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