The Well-Built and Safe Wood Deck

The use of rot and weather resistant lumber by itself is not enough to guarantee the quality of the deck. Well-built wood decks are characterized by the following:

  • A good, but not necessarily complicated foundation - A deck may not need a foundation as hefty as that of a house, but it does need a good foundation. The best foundations for decks tend to be poured concrete footings with metal post saddles. Small decks or those low to the ground can be built on pre-cast concrete pier blocks.
  • A stable structure - Every year come the stories of collapsed decks. This is often the result of inadequate fasteners at the ledger boards that connects the deck to the house or inadequate lateral bracing. Ledger boards must be bolted to the house and all above ground decks must have some lateral support.
  • Engineering? - Larger and taller decks, decks on hillsides, decks with hot tubs and more complicated deck structures may require some engineering work. How big is big? and when is an engineer required? don't be afraid to ask. A preliminary consultation with an engineer will most likely cost very little and the total cost of the engineering a small faction of the total cost of the project.
  • Flashing - If a deck is fastened to the house, it must also be flashed in a way that will prevent water entry behind the siding and into the wall structure.

  • Hardware - Nails and other fasteners, as well as flashing, joist hangers and hardware must be resistant to water and weather. Under normal conditions, hot-dipped galvanized material is a good choice. If your deck is near salt water, you may want to use stainless steel.

    The Hidden-Deck Fastening SystemsTM from our sponsor EB-TY® come with their own stainless-steel screws, and create a beautiful, safe and durable deck surface.

  • Soil-to Wood Contact - Some pressure-treated lumber has the capacity of withstanding soil contact for 40 years and more, but it will most likely last longer if it is kept out of the