Ledger board connection pattern

I keep seeing this in my area (mountains of Colorado), even on new construction and my instinct is that it is not best practice for ledger board connection. From my training, I’ve always seen staggered bolting to distribute the load and minimize chance of splitting.

I’m referring to the three vertical stacked lags in the attached photos. This is just one example but I keep seeing it.

Am I right about this and would you consider this a safety concern/defect or simply not best practice construction?


Those look like ledgerlok construction screws or similar which should be installed in an staggered pattern. They probably used more fasteners than actually needed.

Off topic should there be a z-flashing at the bottom of the ledger where it meets the siding?

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Yes, I’ve read this, thank you. One of the reasons I’m questioning the lack of staggering and looking for opinions on how big of a deal this is

There is more than just ‘staggering’ at issue here, thus why I posted the link.
Can you positively identify the fasteners as approved devices for the application? NEVER assume!
What are the measurements/distances between the “screws” (I don’t consider them ‘bolts’)?
Interesting grain pattern of that board, and the coincidental placement of the fasteners.

I appreciate you saying to question more than just the staggering. I’d still love opinions of the safety implications of this construction.

I don’t believe I can positively fully identify a fastener that I can’t see the sunk portion of… I can only make some guesses but I wouldn’t use that to make a definitive statement. I would agree they are not bolts, thus why I referred to them simply as “lags” because I think they are some form of lag screw.

Are you referring to the PT treatment oozing out where the screws are JJ?

How about the 2nd pic, screw right where the board is split. No bueno…


I was noticing that split as well…

This was just at a friends house and I was checking it out for him. I have a couple of issues with the deck construction. It’s also got 11 foot posts that don’t have any bracing…

I recently did an inspection with a deck that had a 20 foot long ledger with very similar fasteners. There were only 8 visible screws in the whole thing. 4 year old house. Lots of other issues as well. Client was tickled pink that I wrote up the whole deck… :slightly_smiling_face:

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Wow, that’s bad.

I guess with this one, I’m not worried about a lack of attachment hardware but the manner in which it is attached… If this was an inspection job, I’d write it up and recommend having it evaluated by a qualified contractor but since this is for a friend, I’m trying to decide how much to alarm him. I think I see enough issues that I would tell him to have the HOA contact the builder and make them pay for a third party inspection/repair, since this is only two years old.

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Vail follows the 2018 IRC. Look up section R507 Exterior Decks for what is acceptable. If it’s for a friend, just point out what is recommended for ledger install and tell them to keep an eye on it considering the snow you guys get…

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I am beginning to see more and more split/cracked ledgers when the pattern is wrong. Apparently the AWC knows a thing or two.

That’s what I’m thinking about. Intuitively, distributing the load via staggering of the attachments should minimize the chance for splitting. Doing it the way it’s done in my picture seems like a potentially dangerous construction practice.

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The AWC (American Wood Council) is the authority that creates the AWC DCA-6 document that Code is based of off. The link I posted is the most current version (2015-2018) with the next release being this or next year. According to the AWC, there is little that will change in the next version, except being for some updates such as with some recently approve fasteners and updates to span tables, (specifically with southern yellow pine, if I remember correctly).



GA had a deck amendment where they used the AWC prescription up until now. GA recently adopted the 2018 IRC, New construction under the new 2018 are now coming online. They will be using IRC.

I have yet to do a deep dive comparing the AWC (which I know very well) with IRC 2018. A cursory glance tells me they are similar. Time for me to get up to speed.

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The worst part of a situation such as this is not what one does see, it’s what one doesn’t or CANNOT see. Whether the pattern is stacked vertically like in the OP pictures, stagered/offset, 1/2" lag bolts, screws, etc… Unless you are there to watch the ledger get attached in person, you can’t tell exactly what they are attached to. Could be a solid rim joist, 2x4 studs, or just OSB sheathing. Regardless, going into CYA mode for inspecting would be the best course of action with this particular issue.

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Mike is right with that. It is all about covering your behind.

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Deleted, couldn’t get the link to work.