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Deck Part II – Structure

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This second of three articles will go through the process of putting the deck posts in, and building the main structure of the deck….beams, ribbon joist and joist.

After getting the ground prepped and drilling the holes for the posts it was time to call the building inspector to do his check of the holes. Not really sure what they are looking for but maybe the thought is that they need to keep an eye on contractors trying to cut corners, not the case here as we followed all code, plus some, to make sure we have beyond satisfactory results.

After the inspector gave his approval I went about putting in the two posts closest to the house so that I could base all the other post off these two. This turned out to be a big mistake on my part since I put the first post in without taking into the account how it related to the 21 other holes! SO, basically I had to move all the railing support holes over a few inches. Was not to bad since most of the hole was already there but disappointing since we spent so much time trying to get the holes in the right spot.


After putting in the two posts against the house we set up a string line to make a complete rectangle. This string was strung from the two corner poles running the length of the deck and tied off to a rail that we could slid the string along to make adjustments. We then checked for square again and marked off the location of the post along the string.

We then dumped about 2-3″ of concrete powder into the bottom of the hole, wet down, mixed up and then let sit for several minutes. We would then put the full length post into the hole and made sure that we were level in all directions up against the string guideline. Then we dumped the rest of the bag of concrete powder around the post making sure it was held level and after that we topped off with the dirt dug out of the hole, pounding firm with a ice pick for every few inches of dirt that we dumped in.


Below are a few images of the installed posts. The 9 posts in the middle are 10′ 4x4s cut in half that will be supporting the beams. The other post are all extending up to the top of the railing. The super tall post are for the lattice privacy screen.

Below we are starting to put the three beams in place. These are made by bolting a 2×8 to either side of three supporting posts. The inspector made it clear that bolting is not the preferred method in 2014 but since the deck is less then two feet off the ground it should be fine. ( It has to do with the pressure treatment of the wood possibly eating the hot-dipped bolts.)

Started by measuring from the door a distance down that included the joist and deck to the top of the beam. We then ran a string level across the entire back of the deck and made the beams level with that. I ended up also using another 2×8 on the outside edge just to check the level from beam to beam. Am sure there are more proper tools or methods of doing this but it worked out perfect for us! We screwed in place with 2 1/1″ deck screws for the moment.


Below the beams and ribbon joist are all in place. We made sure each beam and joist was level off each other. Proof that you really need to make sure you are square and level! Worked out beautifully for us.

Attached the ribbon joist with deck screws and then when though and put two 1/2″ carriage bolts through each post. Used a 1/2 super long spade bit to drill these holes, pounded though with a hammer and then used the impact driver to put the nuts on….took no time at all. Impact drivers are amazing!


With joist installed. Measured for 16″ centers are both sides, taking into consideration the overlap in the middle, and when to town. Am super glad we decided to use screws since I was able to hold the joist and bracket with one hand and put the screw in with the other. Would have proven to be much harder if not impossible to do solo with nails and hammer.

Below are some pictures of the block and bolt for the posts. There is a special bracket that can be used for this but why buy it if you can make it!

On a Friday night some of the brothers came down to help screw off and put the decking on.

That is probably a good place to stop part 2. The next section will be the deck, railing, stairs and lattice installation.

**As of today 7/8/14 the deck as passed final inspection with flying colors!**

See you next time!

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