Knowing the different parts of a deck can guide you in understanding how a deck installation works.
A deck has several components that contribute to its strength, capacity, endurance, and safety. The major parts of a deck include the foundation, framing, decking, railing, stairs, drainage system, and hidden fasteners.
If you are curious about what makes an ideal deck, stick around, and learn its essential parts.
Parts of a Deck
Like any other building or house component, a deck should have a solid foundation that holds up the entire structure. Three major parts make up the groundwork of a deck.
The footing is the very foundation of your deck. First, it is laid on the excavated portion of the ground. Then, concrete is poured to strengthen and carry the overall structure of the deck. Simply put, the footing acts as the base.
However, before you can plan on how much concrete and how deep the footing should be on the ground, you have to check your local building code and the frost depth requirement in your region or state.
For a standard 12 X 12 deck, you should aim for at least three footings. But if you’re planning to add stairs, add two more footings for better support.
The pier is also made of concrete poured into a column or cardboard tubes. Of course, the number of piers or posts depends on how many footings you have. These posts function to hold up the beams.
Moreover, having sturdy piers or posts not only allows good airflow. But they also ensure that you can perform underboard repairs safely and conveniently.
Hence, enabling smooth maintenance of the deck.
Once the foundation is laid down, here comes the framing that gives the deck a case structure. The frame includes the beams, joist, ledger, support columns, band board, and post base.
The ledger is connected to the house and usually leveled to the floor of the main home structure.
It is typically made of pure or treated lumber measuring at least 2×8 nominal and attached horizontally to the house’s exterior wall.
The size should be the same as that of the measurement of the joist.
Although the foundation plays a big part in holding up the deck, ensuring that the ledger is fixed tightly on the main building is another vital safety precaution for homeowners. That is why the installation process should comply with the building code.
2.2 Support Columns
The support or structural columns/posts are connected to the pier and hold the beam. The size of the columns depends on the expected capacity of the deck.
Standard sizes for support columns range from 4 feet x 4 inches to 8 feet x 8 inches.
A deck beam is a longitudinal piece of lumber placed on top of the structural columns.
The beams are essential for framing and substructure support. They are typically made of wood or composite materials.
Beams are usually positioned perpendicular to the joists. You can opt for either flush beams or drop beams.
Flush beams are placed at the same level as the joist, which is attached using the joist hangers. If you’re building a smaller deck or one with an atypical form, then flush beams are the way to go.
On the other hand, a drop beam is placed right under the joists. This position provides better weight support for the frame.
Furthermore, if you choose a drop beam, you can extend and add a cantilever that enhances the deck’s aesthetic.
Joists are planks of pure or treated timber that support the deck boards. They are placed on top or at a similar level as the beams and are positioned parallel to one another.
Likewise, joists often run perpendicular to the house as the deck boards are parallel to the main building.
The distance of the joists depends on the position of the beams and ledger. The local building code dictates that residential decks should have the joists distanced at 12 inches to 16 inches apart when it comes to spacing.
2.5 Rim Joist
The rim joists are lumber that act as the outer joist covering parts of the deck structure. They are connected perpendicular to the joists.
The header is located on the opposite end of the ledger. It covers and supports the outer side of the joists.
After the framing is complete, the next step is decking, wherein you install the deck’s flooring.
While this is considered the most exciting part of the deck building process, there are several considerations when choosing the best flooring materials, particularly the deck boards.
3.1 Deck Boards
Deck boards make the surface of the deck that people walk on. Available deck boards come in different species of timber and composite materials made by combining wood components and plastic.
As a rule of thumb, the first thing you have to think about when choosing deck boards is thickness.
The strength of the flooring relies on the foundation, framing, and deck board thickness. This attribute is also influenced by joist spacing.
If the spaces between the joists are too far apart, you may want to consider stronger deck boards for optimum support.
Nonetheless, one of the best decisions you can make is selecting quality deck boards that could last a lifetime. With this choice, you can rely on deck board collections from TimberTech.
Putting stairs on your deck is vital, depending on the height of the structure. Naturally, the stairs allow you to go up and down the deck without having to go inside the house.
For deck stairs, the essential components include a tread, riser, and stringer fascia. In some cases, stylish railings are added.
The tread is the part you step on when you ascend or descend.
On the other hand, the riser is positioned vertically to the tread.
The stringer fascia provides the overall support and framework of the stairs and holds the treads.
It’s hard not to imagine a high deck without railings.
On the other hand, for houses with low decks, this seems to be a common occurrence.
Nevertheless, adding railings to your deck will not only provide additional safety, but it can also make the structure visually appealing.
5.1 Top Rail/Cap Rail
The horizontal structure at the very top of the rail is called a cap rail or top rail. It provides efficient finishing on the railing system.
Choosing a top rail depends on the overall design of your deck.
Materials for the top rail should be carefully screened. You can opt for a metal or timber top rail.
If your deck style works well with wood, choose quality lumber to avoid cases of splinters.
Also, you can go for composite materials to keep the beauty of the wood while providing added strength and endurance.
5.2 Base Rail
The base rail is a horizontal structure attached to the flooring of the deck. It also contains the baluster and keeps the entire structure fixed to the deck perimeter.
The balusters provide the intended barrier of the railing system. They are placed in between the top and base rail with enough space for airflow.
6. Drainage System
In some cases, a drainage system may be considered optional. However, it is necessary for decks that store water unintentionally.
Since most decks are made of wood, prolonged exposure to water can cause irreversible damages. Hence, installing a drainage system can be beneficial.
Consult with your contractor if your deck needs to have a draining structure.
Deckbuilding need not be complicated if you know the parts and how to install them properly. But if you truly want to get the convenience you deserve, it is still best to hire professional deck builders.If you are located in the Northern Colorado/ Southern Wyoming area, then give us a call today at 970-663-2868 or visit our deck building services page and fill out the contact form to make an appointment to discuss your next home improvement project.