Wood can rot over time or when over exposed to moisture like a lawn sprinkler. Inspect and replace all rotted framing, decking or railings as needed. Large cracks in framing should also be evaluated and replaced.
Missing or Improper Connections:
Toe-nailing or direct nailing of joists is no longer an acceptable way to secure joists with out additional metal connectors added. Assuming you’re using the correct sized floor joists for your span, the addition of corrosion resistant or stainless steel joist hangers or hurricane ties is an easy way to make your deck flooring system stronger, safer and in compliance with International Building Code [IBC] and International Residential code. [IRC]
Follow the metal connector manufacturer’s recommendations for fastening any metal connector in your deck safety retrofit. My general rule of thumb is to use 16D galvanized nails everywhere I can.
Loose Railings, Stairs, Ledgers or Support Posts:
Decks degrade over time, wood expands and contracts, fasteners can rust or come loose over time and make a potentially dangerous situation. Adding additional support to loose railings or ledgers can easily be accomplished by using ¼” diameter Structural screws or thru-bolts to secure the deck from vertical loads. See VIDEO on Lateral Tension Device.
Thru-bolts should be a diameter of ½” installed through 17/32 to 9/16” pilot holes and have washers at the bolt head and the nut. I like the structural screws because they do not require pre-drilling, are corrosion resistant and designed to be used with pressure treated lumber. Follow manufacturers’ recommendations for fastener length and placement.
Deck ledgers should also have a minimum of two galvanized or stainless steel lateral load connectors [tension ties] connecting the deck joist to the house floor system. [photo right] Each device should have an allowable stress design capacity of not less than 1,500 lbs. I use Simpson’s tension tie # DTT2z on my deck in stalls and retrofits. These connectors tie the deck in to the hose and protect against lateral loads resulting from wind, seismic or people on the deck.
Loose deck support posts should be replaced and the deck frame should be checked to make sure it is still level and the footings have not sunk. Posts should be 4×4 or preferably larger and made from pressure treated material. Post to beam galvanized or stainless steel connecters should be used.
Inspect Metal Components for Corrosion:
Fasteners and connectors can corrode over time. Inspect your deck fasteners and connectors for this as well to see if the proper fasteners were used. For example, many ties people will install joist hangers but then use improper nails to install them. People often install the wrong size joist hanger.
Joist hangers must meet IBC and IRC code of downward capacity. You can determine this by using an approved manufacturer’s product data based on the dimensions of your joist or header that you are carrying.
Use the recommended nails and fasteners for the metal connector you’re installing. Roofing, screws and box nails have no place in any metal connector fastening system and should be replaced and avoided at all costs. Also make sure to install a properly sized nail or fastener into every metal connector hole provided.
Deck support posts should be mechanically fastened both to the footing in the ground and the deck frame or beam. You want to ensure that your deck support posts resist lateral and up lift movement.
If your posts are notched to hold a beam they should be a minimum of 6×6 [nominal] and have a corrosion resistant post to footing and post to beam connector. There are a few retrofit options available to accomplish the post to beam. These connections are needed to resist lateral ad uplift loads.
Replacing the post usually means temporarily supporting the deck and then adding proper metal base connectors. For retrofitting a metal connector into a proper footing you can drill a hole and use a mechanical wedge anchor or epoxy an anchor in place.
Adding diagonal bracing to both the parallel and perpendicular side of the deck post is also a good ideal to reduce lateral motion and racking of the deck. Diagonal braces should be installed at a 45 degree angle 24” down from the beam and 24” out from the post.