Deck Railing

Would you recommend a bottom STRINGER for additional support of this deck rail?


A bottom board perpendicular to the balusters?, but check the riser gaps.

No, but I would recommend a qualified contractor add a support beam and posts to convert this to a free-standing deck… as it is incorrectly connected to a cantilever. Major accident waiting to happen!

Good eye! :slight_smile:

Courtesy of Joe F.

Page 12

Yes, I have that. I was just too tired to see it.

Please qualify this statement. Are you an architect or PE. Are you ther design professional of record. Are you the AHJ who inspected and approved this installation.

Bottom line is that there are tens of thousands of decks attached to cantilever’d sections like this. Though we may believe it is not ideal, it is fairly accepted practice in the industry. Not all states follow the IRC. Politics often play a part in adoption or acceptance of codes. A municipality may make a code requirement less restrictive. It is ultimately up to the AHJ. Even if your town has adopted the IRC, YOU are not the AHJ, nor are you a licensed design professional.

So, not busting balls here… but what makes you legally qualified to evaluate a structural design, attachment, or component assembly. A home inspection is NOT a code compliance inspection.

Many PEs have problems with HIs precisely for this reason. Many believe we are full of crap.

So, while I may agree that, in theory, this is not an ideal design… you have stated that it is unsafe. We can discuss the validity of stating that the roof load is not directly transferred via pure vertical path of travel to the footings. We can state that the cantilever was designed to carry ONLY the weight of the roof. However, it would be rare that a deck collapsed from shear force at the ledger, as opposed to pulling from the rim joist. We can analyze and pontifficate all day. In the end, it doesnt matter. Only the opinion of the architect, engineer, and AHJ carries any weight.

This is what I say when I see that crap:

“The guardrail construction at the LOCATION(deck/porch/balcony) is unorthodox and we consider it sub-standard. The guardrail structure is composed of balusters only (1.5 inch x 1.5 inch lumber). We recommend the addition of substantial supporting posts of 4x4 lumber as a minimum at corners and other areas. Repairs should be conducted by a state licensed general contractor as deemed appropriate.”

I know you do, as do I in my files, but Joes’ link was faster to find. :smiley:


What is the age of the home and the deck?

You have failed to answer the question.

What makes you LEGALLY qualified to comment on ANYTHING of a structural nature.


Statistically, you cannot qualify your statement. Is the ledger bolted or nailed. Are joist hangars used or are the joists toe nailed and resting on a ledger. Are the posts resting on piers?

Your statement is unqualified. Also, when referring to a building code, be sure and referece the applicable code in force at the time the structure was built. Your reference is from 2006. When was the dwelling and/or deck constructed?

My suggestion is that you familiarize yourself with what the unlicensed practice of professional engineerng is all about.

Missing rail posts:

Girder-post connector seems to be missing:



The document Jeff referenced and based on IRC is flawed in several areas. With regard to this thread, the IRC is flawed in their approved post connection on the top of page 16, Figure 25. A study conducted at Virginia Tech University by Dr. Joseph Loferski, and Dr. Frank Woeste, P.E. with Dustin Albright, showed that the post attachments on the top of page 16, Figure 25, even with numerous blocking details and even with metal hurricane brackets… all failed.

Due to leverage, a 200 pound force at the top of a rail requires almost a couple thousand pounds of resistance at the bolt or lag screws.

Anyway, being up to code doesn’t mean it is safe.


My point is that, all to often, HI’s spout a “defect” in the same manner as a structural evaluation. the comment he made was absolutely unqualified, as the poster is technically unqualified to make any structural determination.

Have we forgotten “What’s Really Important on a Home Inspection”?

Joe, Good words.

I admit, it doesn’t look an ideal setup. Perhaps the deck was designed to be cantilevered, rather than posted, to alleviate some of the weight on the house? How about putting this in the “keep an eye on this, and call a pro if necessary” category.

Look, I’m not busting balls here. I see where inspectors FORGOT what limits there are on what a home inspection is, and what a home inspector may or may not due.

Do we know when a deck joist may be overspanned? Sure we do. We have accesss to the identical guides the PE’s have.

However, we are PROHIBITED from making the STATEMENT that it is overspanned. We may believe it is possibly overspaned, and call out for evaluation by a licensed professional engineer.

I look at every deck I come across in my life. My belief is that 5 out of 6 are built improperly with the ledger attachment being the most common problem, followed by rail construction.

wow you guys are critical! :slight_smile: My last client would love to have the deck that was posted by Mr. Jonas. Check this one out! HINT: this deck is NOT cantilevered from any framing from inside the home. ALL FRAMING ATTACHED TO EXTERIOR

Looks like a SEE-SAW!!


I have the : “Manual for the Inspection of Residential Wood Decks and Balconies”
Cheryl Anderson, Graduate Research Assistant Virgina Tech
Dr. Frank Woeste, P.E. Professor Emeritus, Virgina Tech
Dr, Joseph Loferski Professor, Virgina Tech

Check (North American Deck and Railing Association)

Also (Simpson Strong Tie)

Great Information for a home Inspectors.

My local Structural Engineer is great! I use him when I can.

Glad I live in Chicago…:D;-)