THE ESSENTIALs OF buildING a deck

dig deep & learn EVERY ASPECT OF HOW TO BUILD A DECK 

Design

Creating Great Deck Design Ideas Starts With Knowledge

MATERIAls

Navigating The Sea of Decking Materials

BUILDING CODE 

Get The Basics Based on IRC Code Requirements

Footings & foundations

Start Off Right On The Right Foot

FRAMING

What The Pros Do - And You Should Too

DeckING

The Steps To Installing Decking

STAIRS

Building Stairs Is Easier Than You Think

RAILINGS

The Essentials Behind A Great Railing

FEATURES

Maximize Your Outdoor Living Experience

MAINTENANCE

Tips To Make Your Investment Last For Decades

CASE STUDies

Stories Of Real Projects, Real Builders And How They Do It

the elements of a well built deck

Here's a quick refresher with names and definitions of the critical components of a deck. Use this cheat sheet so you can 'talk the talk'.

fOUNDATION

1

PIER

  • Pier: The supporting structure, usually made of concrete and set on or below grade.
  • Post Anchors: These are metal brackets that connect support columns to the pier.  They can be set into poured cement or mechanically secured to cured contract by fasteners.

 

2

FOOTING

  • Footing: The supporting member that sits below a pier  in order to disperse compression loads. It has a larger surface area than the pier and thereby reduces the load per square foot imposed on the soil.  The larger the footing, the less piers are required all else being equal.

FRAMING 

3

LEDGER

  • Ledger: An external joist that is secured to the rim joist of the floor of a house.  Infield joists of the deck are secured to the ledger with hangers to form the sub structure of the deck.

4

SUPPORT COLUMN

  • Column: The vertical member, usually a 6x6 dimensional lumber that supports the carrier beam.  The column is then connected to the post anchor bracket secured to the pier. 
  • Cantilever: The terminal end of a beam that extends beyond the last support column.

5

BEAM

  • Beams:  The horizontal load carrying members below the joists which rest on support columns. They can be made of laminated dimension lumber such as 2x8 or metal.
  • Blocking:  Smaller pieces of dimensional lumber secured between joists, usually near the outer edges of the deck to provide support for mounting of posts or stair stringers.

6

JOISts

  • Joists: Dimensional lumber that forms the shape and structure of the deck frame.  Infield joists comprise the inner members of a frame and rest on beams.

7

POSts & BASes

  • Posts: Also called support columns.  They are usually 4x4 or 6x6 dimensional lumber and sit below beams to carry load to the pier.  Posts are usually elevated above concrete by a mechanical brackets to keep them dry during their lifetime.

8

rim joist

  • Rim Joists:  These are dimensional lumber members that form the perimeter (side and ends) of the framing structure. They are also referred to as perimeter joists or band boards.

DECK SURFACE

9

decking

  • Deck Flooring: These are the members that comprise the floor of any deck.  Dimensional lumber, or synthetic composite materials are most common.  But other materials can be used.  Plywood with waterproof membranes is common. Paver stones are also becoming popular because of their durability, low maintenance and new framing systems to support them.

stairs

10

treadS

  • Tread:​​​​​​​ This is the step portion of a stair case.  Usually they are made of a single dimensional 2x10 or a plurality of other boards like 2x6s.  The smallest step depth permissible is a 2x10.  Anything less becomes a hazard. The portion of the stringer and riser board under the tread makes up the 'run'.

11

riserS

  • Riser:​​​​​​​ This is the board that fills the gap between each discreet vertical portion of a staircase.  Risers give a staircase a solid appearance and add strength but are not always required.

12

stringerS

  • Stringer: This is the member of the stairs that forms the angular direction of the staircase and comprises the individual rise and run functionality.  Treads and risers then attach to the individual run and rise segments. Stringers must be made of at least a 2x10 dimensional lumber.  Metal stringers may be smaller. 

railings

13 

cap rail

  • Cap:  This is usually a horizontally oriented 2x4 or 2x6 (sometimes called a 'drink rail') that covers a secondary horizontal member of the railing. Cap rail's are not required but they can add functionality, style and strength.

14

balustrade

  • Balustrade: This is the infill section of a railing and can be comprised of various materials or members such as glass, cables, balusters (pickets).  There are maximum gap requirements to provide safety.  Usually 4" is the maximum space allowed between balusters as an example.

CASE STUDies

Want to learn more? see how these decks were built by builders and DIY'ers.

PAVER DECK ON A WOOD FRAME

A stone paver deck can be installed over a wood frame. If you are like most people you probably thought deck pavers could only be installed at ground level over 12"-18" of granular stone.

BEGINNER DECK BUILDING PROJECT

Any beginner deck building project can seem a bit challenging. So if you are a beginner builder, this is a great little deck to study and learn some basic construction techniques.

PERGOLA FOOTINGS WITHOUT DIGGING

Fortunately there are some excellent ways of installing footings for a pergola that are strong, stable and durable without the need to dig, mix and pour cement. 

EBOOKS

grab a copy of our ebooks written by builder and inventor that explains everything you need to now about are most popular products

ULTIMATE DeCK FOOT ANCHOR GUIDE EBOOK

A secure, fast and affordable footing system that eliminates digging, cement and lots of labor.  Designed with free standing decks in mind. Learn all about it.

ULTIMATE post ANCHOR GUIDE EBOOK

A lightweight surface mounting post anchor that attaches to wood or other hard surfaces and can be used in residential code compliant applications when installed as directed. 

ULTIMATE Snap'n lock balusters GUIDE EBOOK

Finally a baluster system that is faster and easier to install than any plug system on the market and elegant to boot! You have to see this to believe it. 

popular topics in the forums

learn more about building decks from builders and people like you. It's like hanging around the office watercooler!

Sanding, staining and every other aspect of keeping your deck in tip top shape.

Deck Maintenance and Repair Forums

Everyone wants the investment they put into their deck to last.


The Deck Foot Anchor is a great solution for most types of decks.

DECK FOOT ANCHOR FORUM

Great discussions about using the Deck Foot Anchor™. Listen in and see if it is a good solution for your next project.

The Titan Wood Post Anchor is a great solution to have in your building arsenal.

TITAN POST ANCHOR FORUM

The Titan Wood Post Anchor™ is a real work horse and solves a lot of problems. Find out how people use it.

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