Deck Construction Explained
One might ask "Why is it so important to follow the rules when building a deck and why are they so strict?" I mean it is just a deck right? It is more of a luxury than a necessity.
While this is true there is also a few factors that make a deck more dangerous that other parts of the house. For one more people are usually gathering closely in one area than any other part of the house, there may be several people gathering around a grill with a table nearby with people sitting around and children running around and bouncing and jumping causing a huge amount of stress on the deck and if it a second floor deck then it is even more dangerous. The longer the posts the more wobbly and wobbles can cause screws and fasteners to work loose.
Then there is the fact that decks are exposed to the elements. Elements that cause corrosion, rust and rot. If not built properly with the right hardware and materials like pressure treated wood, stainless steel or galvanized fasteners, raised post to footer brackets, treating the cut ends of the wood, water diversion, etc. you could have a wobbly soft floored practically useless deck. Add a crowd of people and children bouncing around, dancing to the music with loose fasteners on a 10 foot high raised deck and you have a recipe for disaster
That's not all, one of the most important thing is that most decks are attached directly to the house, if not done properly the elements outside can ruin the structural integrity of the house AND the deck, causing double trouble. Now you have a second floor deck with wobbly posts, loosened rusted and corroded fasteners attaching rotted and soft wood to the wall of a house that has had the rim joist and sill plate of the exterior wall rotted out and people partying, dancing around, leaning over the rail and then the next thing you know the deck pulls away from the house breaking the rim joist of the house and deck with all the people come crashing down with the exterior wall of the house coming down on top of them! (see photos below, I took them myself)
So you see, it is very important to build and attach a deck to a house correctly. My decks surpass city codes and I cut no corners (Unless it is octagon shape, ha ha). Below are some examples of decks not done right and decks done right.
A short video of what happens when the deck is not properly flashed. In case you cannot watch the video I added a picture below it.
The diagram shows the anotomy of a wall where the deck is attached to show just how important that part of your house is, and below is how a deck is properly flashed, protecting the rim joist of the house from ever getting wet from the deck.
Key features of my decks are:
-Deck Posts are 6x6 not 4x4.
- All wood is pressure treated and cut ends are re-treated.
- All fasteners and brackets are galvenized, stainless steel or otherwise made specifically for decks. No untreated wood and no "plain" uncoated screws nails or fasteners.
-Instead of deck posts embedded in concrete, that trap moisture, they are secured to brackets anchored to solid concrete, keeping the deck posts 1 inch off the concrete allowing to air dry quickly after a rain avoiding rot.
- The concrete footers are below the frost-line which avoids "heaving" up in freezing weather. (In N Texas is 1 1/2 ft below ground level)
- The ledger board attaches the deck to the house, it is double flashed and sealed in a way that water can never reach the rim joist of the house causing it to rot. Avoiding major damage to the house, deck ledger board and compromising the safety of the deck and exterior wall of house.
- All deck floor joists are secured to a beam spanning the width of the deck. The beam is built specifically for the size of deck, joist lengths, joist spans and span of deck posts.
- The deck hand rails are attached to 4x4 hand rail posts that can withstand 500 ft lbs at the top of the posts. Assuring the safety of the deck hand rail and people holding on it.
- The deck spindles and balusters are spaced so a 4 inch ball cannot pass between them, avoiding a child's head from getting stuck.