Layout and Ledgers are Key Deck Components Layout and Ledgers are Key Deck Components

Building a backyard deck so your family can enjoy your backyard space or just add to the resale value of your home? Two basic components to build a good looking, long lasting backyard deck are having a proper (square) and a firmly attached ledger board. Here's how to ensure these key components of your backyard deck are done properly.

Attaching the ledger board

  • The ledger board helps supports the end of the deck closest to your house so it needs to be strong and solid enough to hold the weight of the structure .
  • The best way to attach the ledger board is using carriage bolts run directly through the board,i nto the rim joist of your foundation. Use a carbide tipped drill bit in a high speed or hammer drill to drill the holes through your foundation walls.
  • If getting access to your rim joist (on the inside of your house) so you can attach the washers and nuts to the carriage bolts is not practical, an alternative to carriage bolts is lag bolts through the ledger board into your foundation wall.
  • If your house has wooden or vinyl siding, you may need to remove a piece of the siding to get access to the foundation wall. Measure up 6" to 8" from the bottom, mark the height and cut the siding with a circular saw (wood) or a sharp utility knife( vinyl).
  • Before drilling any holes to attach the ledger board, measure and mark the location for the holes on the outside wall, ensuring they are level and spaced about 24" apart.
  • After installing the ledger board add a piece of metal flashing along the top edge to protect the wooden board from water damage over the years.

Laying out your deck

  • "Triangulation" is a easy way to ensure your deck is square to your house. While "triangulation" sounds complicated at first, it's actually very straight forward, since it's based on the ratios of the lengths of the sides of a right angle triangle ( 3-4-5).
  • Start by tacking a piece of string to the ledger board about 12" off the ground then extend the string 3' out from the board and drive a stake into the ground to mark the spot. (point A)
  • Next, starting at the stake you just placed, move parallel to your house and measure out a distance of 4' the mark that spot with another stake (point B).
  • If your corner is perfectly square the distance from point B to the starting place on the ledger board will be exactly 5'. If it isn't, you need to adjust the stakes (point A or Pont B) until the distance is correct. Follow the same process at the other corner and you can be sure your new deck will be perfectly square at the corners.
  • You aren't restricted to using 3, 4 and 5 foot lengths to layout your deck, any multiples of these numbers will give the correct results ( for example 6,8, 10 or 9,12,15).
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer whose work has appeared on numerous web sites, as well as in newspapers and books in both the US and Canada. He is often cited as an expert on home related topics.

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