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Can I Use 2×6 for Deck Joists? (Quick Answers)

Choosing a joist for the deck depends on many factors. There are several sizes available for joists. The size depends on the places you want to put the joists. The size of the deck joists also depends on the places where you want to put the deck. 

Well, the spanning of the joists may also be considered.

Following the below tips and information regarding deck joists and if you can use 2×6 for deck joists or not may help you to proceed.

Can I use 2×6 for deck joists?

One can use 2×6 for deck joists depending on where they want to put the deck. If the deck is going to be put near the ground, 2×6 joists may work perfectly. In other cases, it might not give much strength. Even the spanning of the deck joist must be considered, which would be 16 inches.

Deck joists are different from beams. One can not compare the deck joists to the beam. Deck joists can be of different sizes. The strength of the deck also varies with the joist size. 

2×6 may be perfect for the decks which are meant to be put near the ground. In other spaces, the deck joist can not provide strength.

As the deck joist can not hold up to certain loads, it is not preferable for all places. The load capacity of the deck joist must be accounted for. If the deck is not able to hold stuff or weight, you should change the joist size.

Floating deck:

Floating deck can use 2×6 deck joists. 2×6 deck joists are not suitable for all the places. Even a 2×6 deck joist is not enough to hold too much load. The capacity of carrying may vary from the joist size. 

A floating deck doesn’t require holding a great amount of weight.

The floating deck is located just near the ground. It is not even in height and doesn’t require any railing to hold. As long as the floating deck doesn’t need to hold the stairs or railing, it can provide good strength. 2×6 deck joists are not strong to hold a large weight.

The floating deck only needs some chairs and not too much weight to hold. That makes a 2×6 deck joist good for a floating deck. Apart from that other desk joists can be used too as they can hold larger weight and don’t span much.

Ground-level deck:

Ground-level deck can be built with a 2×6 deck joist as long as it is not required to carry heavyweight. Ground-level deck resides quite near the floor, actually, almost to the ground. 

For a ground-level deck, a 2×6 deck joist can provide great strength.

Even though the 2×6 deck joist is not strong enough to hold stuff yet, it can hold small stuff. In the ground-level deck, no one is going to put high weights or furniture. 

If you are thinking of putting heavyweights, do not use a 2×6 deck joist for a ground-level deck. The deck joist won’t be able to hold that weight.

But if you want to use a ground-level deck for only holding 3-4 chairs or a table or only to walk on it, a 2×6 deck joist might be able to fulfil your expectation. In other cases, it might not be a good choice.

Are 2×6 strong enough for deck joists?

2×6 is strong enough for deck joists only if it doesn’t need to hold huge weight. For floor deck joists, 2×6 is absolutely not strong.

2×6 is not that strong as it has a larger span. Yet, there are other factors too. Instead, using 2×8 or 2×10 may be preferable. Moreover, 2×6 is only suitable for ground-level decks or decks which don’t need to hold weight. It is not capable of holding a large weight.

Other than that, if you want to use railing on it, choosing 2×6 is not a wise decision. 2×6 is only strong in some cases and not suitable for every place.

How strong are 2×6?

2×6 is not strong compared to other joist sizes. Even it is not reliable. Not even to hold the load. 2×6 joist is only reliable when the deck is only located just above the ground. If it is at a height, you can not be sure of its strength. 

Still, it can support up to a maximum of 50 pounds per square foot.

The strength of the joist sizes also depends on the spanning of its. The maximum span from the centre should be 16 inches to ensure stability. There are plenty of sizes available which are better for the deck. 

2×6 is not a strong one, whereas else you can choose a better size that might provide better stability.

Advantages and disadvantages of using 2×6 for deck joist:

Some advantages and disadvantages of using 2×6 for deck joist have given below –


Ground level decks:

2×6 deck joist is a good choice for ground-level decks. The ground-level deck doesn’t need to be located at a high height. And doesn’t even need to support railing.

Spanning can be increased:

Spanning can be increased up to 24 inches. It might be needed for certain circumstances.

Less effort:

Depending on the quality of the wood, 2x6size for deck joist might be preferable for decks that do not need to hold huge weight. As a result, less effort is needed to form a deck.


Not suitable:

2×6 deck joist is not suitable for all places. It is different from the beam deck. It can not take the place of a beam deck.

Cannot hold a heavyweight:

It cannot hold a heavyweight. There is a chance that the deck can even break if a heavyweight is put on it.

Not strong:

2×6 deck joist is not as strong as other deck joist sizes. The size can not provide much strength to the deck.

Unable to cooperate:

The spanning of the deck joist may make the deck a bit unable to cooperate. Well, the size creates a bit greater span than other sizes.

How far can a 2×6 span for a deck?

A 2×6 deck joist can span for 24 inches to the maximum. The spanning can also change depending on the centre spacing. If the centre spacing of the joist is changed, the spanning of the deck joist also changes. And the maximum spanning is 24inch.

Even though the joist centre spacing is changed, the change won’t be so much to hold heavy weights. The quality of the wood also has an impact on the spanning of the deck joist. In any view, the maximum spanning would be 24 inches and not more. 

Too much spanning is not good as it doesn’t give much strength to the deck.

Should I use 2×6 or 2×8 for the floating deck?

You should definitely use a 2×8 joist size for the floating deck. 2×6 is not that stable to use for floating decks. You can easily use 2×6, yet 2×8 would be a better choice. 2×8 is more reliable in comparison with 2×6 and even stronger.

2×8 can provide better stability and hold loads too. You do not necessarily need to put a heavyweight on the floating deck. As you may know, 2×6 can provide support as long as the deck does not need to carry living weight or heavyweight. 

That’s why you can use 2×6, yet 2×8 is the best choice.

Can you use 2×6 for deck beams?

Absolutely not; you should not use 2×6 for deck beams; instead, use other sizes. Well, many may support using 2×6, yet for better reliability, other sizes may give better protection. Deck beams are supposed to carry good weight. If not, then you can use 2×6.

2×6 is not capable of carrying a heavyweight and is neither reliable. In that case, using other sizes might be preferable so that you can carry loads on it. 2×6 is not reliable unless the deck doesn’t hold weights. 

If the deck beam is going to be attached to the railing or going to hold stairs, do not use a 2×6 deck joist.

Though you can use a 2×6 joist for deck beams, it is still not suggested. More sizes of the joists are available, which might provide the durability of the deck in further future.

Final thoughts:

Overall, one can use 2×6 for deck joists by considering some necessary factors. 2×6 is not a reliable joist size. You can use it if you want to put the deck near the ground, or you do not need to put a heavy weight on it. If you want to put heavy weight on it, certainly 2×6 can not be an option.