Metal Decking Installation: Everything You Need to Know

Steel Metal Decking

O’Donnell Metal Deck – How To Attach Metal Deck Resources

Steel metal decking products from O’Donnell Metal Deck are an excellent option for improving the strength-to-weight ratio of your roof or concrete floor installation. Their lightweight design and easy handling make them perfect for multi-story constructions, which can result in decreased material costs and faster building times.

In this article, we’ll explain how to manage these products upon delivery through their successful installation process.


What is Steel/Metal Decking?

Metal or steel decking is commonly used in construction to support concrete slabs or roofs. There are three main categories:

Composite Steel Floor Decking

This product image shows composite metal floor decking from O’Donnell Metal Deck.

O’Donnell Metal Deck – Composite Deck Products
Composite steel floor decking is used as a permanent form and positive bending reinforcement for structural concrete toppings. It has embossments pressed into its surface, which interlocks with the cured cast-in-place concrete to create a combination of metal decking and concrete that is stronger than just the concrete.

Regular Steel Floor Decking


This product image shows a steel-form deck.


O’Donnell Metal Deck – Steel Form Deck Supplier
Regular steel floor decking, on the other hand, acts only as permanent formwork for reinforced concrete slabs. Unlike composite decking, it does not have embossments and does not interlock with the concrete. This type of steel decking can be used in unique applications and is commonly seen on stairways, foundations and low-level mezzanine designs.

Steel Roof Decking


This diagram shows the parts of a metal roof decking.


O’Donnell Metal Deck – Metal Roof Deck Products

Steel roof decking is used in construction projects to support the weight of the roof and any applied loads. It is typically installed perpendicular to the roof joists or purlins and is available in 12-inch, 24-inch and 36-inch options to accommodate different roofing systems.


Overview of Metal/Steel Deck Installation

Built with premium-quality structural steel, metal deck is manufactured with a series of uniform ribs that produce durability and stability. The length of the decking can be tailored according to job specifications. However, for shipping and ease of handling purposes, it typically does not exceed 30 feet.

Decking pieces usually come in standard widths of either 24, 30 or 36 inches, and any custom cuts for doorways or angular placements are made during installation. To secure the deck, arc puddle welds, self-drilling screws or powder/pneumatically driven pins must be used. Between panels can then be held together with button punching (crimping), screwing them into place or welding.


When the Metal Decking Arrives on the Jobsite – Next Steps


The first step in the metal deck installation process is delivering the materials to the job site. O’Donnell Metal Deck will coordinate the delivery with the site manager or project manager to ensure the timely arrival of the materials. The materials should be delivered on flatbed trucks, which will have been loaded according to the installation sequence to ensure the required materials are readily available.


Make sure to carefully inspect all incoming material by counting and verifying the contents of bundles. Be sure to measure the panels in each bundle to ensure that the contents of each bundle is correct. Double-check the trailer’s bill of lading for accuracy.

Don’t forget to make sure that small packages have not been stowed away inside the truck. After confirming that everything is accounted for, any damages or discrepancies should be noted on the applicable documents before signing off, and alert the shipping office immediately so corrections can be made.

Metal Decking Installation 4

Storage and Protection

If you need to store the deck bundles on the ground, elevate one end of them off the ground and ensure that water will be able to drain out. Place a waterproof covering over them which can also provide ventilation. Take extra caution when stacking your bundles so as not to cause damage from tipping, sliding, rolling or shifting.

Safety Precautions During Storage

To ensure bundles remain secure, it is important to check them for proper tightness. The binding should be regularly inspected and reinforced whenever necessary. For safe hoisting, never use the strapping as a handle and make sure to keep the tag side facing upwards at all times.

The Steel Deck Institute insists that bundles of decking must be placed close to a primary supporting beam at an attached column or wall — never on unsecured frames or detached joists. To ensure these bundles are correctly supported and secure, the structural frame must also be safely braced.


Preparing to Install the Steel/Metal Decking

Review of Approved Field-Use Drawings

Before installing the first panel, a careful review of the field-approved drawings should be undertaken so that everyone associated with the actual installation process has a clear understanding of how to proceed.


Metal Decking Installation 1


Setting Decking Bundles on Structure Per Field-Use Drawings

On more complex projects, the steel deck panels will arrive in numbered bundles. The numbers on the bundle will correspond with the numbers on the drawings that show where to place each bundle on the structure’s frame. This helps make the installation process as efficient as possible.

Laying Out the Structure to Receive Panels

Before installing the metal deck panels, the structure should be laid out according to the project’s plans and specifications. This will involve measuring, marking and setting up any necessary supports, such as joists or beams. The structure should be level and square to ensure proper alignment and fit of the metal deck panels. Two areas of concern when preparing for installation are the edge of deck measurements and establishing chalk lines.


Metal Decking Installation 5


  • Noting the EOD (Edge of Deck) Measurement

    The total number of panels that have been ordered for your project is based on the total coverage area of the floor or roof. For example, if your roof requires 27 feet of coverage and the supplied panels are 36 inches wide, you will need nine panels, but the coverage area will include the measurement for EOD (Edge of Deck).

