Deck joist direction

This balcony is attached by ledger. Originally I thought it was cantilevered, but then I was able to see that it’s not. I used a putty knife to show that. The ledger is nailed on and appears to be pulling a little. There’s no flashing which I’m not concerned about because there’s a roof over it. My question is shouldn’t the deck joists be perpendicular to the house and attached to the ledger board?

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When ever I have a deck over 6’ high I always add this statement: Limited framing support was observed. While no immediate concern was noted, today’s construction would require larger / additional framing.


Ledger should be lagged to the structure, joists should be attached to ledger with joist hangers running perpendicular to the ledger. As far as the flashing goes, ever see it rain sideways? Just saying…

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So, what actually supports the floor joists? How is the rim boards (supporting the floor joists) attached to the ledger? There is a very peculiar load distribution across the floor joists which do not seem properly supported. In a conventional build the ledger attaches to the home with multiple fasteners, the other end of the floor joists are supported by a beam and posts. None of that happens here. You need a structural engineer.


Deck lacked proper fasteners of the ledger board to the house. Joists lacked hangers. And yes…awesome question about the direction of the joists… totally seems they should be run perpendicular to the house/ledger. Also, for the height, there should be some additional bracing/diagonal bracing. I don’t remember if the online class discussed the direction of the joists? Might consult with a structural engineer and/or contractor for more insight on the joist direction. Please let me know…I’ll ask around too.

Well, looks like it also lacking proper fasteners at the posts, missing joist hangers, single headers. I’m pretty sure it is also missing proper connectors at top rail (to post).
Its just missing a lot of hardware and it’s too high up to let it go.

As with floor joists, cantilevered joists follow the same pattern.

Decking orientation. Diagonal to joists. Typically decking is perpendicular.

Joist rotation. Blocking, bridging or strapping.

Raised Deck bracing. Colosseum require Anti Sway.


Lol yes I realize rain doesn’t come straight down. I still noted in report there wasn’t any ledger flashing, and I also noted there was no damage found. It is well covered by the roof structure. From what I could see, the only thing securing the parallel floor joists to the house was the 2 perpendicular joists on the ends attached to the ledger. Of course, you can say that the floor planking is adding some connection, but that’s certainly limited. And not what they’re designed for. I also noted the fastener only beam connection to the posts and that the posts are a shared load with the roof and and deck. I called for structural evaluation.

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I believe it needs support post where the balcony meets the dwelling.

Come to Oklahoma!!!

The deck is not attached to the home by a ledger. The joists run parallel to the home between two doublers. The doubler attachment to the home structure would be your main concern. I see no problem at all here.

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Depends on the connection used, which isn’t shown here.

How you doing, Roy? You going to survive to continue giving us all our ration of… well, you know. We need you, man. You’re an important member of this industry.

“Between two doublers”? What’s a doubler? I’m guessing you mean double joists? They aren’t doubled up. That’s 3/4" cedar cladding nailed to the outer joists.

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Yeap, it’s held in place by the rim joists, insane! Kenton must have missed the pic with the drywall knife. Even if they were double and properly attached to the house, I’d still call it out as they would carry the load of the entire deck. When a ledger is used the load is spread across all joists. In this case the load is carried by 2 single 2x rim joists.

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Refer it out to a Qualified Deck Specialist, Qualified Contractor or a Structural Engineer or look for a lawsuit waiting to happen!


Worth repeating, what Larry said above.

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Framer for 30+ years in CA and CO. Pieced joists for 2 years. Two joists together are called “doublers”, but you know Ryan… terms for the same things change with region and profession.

But you’re right. I didn’t look closely enough and just assumed they would use doublers to support field joists. They didn’t.

No worries I assumed that’s what you meant. Thanks for responding! I’m here to learn.

Ryan Hesselberg
Hess Home Inspection

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Typically, joists would be oriented perpendicular to the home exterior wall and would be connected to a doubled rim joist at their other end. In this case, the joists are oriented parallel to the exterior wall and are fastened to single joists along either side. I would call single joists out as inadequate and recommend a Structural Engineer evaluation. The bearing joist connection to the home structure is also a concern since you can’t see it and the framing is structurally suspect anyway.

My narrative would be something like “Deck framing was non-typical and appeared to be structurally inadequate. The Inspector recommends evaluation by a structural engineer to ensure that safe conditions exist”.

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Along with what Kenton said above, when 5/4 decking boards are used, the joists must be 12" on center.