Deck Structural Connections Part I

There are several different types of structural hardware connector brackets, plates, and fasteners used to properly build the wood framework of backyard and rear decks.  Here, today, we’re going to take a closer look at these different types of structural connectors in a multi-part series on our blog and website learning about the different types of connectors and the building code requirements for each of these different connector types.

Some of the most common structural connectors used in the framing of wood decks:

Deck Joist Hangers:

Standard Joist Hangers: These metal brackets feature flanges and nail holes designed to securely attach joists to ledger boards or beams. They provide crucial support and stability for the deck framework by holding the joists in place and distributing the weight evenly.

Double Joist Hangers: Similar to standard joist hangers, double joist hangers accommodate two adjacent joists. They are commonly used around posts or beams where multiple joists meet, providing a strong and secure connection while maintaining proper spacing between the joists.

deck joist hangers for deck structural connections

Post Caps and Bases:

Post Caps: Post caps are typically made of metal or plastic and are designed to fit over the top of deck posts. They serve both a functional and aesthetic purpose, providing protection against moisture and weathering while adding a finished look to the deck structure.

Post Bases: Post bases are installed at the bottom of deck posts and are often anchored to concrete footings or piers. They provide stability and support for the posts, helping to prevent settling or movement over time. Post bases also elevate the posts slightly above the ground, reducing the risk of moisture damage.

post caps and bases for deck structural connections

Deck Ledger Anchors:

Through-Bolts: Through-bolts are heavy-duty bolts that pass entirely through the deck ledger board and the house structure. They are installed with washers and nuts on the interior side of the ledger board and provide a secure connection that resists lateral and vertical loads.

Lag Screws: Lag screws are large, coarse-thread screws designed for wood-to-wood connections. They are typically used to attach the ledger board to the house structure and are installed at regular intervals along the length of the ledger. Lag screws provide strong holding power and are essential for ensuring the stability of the deck, in a wood-to-wood connection.

Deck Ledger bolting and anchoring has become an increasingly important issue, like many of the issues related to deck connecting hardware. Over the years, DIY homeowners and or poor quality contractors have cut corners on installation of these particular types of hardware and it has been to a significant destructive detriment to property and casualty type loss inclusive of or additionally with personal injury as well.  In the past 10 years or so this became an important issue for the International Building Code and the International Residential Code.  The individuals behind specific initiatives with these organizations have applied significant increasing pressure on updating and modernizing the building code and requirements around deck building and it has focused on the use of structural connectors, more than anything else.

Wedge anchors and direct to cement lags as shown in the pictures above are the type of fasteners and mechanical connectors needed for connection to solid (not cement or masonry veneer facades) brick and or concrete rear facades.

deck ledger anchors for deck structural connections

Beam Connectors:

Beam Hangers: Beam hangers are metal brackets that attach beams to posts or other supporting members. They provide a secure and stable connection, allowing the beams to bear the weight of the deck structure while minimizing lateral movement. Beam hangers come in various sizes and configurations to accommodate different beam sizes and orientations.  Not to be confused, beam hangers as shown in the illustration below, look very similar to joist hangers, but are generally much larger. Beams are either large continuous single piece wood members or are a laminated application of several joists or wood boards applied together into a larger higher capacity structural element. 

Tension Tie Brackets: Tension tie brackets are used to reinforce the connection between beams and posts, especially in areas where lateral movement may occur. They are installed diagonally between the beam and the post and help prevent the beams from pulling away or shifting under load, ensuring the structural integrity of the deck.

beam connectors for deck structural connections

Railing Connectors:

Railing Post Anchors: Railing post anchors are metal brackets that attach railing posts to the deck framing. They provide a secure connection that prevents wobbling or movement of the railing posts, ensuring the safety and stability of the railing system.

Rail Connectors: Rail connectors are used to join railing sections together or attach railing to the deck surface. They come in various designs, including straight connectors, corner connectors, and end connectors, and are helpful with certain material types, in creating a cohesive and secure railing system that meets building code requirements.

railing connectors for deck structural connections
Miscellaneous Connectors:

Deck Tie Brackets: Deck tie brackets are metal brackets used to provide lateral support at corners or intersections of deck framing. They help prevent lateral movement or sway of the deck structure, especially in areas prone to high winds or seismic activity.

Screw Anchors: Screw anchors are heavy-duty screws designed to secure deck framing to concrete footings or foundations. They provide a strong and reliable connection that resists lateral and vertical loads, ensuring the stability and safety of the deck structure.

Hurricane Clips: Hurricane clips are metal connectors that attach joists to beams or ledger boards. They are designed to resist uplift forces during high winds, helping to prevent deck failure or collapse in severe weather conditions.

Lateral Load Connectors: Lateral load connectors are metal brackets or straps used to prevent lateral movement of deck structures. They are installed at key connection points to reinforce the deck framing and resist forces caused by wind, seismic activity, or other lateral loads.

Post Base and Post Cap Connectors: Post base and post cap connectors are metal brackets or plates, in some cases with synthetic poly-based or neoprene gaskets or separators, used to secure deck posts to footings or piers. They provide stability and support for the posts, helping to prevent settling, lateral movement, and or movement over time, while also protecting the posts from moisture and weathering.  We can call serious damage and rot to the base of post and these brackets not only secure the post in place but also can deter or protect the post from absorption of water at the bottom and then ingress of water into the center of the beam through capillary action.

Deck Tension Ties: Deck tension ties are metal rods or straps used to strengthen the connection between deck framing and the house structure. They are installed diagonally between the deck framing and the house, helping to resist uplift forces and ensure the stability of the deck attachment.

It’s so common for cheapo contractors to skip proper elements of construction to save money, but savings isn’t worth it. Skipping this proper and correct work will come up when the property is resold and re-inspected and the building owner will have to pay the full cost of correction.  At that point, it’s more expensive to fix it on the back end than it is to do it right on the front end. This advice is sad but true, but it’s better to be aware of the reality on the front end than have to deal with it when you’re less prepared on the back end.  

Always use a contractor who is trained, experienced, and understands the local DC regulations for specific deck construction requirements and all areas or aspects of related and associated construction, like our company. Proper planning, grading, and construction techniques will lead to a solid deck that you can use safely for decades of use.

Use a contractor who understands and cares about doing things right.  Always, feel free to reach out to us here at Dupont Decks and Patios.  You can find us online at https://dupontdeckspatiosdc.com/ and you can email us there as well!

deck structural connections

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