    The EOD measurement must be known before installing the panels. If the coverage starts three inches past the edge of the deck and ends three inches past the other side, you will need 10 panels. The EOD dimension will be listed on the drawings.

  • Establishing Chalk Lines for Reference Points

    If the project is longer than the length of one panel you should run a chalk line the full length of the run to ensure that the panels stay in line. That line should be based on the coverage width, not the width of the panel before pulling or stretching. In other words, if the coverage is 36 inches, then the chalk lines should run at 36-inch increments.


Metal Decking Installation 2


Pulling or Stretching the Panels to Meet Coverage Requirements

The panels will stretch slightly to allow you to meet the required coverage. There is some play in the side-lap connection to assist in this process.

Maintaining Rib and Flute Alignment

Another reason to establish a chalk line reference is to maintain rib and flute alignment. The ribs and flutes of the panel need to be aligned from one end to the other to achieve the specified strength required by the engineer. If the panels are not pulled to align with the coverage mark, the ribs and flutes will not be straight by the end of the project.


Fastening the Steel/Metal Decking to the Supporting Structure

Metal Decking Installation 6

Patterns for Screw and Weld Attachments



Metal decking should never be put in place without a predetermined pattern. The engineer of record bears the responsibility to declare which fastening type and pattern is best suited for a particular project. Ignoring this warning has its consequences — you could fail an inspection. The engineer also designs the attachment patterns, by taking into account elements such as uplift capacity, diaphragm shear capacity and the thickness supported by members beneath it.

Attachment patterns are listed as 36/9 — 36 refers to the width of the panel and 9 refers to how many fasteners will be needed.

Steel decking is attached by one of these methods:

  • Self-Tapping/Drilling Screws

    To securely mount a deck to its underlying frame, special electric screw guns with depth-limiting nosepieces and adjustable clutches are required. The perfect screws for this project are either #12 or ¼-inch in diameter while the drill points depend on the combined thickness of both components.

  • Air-Driven/Pneumatic Fasteners

    Air-driven tools are perfect for efficiently fastening the deck attachment because they operate at a predetermined pressure level. To ensure this, air is supplied by an equipped compressor with a regulator to prevent overdriving or underdriving the fastener. Furthermore, each fastener has both a flat head and ballistic point. They are available in multiple sizes based on their steel substrate requirements.

  • Powder-Actuated Tools

    Powder-actuated tools are specifically built to fasten metal decking by driving the designated fasteners through sheet metal and into steel. To power these tools, a powder cartridge (blank cartridge) is used as an energy source. Low-velocity tools use a captive piston that has more mass than the actual fastener, so when activated by pressure from the powder cartridges, it will drive the desired item into place with great force.

Important To Note: Only low-velocity tools designed for this type of application should be utilized to secure your project correctly and safely.


For quality welding of light gauge decks, a qualified welder is essential to ensure the selection of appropriate amperage and electrodes. This method involves firmly fastening the metal deck panel onto its steel support for maximum strength and resilience. The type and size of welds must be per the manufacturer’s specifications, as outlined within the SDI Manual of Construction with steel deck.

To guarantee proper load distribution and structural integrity across all surfaces, even spacing should be maintained when applying weld patterns along its supports. Welding should only be done under favorable weather conditions where possible.

Side Lap Connections

To guarantee a reliable decking installation, side laps must be attached with ‘stitch’ connections. These links can easily be established through the use of self-drilling screws, welding techniques or button punches.

To secure side laps with a manual button punch, an operator must have access to the right crimping tool. This necessitates adjusting their weight in such a way that the upper deck remains even across the joint. The quality is contingent on how well and reliably it has been used, so establishing a consistent approach is critical for success.

Side lap welds demand precise metal-to-metal contact for maximum strength. Most decks feature small burn holes, and it’s normal to see them during the inspection. The welding capabilities of a good side lap weld are determined by the perimeter — 75% or more should be functional.


Quality Control and Inspection

Throughout the installation process, it is important to maintain quality control and regularly inspect the work to ensure proper installation techniques are being followed. This includes verifying that the metal deck panels are properly aligned and secured, as well as ensuring that any cut or modified panels are properly installed and secured. The inspector should also check for any signs of damage or defects in the metal deck panels, such as dents, scratches or warping.


O’Donnell Metal Deck Has Built Its Reputation on Solid Customer Service

At O’Donnell Metal Deck, our customers are looking for dependable service and competitive prices. They want reliable service, short lead times on all products, and when needed, professional customer support from knowledgeable staff. We aren’t just a next-day delivery company — we have the expertise to handle intricate jobs as well. Our team can provide approved shop drawings for your deck project that are based on the contract bid documents and can be given a final review before being submitted for fabrication.

We understand that every metal deck project and supply need is unique. We prioritize a sourcing approach that emphasizes working closely with our customers in the steel industry to cultivate trust and establish lasting partnerships. With offices throughout the U.S., steel fabricators, contractors and developers can rely on us as their preferred source of bar joists and decks. We are committed to being accessible to our customers.

Are you ready to purchase? Get a quote? Contact us online today, or ask the experts at 844-838-2969.