most popular types of decking, dozens of companies produce composite decking, but only a handful make planks with a tongue and groove profile.
The most well-known brand we found that produces T&G composite boards would be TimberTech. They have a small collection of porch flooring that features fully capped composite boards in monochromatic and multi-tonal colors. The monochromatic boards are cheaper and come in three different colors, but only available with a Cathedral grain finishing.
The company’s multi-tonal boards like Coastline and Weathered Teak are far more realistic and come in multiple widths. Two new finishing techniques come into play as well with a Straight-Grain or Wire-brushed textured finish. TimberTech’s porch collection is reasonably priced and has a top-tier warranty rated for 50-years on fading or stains and a lifetime limited structural guarantee.
Dekorators is a brand we’ve covered at length due to their solid collection of composite decking. Well, they make tongue and groove porch boards as well. The currently have one type of board that’s 3 1/8” x 7/8” and available in 10’, 12’ or 16’ lengths. These planks are capped as well, but the colors section is limited to only three hues. Deckorator's porch boards are suitable to come into contact with the ground or water and sport a 25-year guarantee across the board.
LumberRock may not be a brand familiar to the average homeowner, but they are one of the only companies that manufacturers tongue and groove “decking” instead of thinner porch boards. Their planks are made from a mix of HDPE and a natural mineral filler and come in two sizes with 5/4”x 6” or 2” x 6”. There are four different lengths and 12 colors between those sizes. While they aren’t the most realistic hues, their decking is slip-resistant and very durable.
The companies in our tongue and groove decking review are just a sample of what’s available, especially if you intend to think outside of the box with your design. The important thing to remember is that the term tongue and groove refers to a profile, and is something that’s typically reserved for porches rather than decking.