Attaching a Ledger Board to Your House
The ledger board attachment for this home was challenging because it was done after the house was constructed. So you will learn how the siding was removed and two layers of metal waterproof flashing were installed around the board. Complicating matters was the engineered I-joists that had to be reinforced.
For one, it makes for a smooth natural transition to have the deck at
the same height or preferably a few inches lower than the kitchen
But it’s also less labor intensive and uses fewer materials than
digging holes and setting another set of posts and beams to create a
stand alone deck.
There are various ways
to attach the ledger but our example is quite common for vinyl
clapboard style siding and is waterproof for peace of mind!
Determine the outside dimensions of the framing for the deck and add
½” to 1” to that length. This will give you a ¼” to ½” of extra room to
maneuver the ledger if needed.
Determine the location of the floor joists so that you will know
exactly where to cut and remove the siding. You can figure this out by
looking under the last row of siding.
You should be able to see the concrete foundation and 2x6 sill plate.
If you allow 1.5” for the sill plate you can then add the width of the
floor joist to figure out where the top of the floor deck begins.
A 2x10 joist is usually about 9 ¼”. If you are not sure, go into your basement and measure the joist.
Once you are sure about the joist location mark out the outer shape
of the cutaway area using a soft pencil or marker and a straight edge.
Use a sharp razor knife and a straight edge as a guide to score (cut)
the vinyl and after several passes gradually cut through. You want to
avoid cutting up the house wrap beneath if possible.
This method requires flashing to slip underneath the siding and then overlap the ledger. So when you cut away the siding you must be sure there is enough room for the flashing to slip up and under the siding . You need at least 4" of the flashing under the last row of siding and ideally 8".
In other words, do not haphazardly cut the siding away only to find that there is just 1-2" of room remaining because the connection to the next higher piece of siding. If you plan ahead you can avoid ever making this error and simply lower the board another inch or two.
Set the Height of the Ledger Board
Mark on the exposed house wrap the top edge of the ledger. Add on the
thickness of the deck board material and mark the top of the finished
deck surface as well.
Are you happy with the transition from the house to the deck? A good
transition is about 3 to 4” lower than the floor inside the house.
This should still allow for plenty of room to attach the board to the rim joist of the floor.
But keep this in mind as you play with various elevations and don’t
forget that you need to position the ledger board and cut the siding at a
point that will allow the top flashing to fit under the siding at least
3 to 4”.
Once you have set the height of the finished floor and worked
backwards to determine where the bottom edge of the ledger board will
be, mark that location on the foundation wall.
Block Joists from Inside the House
This is a very important step to properly attaching a ledger board, especially in homes built with engineered trusses.
The problem with engineered trusses used as rim joists is that they
do not provide a solid surface to bolt the ledger into like dimensional
lumber. So you must install extra blocking yourself between each joist.
Go down into the basement and get the exact measurement between
joists, cut some 2x8 and fit it into place between the joists so that
they rest on top of the sill plate.
Screw the 2x8s into the top and bottom edges of the rim joist. This
is crucial because all the force of the deck will transfer to these
Install First Flashing Piece
Position the first piece of flashing by tacking it in place. But also
transfer the markings on the house wrap for the bottom of the ledger
board, rim joist height and top of deck boards to the flashing. Use
A story board is a strip of wood placed against a wall with
predefined measurements and commonly used when installing siding to keep
the boards parallel.
In this case you are not really creating a story board as much as you
are “telling the story” – the story of where the sill plate, joist and
floor deck are located.
Bolt Ledger in Place
Remember the story lines that you marked on the first piece of
flashing? Now they come in handy because you should have marked the top
of the finished deck and top of the ledger lines.
You will have to transfer these markings to the ledger once it is tacked into its intended position.
With the help of a friend, position the ledger against the flashing
so the top edge is in line with its corresponding marking on the
flashing. Tack the ledger board in place for now using a 2 ½” spiral
nail. Do not pound the nail in entirely. Check for level across the
length of the ledger board.
Mark the positions where the joists will go along the ledger board.
Ideally they should be in line with the floor joists for simplicity.
Using a ½” spade bit bore at least two holes through the ledger
board, one above each other, between each joist. The number of bolts
required depends upon the expected load on the deck. Bore through the
ledger and right through the rim joist and into the blocking.
To be safe do not be afraid to put four bolts between each set of
joists. Two bolts top and bottom on the left and right side of each
Now pry the ledger board away from the flashing and check to see if
you bored through the blocking by looking from inside the basement.
If not, drill again and complete the bore. Cut a notch for any obtacles like a gas line.
Place ½” bolts into each hole in the ledger board. Use washers under
the head of each nut and ideally (but not essential) two washers on the
back side of the bolt to create small air space between the ledger and
the first flashing.
Water should never get back here but if it ever does, it has a means of egress keeping the ledger from ever rotting.
With the help of a friend re-position the ledger bo. Line up the
bolts into the holes and push them through the blocking. Screw the nuts
with washers from the basement side and tighten up the connections.
Install Second Flashing
The second piece of flashing will have to be custom cut to fit up
underneath the siding. Remember that you should try to get at least 4”
up under the siding because this is your first line of defense from the
rain and blowing snow.
You may not be able to pry back the siding far enough to nail it
against the house. If that is the case, use construction adhesive and
run a thick bead as far up and under the siding as possible.
Now slide the flashing under the siding and on top of the adhesive.
Now push the flashing tight against the adhesive to ensure a secure and
water tight fit.
Make sure the flashing is a bit longer than the ledger so that you
can bend the exposed flashing over the ends to direct rain water away.
The bottom edge of the flashing should be at least 3” so that is fully
covers the ledger board and goes past about 1”.
As you can see, the best time to install a ledger for a deck is
during the construction and framing of the house before the siding crew
arrives. But that is not always possible.