Sneak Peek: Our New and Improved Deck Design Guide

One of the ways I get through winter every year is by looking forward to the weekend in March when we set our clocks ahead and “spring forward” into Daylight Savings time. Some people don’t like this change because of the lost hour of sleep, but to me it means the weather shouldn’t be cold for much longer.

The coming of spring means getting to walk to the car in daylight at the end of the workday. It also means getting the garden started for the year and spending more time outside in general.

Of course, I’m not alone in being happy to see winter go.

In the residential world, the phenomenon of “deck season” coincides with this time of year.  Homeowners with decks are getting ready for summer by giving their decks a cleaning and looking them over for any needed maintenance. Now’s the time that new or replacement decks are being planned and built to be enjoyed for the rest of the year.

deck-season

It’s no coincidence, then, that our deck-code guide has been updated again in time for warmer weather. The Deck Connection and Fastening Guide goes detail by detail (ledger connection, joist-to-beam connection, beam-to-post connection, etc.) through a typical deck and identifies the relevant building-code requirements (2012 and 2015 IRC/IBC) and connection options.

Our deck-code guide can be a helpful reference to an engineer who is just getting acquainted with decks, and can also bring you up to speed on revisions to the IRC that can necessitate engineering changes to even a relatively simple residential deck. Multilevel decks, guardrail details, ledger details and foundation challenges are all examples of things a deck builder could call you for assistance with.

For more information on resources available to engineers on deck design, feel free to consult my previous blog article, Wood-framed Deck Design Resources for Engineers.

The Deck Connection and Fastening Guide

F-DECKCODE17

This guide provides instructions on how to recognize defects and deficiencies in existing decks, and guidance for building a strong, safe, long-lasting new or renovated deck structures.


For more deck-related blog posts, check out the links below:

Fine Homebuilding Video Series: How to Build a Deck

We’re partnering with folks at Fine Homebuilding on a video series on how to build a deck that is code compliant and that highlights the critical connections of a deck. This series is called Ultimate Deck Build 2016. The video series comprises five videos that walk professionals through the recent code changes for the key connections of a deck.

The series features David Finkenbinder, P.E., a branch engineer for Simpson Strong-Tie who is passionate about deck codes and safety. He offers information on load resistance and the hardware that professionals can use at the crucial connections to make a deck code compliant. “This was a great opportunity to collaborate with the team at Fine Homebuilding, to communicate the connections on a typical residential deck and the role that they serve to develop a strong deck structure,” said David. “These same connections would also likely be common in similar details created by an Engineer, when designing a deck per the International Building Code (IBC).”

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The videos are being released every Wednesday during the month of March and feature the following deck connections:

  • Ledger Connection: This is the primary connection between a deck and a house. David tells the Fine Homebuilding team about various code- compliant options for attaching a deck ledger to a home.
  • Beam and Support Posts: David explains how connectors at this critical point can prevent uplift and resist lateral and downward forces. He also discusses footing sizes and post-installation anchor solutions.
  • Joists: This video reviews proper joist hanger installation and the benefits of installing hurricane ties between the joists and the beams. David goes into common joist hanger misinstallations, such as using the wrong fasteners or using a joist hanger at the end of a ledger.
  • Guardrail Posts: David reviews the different ways that you can attach a guardrail post so as to resist an outward horizontal load.
  • Stairs: David explains code-compliant options for attaching stringers to a deck frame.

Make sure to watch the series and let us know what you think. For more information, Fine Homebuilding has created an article titled “Critical Deck Connections.”

(Please note: this article is member-only/subscription content, so to read it you’ll need to either subscribe online or pick up the April/May issue of Fine Homebuilding.)

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Pier Decking Fasteners

This week’s post is a case study featuring a recent restoration job on the central coast of California and how Simpson Strong-Tie® hot-dipped galvanized screws proved to be a better option than traditional spikes.

A pier originally constructed in the 1800s was closed a few years ago as general deterioration caused the structure to become unsafe. As preparation for rebuilding the pier began, one of the major concerns was the attachment of the deck boards to the framing.

Traditionally, the deck boards have been attached with hot-dip galvanized 60d (0.283″ x 6″) spikes. However, spikes have a low withdrawal resistance, are typically predrilled and have a multi-step installation process. In addition, spikes, over time, can begin to back out so that the heads protrude above the top of the deck boards. This creates an unsafe condition for pedestrians and also results in ongoing maintenance work. Here you can see one of the old spikes.

Corroded spike for deck board fastening.

Corroded spike for deck board fastening.

Simpson Strong-Tie provided two options for replacing these spikes: the Strong-Drive® Timber-Hex HDG screw, SDWH27800G, and its stainless-steel counterpart, the Strong-Drive Timber-Hex SS screw, SDWH27800SS. The SDWH27800G screw measures 0.276″ x 8″ and has a hot-dip galvanized coating, conforming to ASTM A153 Class-C. The SDWH27800SS screw measures 0.276″ x 8″ and is made from Type 316 stainless steel. Both of these screws have integral washer, hex-drive heads and are self-drilling. They are not intended to be self-countersinking though, and as a result, installation with the heads below the deck surface requires a shallow dapped hole.

