Need deck advice!


Old 04-16-16, 01:36 PM
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Need deck advice!

Hello all and thanks in advance for your input. Just bought a house, and turning my attention to the deck that came with it. The deck is actually comprised of two separate 8'x12' decks:

The "original deck" is attached to the house on one side and rests on two 6x6 posts with a 2-2x10 beam topper on the other side (the 12' side is attached to the house).

The "addition deck" is about a foot lower than the original deck; it's lag-screwed to the original deck's 2-2x10 beam on one side, and rests on a similar 6x6 post + 2-2x10 beam on the other side.

As you can see in the photos, there is some bracing provided by several 4x4's.

Note that the result of this particular setup is that I have a total usable deck area of about 12'x15' (15' not 16' because there is a 1-foot overlap), but the two halves are NOT level, and each half by itself isn't big enough for anything!

All that explained, I have two questions:

1. Is this deck safe? What can I do to improve it?
2. What's the SECOND BEST way to create one level deck? (I think the best way is to demolish the "addition deck" and build it up from scratch, but trying to avoid that if it's at all possible.)

If you have trouble with the attached photos, try this google album link:

Thanks again for your input! Much appreciated!

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Old 04-16-16, 02:14 PM
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Looks okay but there's no substitute for being there in person to do an inspection. Pretty sure there are no lateral tension devices anywhere, looks to me like you need at least 2 on each section of deck, upper and lower. The bracing down low on the posts looks pretty hokey. Check all joist hangers for full nailing... with the right kind of nails. And check handrail is to code, no more than 4" sphere may pass anywhere. Are those posts embedded in concrete? Is the footing above grade or below grade? How are the beams attached to the tops of the posts? And how are the joists that rest on top of the beams attached to the beams? How many fasteners hold the ledger to the house? How many fasteners hold the lower deck ledger to the rim? How thick and how long are the lags, and do they have washers? Are you sure they are not bolts? Does the step have equal rise on each step? (+/- 3/8")

Assuming the lower deck is structurally sound you could build on top of it after removing the decking... running new joists perpendicular to the existing, then use ample rafter ties to hold everything together. IMO the existing deck looks fine aesthetically.
Old 04-16-16, 09:00 PM
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X Sleeper - thanks very much for your time and input! I'm going to try to address all your questions, but first - when you refer to "lateral tension devices" are you talking about something like the Simpson DTT2Z? Found that doing a google search; I don't have access to the house floor joists because the ledger is connected to the header board running between two finished living areas... In any case, please advise on what exactly a lateral tension device is and how I might apply it in my particular situation.

With regard to the "hokey bracing" - i don't believe the intent there was structural stability; the guy who sold me this house told me he used to store firewood there.

Here are some more photos to address your various questions:

The posts are not embedded in concrete, but appear to be attached to the top end of a concrete footing which is below grade but covered with gravel instead of dirt. Metal post anchors are visible:
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With regard to how the beams are attached to the posts: i don't see anything other than the mitered 4x4's fastening the beams to the posts (although I guess you could say that the "addition deck" ledger is technically connecting the "original deck" beam to its posts...):
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W/r/t how joists are attached to beams: the "original deck" has what looks like starhead screws fastening the joists to the beams. the "addition deck" has nails doing that job but they don't look like they're driven at a very good angle:
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Finally - there are 10 fasteners holding the ledger to the house; I'm not sure these aren't bolts, guessing they're lags. There are 14 fasteners holding the "addition deck" ledger to the "original deck" beam; the ledger is 1.5" thick and the beam is 3" thick total, so these lags are less than 4" long.
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That's it for now. Can't thank you enough for your time here helping me out... Really appreciate it.
Old 04-17-16, 07:48 PM
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Well you can probably identify a few issues if you compare those questions i asked with your existing structure, along with the help of this online deck guide.

My biggest concerns would probably be the way the beam sits atop the post (no post to beam hanger... only that goofy 4x4 angle brace), the number of fasteners used in both ledgers seem insufficient for a deck ledger that is 12'? long. And looks like they used 2x6 hangers for the joists on the main ledger (wrong) and the right size hangers for the joists on the addition. The joists could all have rafter/hurricane ties at the beam to prevent uplift. 3 toenails is also acceptable I guess, but the connector is better. In one pic, I see the floor boards have no blocking to rest on around the handrail posts... that's a big oversight. I'm assuming that lower ledger has black ledgerloks lags in it?

You can figure all this out yourself if you compare that deck guide in the link to your existing structure, then you can make the call. Hope it helps!
Old 04-18-16, 08:50 AM
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Why anyone would use a 6" hanger for an 8" joist beats the hell out of me. I don't suppose there's anything I can do about it at this point, aside maybe from driving in a bunch of toenails...

Anyway, I agree with you...the post-to-beam connection is what worried me the most, too. Seemed like the beam was just resting on the post without any kind of real fastening, aside from "that goofy 4x4 angle brace". Seemed insufficient initially, and I'm obviously not a deck pro. Do you have a recommendation as to how I can remedy that? It's more an issue with the "addition deck" because the "original deck" beam and post appear to be braced with the "addition deck" ledger. I'm thinking about adding a couple of mitered 2x10 braces flush against the post and beam, and tucked in behind the rim joist, kind of like what I drew here in yellow:

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What do you think? I could add more 2x10's to the other side of that 4x4 brace to 'sandwich' it...

That guide you linked is very helpful. According to Table 3, it appears that my beam span (about 9'7") is a little more than a foot too long for my 8' joists.

Your assumption about black ledgerloks in the lower ledger is as good as any... the heads are black in color. not sure how to verify short of taking one out...
Old 04-18-16, 09:01 AM
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Why anyone would use a 6" hanger for an 8" joist beats the hell out of me
Me either but I'm building a deck right now and noticed at our local Lowes they show the 6" hangers being for 2x6s and 2x8s. Maybe the manufacture is trying to cut costs ??
Old 04-18-16, 11:17 AM
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Your braces you want to install want hurt anything, but the current bracing looks sufficent and it seems unnecessary to add more unless you are noticing some sway in the deck. One other thing I just noticed, though... is that according to figure 24 in the deck guide, your handrail posts should be a maximum of 6' on center. So you might want to add some posts to the handrail.

For the post to beam, you could remove the "goofy 4x4 angle brace" and add a Simpson LPC6Z to the top of the post/beam connection. Like you said, the outside is kind of being reinforced by the ledger on the deck addition.

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