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What Is Dovetail Deck? [Definition And Uses]
Paul Rubio

By: Paul Rubio on August 21st, 2020

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What Is Dovetail Deck? [Definition And Uses]

Metal Deck | Dovetail Deck

Do you have a set of plans with a Dovetail metal deck specified and you have no earthly idea what that is? Well, that’s ok, because this is a new product. It’s been developed so that you can have a metal roof deck or floor deck that’s capable of long spans, shallower floor depths, and superior sound ratings.

Most importantly, the dovetail ribs are designed so that you have the appearance of a finished ceiling, but the performance of a structural metal deck.

At Western Metal Deck we’ve been educating our customer’s about metal decking for thirty plus years. When a new product like Dovetail deck starts showing up on plans we’re here to answer all of your questions. It’s our goal to not only educate you on the things that can be found in the catalog, but also provide you with inside knowledge that only someone that sells these products on a daily basis has.

By the end of this article you will know:

  • What Is Dovetail Decking?
  • Cost And Lead Times
  • Uses Of Dovetail Deck

If you would like to learn more about Dovetail Decking we suggest:

What Are The Different Types Of Dovetail Roof And Floor Decking?


What Is Dovetail Deck?

Dovetail deck is a long span metal decking system that’s available in both roof and floor decking. The dovetail ribs are designed so that they provide a finished looking ceiling that allows you to attach lighting, HVAC, plumbing, or electrical to the underside of the panels.


How Much Does Dovetail Deck Cost?

Dovetail deck will cost 2 to 3 times more than the price of a typical metal deck. If your job is under 5,000 square feet then it could actually end up costing you quite a bit more.

Dovetail Deck is only manufactured on the East Coast. If you have a job that’s on the West Coast the freight alone could cost more than $5,000. We suggest that you always contact a metal decking supplier to get an accurate cost versus guesstimating the materials cost.


What Are Lead Times For Dovetail Decking?

Dovetail steel decking has a significantly longer lead time than regular steel decking. It will vary based upon the gauge and type of deck, but you can expect a 6 to 16 week lead time.

Unlike typical metal decking, it cannot be found in stock. Dovetail metal decking is made on an order by order basis. If you damage some of your materials or miscalculate and end up with fewer materials than you need, you will be in a tough position.

You could easily delay your job by two to four months and the price on a small job will be astronomical as just the freight alone could cost you $5,000. We recommend that you double-check all dimensions and order extra sheets at the longest required sheet lengths.


Best Uses For Dovetail Roof Deck

In the past, if your job required a structural metal roof deck your only choice was to use a system such as B deck. This type of system does not look finished when you look at it from the underside. B-deck has dents, weld burns, and large open spaces between the corrugations. Dovetail deck however will offer you some different solutions.

Dovetail roof deck is best used in the following applications:

  • When You Have A Long Span (Between 10 and 25 Feet)
    Dovetail deck is capable of spans that are much longer than B deck or N deck. 2” dovetail deck can span up to 14’ and 3.5” dovetail deck can span up to 25’
  • You Need A Structural Roof Deck With The Look Of A Finished Ceiling
    Dovetail decking is a perfect marriage between a structural roof deck and an architectural finished ceiling. It’s the ideal product to tie your building together and carry the load requirements of your building, while still providing a clean, modern, and finished looking ceiling.
  • You Need To Hang Mechanical Systems, Lighting, Plumbing, Or Electrical
    Dovetail deck is designed so that you can conceal the fastening systems and create a grid hanging system for all of your lighting, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, etc. There is only one type of fastener that’s designed to hang heavy loads or mechanical systems from dovetail decking.

    Sammy X-Press Swivel Head fasteners are installed in any flat portion of the bottom flange of the decking as shown below. The connection functions similar to a drywall anchor and it has engineering that will allow you to design your mechanical load requirements.

    At the time of this writing wedge nuts as discussed in the floor deck section are not intended for a roof decking application.dovetail-deck-1

Best Uses For Dovetail Floor Deck

Dovetail floor deck is designed so that you can span long distances with shallower floor depths. This enables you to get more floors within a multi-story building.

Dovetail floor deck is best used in the following applications:

  • When You Have A Long Span Condition
    Dovetail deck is capable of spans that are much longer than traditional composite floor decking. 2” dovetail deck can span up to 20’ and 3.5” dovetail deck can span up to 25’
  • Design Versatility

    This type of metal decking system allows you a design flexibility that you don’t have with a typical metal composite floor deck. The topside of the concrete can be left exposed for a modern industrial look or you can install all of your standard flooring options such as: wood, tile, carpet, or anything else that can be installed over a concrete slab.

    The critical difference is when used on a multi-story building the underside of the metal decking will function as a finished looking interior ceiling. This will save you time and money because you don’t need to build a new ceiling to cover the unfinished look that you’d have with a traditional steel floor deck.

  • You Need Noise Reduction
    Dovetail deck is available in an acoustical system which will reduce the amount of noise within the building. It’s popular in schools, gymnasiums, libraries, theatres, and multi-story buildings.
  • You Need To Hang Mechanical Systems, Lighting, Plumbing, Or Electrical

Wedge nuts are installed in the void of the floor decking decking as shown below and are used to support whatever is hanging from them. You can also use the Sammy X-Press Swivel Head fasteners. It’s always best to let an engineer design the loads and determine which of these two systems is best.


Do You Need Dovetail Metal Decking?

Do you have a project that has specified dovetail decking? Learn more about the material specifications on our dovetail product page. Western Metal Deck can help you purchase metal decking for your project. We’ve been installing and selling metal decking for thirty plus years and we’re here to help with any of your metal decking needs.

To continue learning about cellular and everything metal deck related, check out our Learning CenterIf you would like to learn more about dovetail roofing, we suggest reading this article:  What Are The Different Types Of Dovetail Roof And Floor Decking?


If you have a metal decking job that you need to bid on:

Request A Quote


About Paul Rubio

Paul Rubio is the Vice President and one of the owners of Western States Metal Roofing. He has been in the metal roofing industry for 25 years. WSMR is a manufacturer of metal roofing, wall panels, and metal siding. We have colors and finishes that nobody else has with nearly 100 different colors in stock. Our selection of color options and finishes is likely the largest in the industry.