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How to Use Packers and Shims for a Level Deck

 Building a deck is a popular project among homeowners looking to enhance their outdoor living space. A well-constructed deck not only provides a great area for relaxation and entertainment but also increases the property value. One critical aspect of deck building is ensuring the structure is perfectly level and stable, which can be achieved using precision tools like packers and shims. This comprehensive guide, powered by the expertise of PackersDirect, will walk you through the detailed process of using packers and shims to construct a level and durable deck.

Understanding the Importance of Leveling in Deck Construction

Leveling is crucial in deck construction for multiple reasons:

  • Structural Integrity: A level deck distributes weight evenly, reducing stress on the structure and preventing premature wear and failure.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: A level deck looks professional and finished, enhancing the overall appearance of your home.
  • Safety: Uneven decks can lead to tripping hazards and insecure railings.

What Are Packers and Shims?

Packers and Shims Defined

Packers and shims are small, often wedge-shaped pieces used to adjust the height or compensate for variations in material thickness, ensuring a precise fit and level surface. While they are simple in design, their impact on construction projects is significant.

Advantages of Plastic Packers and Shims

PackersDirect offers a range of plastic packers and shims, preferred over traditional wooden versions for several reasons:

  • Durability: They do not rot, swell, or degrade over time, which is crucial for outdoor environments.
  • Water Resistance: Plastic does not absorb moisture, preventing the issues associated with water damage.
  • Uniformity: Each piece is consistently manufactured to exact specifications under ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems, ensuring reliable performance.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using Packers and Shims for Decking

Step 1: Planning and Preparation

Efficient planning is the first step towards a successful deck building project. This involves designing your deck, calculating material needs, and preparing the tools and components.

  • Design Considerations: Decide on the size, shape, and location of your deck. Consider local building codes and regulations.
  • Material Calculation: List materials such as beams, joists, decking boards, packers, shims, screws, and tools.

Step 2: Setting Up the Foundation

A sturdy foundation is essential for deck stability and longevity.

  • Laying Out Joists: Arrange the joists according to your deck plan. Use a laser level or string line to ensure all joists are perfectly aligned.
  • Using Packers and Shims: Insert PackersDirect plastic packers and shims under joists or in between connections to correct any discrepancies in level. This step is crucial for ensuring a flat surface for the decking boards.

Step 3: Attaching the Deck Boards

With a level frame in place, you can begin to attach the decking boards.

  • Board Placement: Start from one end, aligning the first board with the outer edge of the deck. Check for level before securing.
  • Securing Boards: Use quality deck screws to fasten the boards to the joists. Ensure that each board is straight and uniform.

Step 4: Making Adjustments

As you progress, adjustments may be necessary to maintain a level deck surface.

  • Continuous Leveling: Regularly check for level as you add new boards. Adjust with shims where needed.
  • Trimming Packers and Shims: Once all boards are laid, go back and trim any packers or shims that extend beyond the deck’s structure.

Additional Tips for Deck Building

  • Pre-drilling: Always pre-drill holes to prevent wood splitting, particularly near the ends of the boards.
  • Spacing for Expansion: Leave slight gaps between boards to allow for wood expansion due to moisture and temperature changes.
  • Regular Maintenance: Regularly inspect and maintain your deck to extend its life. Look for any signs of wear or damage, particularly in the leveling elements.

Using packers and shims from PackersDirect is a reliable and effective method to ensure your deck is perfectly level and structurally sound. By following this detailed guide, homeowners and builders alike can achieve professional-quality results. Whether you’re a seasoned builder or a first-time DIYer, PackersDirect provides the materials and expertise you need to succeed. Visit our website at for more information and access to a wide range of construction solutions that make building better and easier.


What are the best practices for placing packers and shims during deck construction?

When placing packers and shims, it’s crucial to distribute them evenly and strategically to avoid creating pressure points that could warp or damage the deck over time. Place them under joists or beams where small gaps or irregularities in level are detected. Ensure that the packers or shims fit snugly and do not protrude from the sides of the joists or beams.

Can I reuse plastic packers and shims if I need to disassemble or adjust my deck?

Yes, one of the benefits of using plastic packers and shims from PackersDirect is their durability and reusability. As long as they are not damaged, you can reuse them for adjustments or future projects. This is cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

How do I choose the right size and type of packer or shim for my decking project?

The choice of packer or shim depends on the gap or irregularity you need to correct. PackersDirect offers a variety of sizes and shapes to accommodate different needs. For larger gaps, thicker packers may be required, while thinner shims are ideal for minor adjustments. Always assess the load requirements and environmental conditions to select the most appropriate type.

Are there any specific environmental considerations when using plastic packers and shims outdoors?

Plastic packers and shims are highly resistant to moisture, decay, and fungal growth, making them ideal for outdoor use in environments exposed to weather elements. However, it’s important to consider UV resistance if the packers or shims will be exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods. PackersDirect products are engineered to withstand such conditions, ensuring longevity and performance.

What should I do if I notice movement or shifting in the deck after construction?

If movement or shifting occurs, it’s important to first identify the cause. It could be due to ground settling, inadequate foundation, or insufficient support from packers and shims. Once identified, additional packers and shims may be necessary to re-level and stabilize the deck. Regular inspections and maintenance can prevent major adjustments later on.

How can I ensure that the deck remains level and stable over time?

To ensure long-term stability and levelness of your deck, perform regular checks and maintenance. Look for signs of wear or damage in the deck structure, especially after extreme weather conditions. Adjust or replace packers and shims as needed, and ensure all fasteners and connections remain tight and secure.

Can plastic packers and shims handle heavy loads like large decks or outdoor structures?

Yes, plastic packers and shims from PackersDirect are designed to handle heavy loads and provide robust support for large decks and outdoor structures. They are manufactured to meet specific load-bearing requirements and are tested under stringent conditions to ensure reliability and safety.

What is the environmental impact of using plastic shims and packers?

PackersDirect is committed to environmental stewardship. Our plastic packers and shims are made from recyclable materials, promoting sustainability in construction practices. By using durable and long-lasting materials, we help reduce the frequency of replacements and minimize waste.

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