Deck Installations

I very seldom see a deck or patio cover that comes close to being installed correctly.
Here is a deck guide:

Nice, thanks Barry!


I keep seeing this and although it is great info, the railing height requirement in the IRC won’t cut it up here. The requirement up here is 42" and not 36" as stated in these docs and others like it. I am 6’ tall and a 36" railing hits me in the butt and it would not take much for me to go backwards over a 36" railing.

Larry E.

Up here residential can still get away with 36" guardrails, but Commercial is indeed 42".
Your too tall for Residential, move in to a Commercial house. LOL

Marcel :wink:

Thanks Barry!
From now on the decks I build will have spacers.
It makes more sense than face fastening through the flashing and ledger which never really allows water to weep away.
Of course 36" hand rail height is just a minimum and I don’t think I’ll ever set one that low.


But then you get the builder saying “It passes code”

Being tall has stood me well over the years but it also makes it easy for the short guys on the job to say “hand to the tall guy, he can reach it”

Good stuff Barry - Thanks.

Thanks for the info Barry. The deck I inspected today had 6"x6" posts set on top of a concrete patio. I walked over to one centrally located post and was able to easily kick it out. It was not fastened at all. No post hangers. I’m sure there a different methods of attachment as compared to the one diagram in the pdf file link. Brackets, encased in concrete, etc. Here they will cover up the footings with 10’ of backfill if they can get away with it. This deck also had nails counter-sunk approximately to 3/16" with irregular nailing patterns. The rain came and filled the holes. I mentioned the ramifications with premature wood rot due to water intrusion. 5/4" Cheap a$$ grade no. 2 PT. I’m sure it was wet when installed and the nail gun was not adjusted.

Great info Barry.

I like to have material delivered at least a week ahead of starting the project. I then cull through and isolate any material that is over 19% moisture content. I allow this to air dry/season before installation on-site. All material is protected with a trap if rain is in the forecast or if yard irrigation cannot be avoided. Otherwise I leave uncovered.

Another problem I run into and have had consumer complaints about is spacing of top boards.

I was taught and still apply a technique when building decks to take 5-gallon paint stir sticks, work great, or 1/4” shims to space the top boards during installation. This gives a consistent look to the project and will allow water and small debris to pass between. Also allows for expansion and contraction of material due to changes in RH or moisture impact.

High heels should be avoided whenever possible on spaced board decks!
Especially those 4” F-ME Stilettos. Takes the fun out of the hot-tub experience but what can I say, beats a trip to emergency room for a twisted or ankle, always ruins the hot-tub thing.

I always allow completed projects to season 90 days before applying any water treatments or stains. For best application, adhesion, and color consistency a deck/fence wash and rinse should occur before stains or paints are applied.

[FONT=Verdana]All of this info is a directive from past conversations with tech support at Wolmanized Wood and my own experience.[/FONT]

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I often run into the problem of people building decks and not installing the decking with the anular rings facing down. When the decking material cups the rain sits in the depression and stays on the surface far longer than it should. Most do it yourselfers dont know enough to crown joists either.

Larry, I could not agree more, I see this all thetime around here.

People wounder why their pressure treated lumber decking is warping so bad and it is all because of that.

My deck was installed 18 years ago and with a lot of TLC, I have managed to keep it somewhat acceptable to aesthetically visual appearance as I could.

The mistake I did was to space the 5/4 deck boards with a 16 penny nail like I was taught by my Old Man years ago, and found that because of the high moisture content of PT. lumber, it shrinks a lot more than regular lumber that was used years ago. Any pressure treated lumber should be installed tight. The gap will be automatic over time.
Regular treatment of any deck material is a must if longevity of the product is expected.

Just my opinion.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Excellent library material!! Thanks!

Barry, you posted a link 2-3 weeks ago here, and I just found it during a search for deck info. and it’s so good I had to reply, even if it’s late! Amazingly, it’s for Johnson County KS, where I am, so it’s perfect! And it’s a very good pdf file. I downloaded it, and it’s going to be resident on my desktop as a reference from now on. Thanks for a great compact reference!

Great info. Thanks

I have been building decks for 35 years. I have ALWAYS spaced my balusters at 4" OC, not apart, this gives a closer setting of the balusters than code requires. Also, the foot rail or bottom rail for the handrail system shall be no more that 4" off the deck to the bottom of the rail. We use a piece of 2x4 wood as a jig for proper spacing of the foot rail as well.

There is a new product out called “DECK BLOCKS”. This device is made from polycarbonate. It was designed and invented from a guy right here that used to work for NASA. The DECK BLOCK is an inch and a half wide and comes in sizes from 6-12 inches for the ledger. The DECK BLOCK is attached to the structure/rim joist using galvanized 3" screws or 16D galvanized nails. The ledger is then attached over the DECK BLOCKS as to allow for any moisture to pass down the side of the wall to negate any possibility of moisture being trapped in the ledger/siding.

The ledgers that I attach are attached using FASTENMASTER “LEDGERLOCK” Screws. these are hex head and come in 3 3/4" and 5" lengths. These screws have a much higher duty rating and shear factor than standard lag bolts and do not corrode as they do.

As Inspectors you will see all of these if you have not already as well as a myriad of new Simpson products used in these areas. Many States and Counties are accepting and allowing these new products due to their testing and on-site durability.

Thanks for the Residential Decks info as well.

Here are some more good links to deck construction and inspection/maintence …