Need Details on Deck Load Capacity

by DJ

I have read several articles regarding how to design a deck to support a particular load. For example, a deck to support 50 psf, 10 dead and 40 live.

But I don't know how to convert this idea of live load to actual people or things.

For example, if I have a deck that should support 40 psf of live load, how many people can safely stand on the deck? How many 50 lb planters?

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Jun 07, 2008
Deck Load Capacity Resources
by: Editor - Rich Bergman

This is one of the best questions - what is deck load capacity and how to figure it out.

This is a complex engineering question which has many variables so it is almost impossible to answer your question without a lot of other questions first.

But I have done a fair amount of research on loads for floors, decks and balconies and I can refer you to some great research tables, articles and online tools.

The American Wood Council has some great tutorials you must read. Start here:

Span Tables.

Now, back your first question. I would recommend you build for 60 psf which is for a balcony. It should be more than enough load capacity for the extras you are thinking about.

But unfortunately I can't offer you a weigh to actually figure out how much to add to your deck structure calculations if you add a planter etc.

This comes down to actually adding up all the potential weight, dividing it over the total area and then comparing it against the structure of the deck with consideration for the characteristics of all the materials. Engineers are the experts here.

But these links should really help you.

I would also get the tables from the Canadian Wood Council.

So there you go - a great series of fairly authoritative sources on the finer engineering aspects of load capacity for wood structures and decks.

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