A comparison of the load values was provided to Shoreline Engineering, Inc. engineers Bruce S. Elster, P.E., and Jonathan T. Boynton, P.E., for their review and approval. In addition, Simpson Strong-Tie Fastening Systems/Dealer Sales Representative Darwin Waite expertly conducted on-site demonstrations for numerous decision makers including the contractor and city officials. These demonstrations allowed the contractor and owners to compare the labor costs and finished appearance of the different fastening methods.

Simpson Strong-Tie Fastening Systems Dealer Sales Representative Darwin Waite takes selfie on the completed dock.

Simpson Strong-Tie Fastening Systems Dealer Sales Representative Darwin Waite takes selfie on the completed dock.

Below is a comparison of the allowable load values* of the potential fasteners. We can see how each of the Simpson Strong-Tie screw options exceeds the spike load values in all load conditions.

Table 1. Comparative allowable properties for hot-dip galvanized spikes (60d), hot-dip galvanized screws (SDWH27600G, SDWH27800G) and stainless steel screws (SDWH27600SS and SDWH27800SS).

Table 1. Comparative allowable properties for hot-dip galvanized spikes (60d), hot-dip galvanized screws (SDWH27600G, SDWH27800G) and stainless steel screws (SDWH27600SS and SDWH27800SS).

*Not to be used for design purposes as footnotes have been left out of this blog post. Table values include wet service factor adjustments.

In the end, the SDWH27800SS stainless-steel screw was specified for the project.

Some might consider a 316 stainless steel screw to be cost prohibitive, but when you factor in the lower cost of installation, the lower maintenance requirements and the actual cost of the fastener, this screw turned out to be the lowest cost  alternate. In addition, it provided better withdrawal and lateral load values than the spikes.

 This picture shows the deck fastening in progress. The screws are set and ready for driving with screw driving tools.

This picture shows the deck fastening in progress. The screws are set and ready for driving with screw-driving tools.

The Strong-Drive Timber-Hex SS screws made it possible to complete the deck restoration on time and on budget. Perhaps just as importantly, the pier looks beautiful and should last for many years to come.

Let us know if the comments below if you have any questions about specifying these fasteners for securing decks, docks, pilings and other heavy-duty, coastal applications.

pierdeck

As always, call our Engineering Department if you have any questions.

Have you used the SDWH27800SS screw for a project? Tell us about in the comments below.

 

Deck Fasteners – Deck Board to Framing Attachments

When you’re building a deck, it’s important to know the types of fasteners you need to use with the various materials that are available. On this week’s post we explore some deck fastener applications as well as offer suggestions on how to avoid a few common problems. We will address two generic types of deck boards fastened to wood framing: preservative-treated wood and composite decking.

Preservative-Treated Wood Decking

With preservative treated wood, it pays to know the board treatment. Wood is treated with a water-borne treatment chemical (typically micronized copper azole these days) and then it is either sent out wet or it is kiln dried. Wet-treated wood can have a moisture content (MC) greater than 30%. Wood that is subsequently kiln dried to remove excess moisture after the treatment process is labeled Kiln-Dried After Treatment (KDAT) and has a MC of about 15%. Wood deck boards with preservative treatments will be labeled as such regardless of their moisture condition.

The moisture condition of the deck boards determines how best to fasten and space your deck boards. Wet wood will shrink in width and thickness after installation. As a result, you should install these boards butted tight so that gaps will emerge after they dry in place. On the other hand, KDAT wood or wood that is dry should be installed with 1/8” gaps between boards so there is a slight gap after the boards get wet and swell due to rain, ice and snow. Some manufacturers suggest using an 8d common nail for spacing when installing KDAT decking, as seen in the figure below.

Deck Shrinkage and Swelling

Deck Shrinkage and Swelling

Shrinking and swelling of any installed deck board can cause the deck fastener to bend back and forth with the MC cycling. This causes many deck fasteners to break because of the fatigue loading, which can be exacerbated by the brittle steel used in most deck screws.

To combat this problem, Simpson Strong-Tie developed the DSV Wood screw. This screw is specifically designed with increased ductility to handle the bending induced by deck board movement. It is available in a variety of lengths with threads optimized to prevent jacking between the deck board and the framing, ensuring a snug long-lasting connection.

DSV wood screw

DSV wood screw

Composite deck boards are made from a mixture of wood fiber and plastic or are entirely “plastic.” Wood plastic composites and plastic materials exhibit thermal expansion, so they expand and contract in thickness, width and length as a function of temperature and solar heating. Consequently, they typically require a special screw designed for composite decking. Screws for this application will often utilize a two-thread design. The lower thread drives the screw into the framing while the upper thread pulls the loosened composite material back into the hole and holds the deck board tight to the joist. Composite screws also have a cap-style head that covers any residual material left around the screw body and leaves a clean finish. Ductility is important to these screws too.

Given the wide variety of composite deck producers, we designed a screw that works well with all of them. The DCU screw works in all types of composite decking fastened to wood framing.

A note about cellular PVC deck boards: the manufacturers’ recommendation of stainless-steel screws restricts the use of many deck board fasteners. Be sure to read and follow the decking material fastener requirements. Simpson Strong-Tie has a broad offering of painted stainless-steel deck screws available to match PVC deck boards. Find the proper match for your board here.

For other deck fastener applications, including decking fastened to steel framing, and information about other deck fasteners available, see our website product page.

Are there other applications that you want to know about that we didn’t share here? Let us know in the comments below. As always, call us in the Engineering Department if you have questions.

 

 

2015 IRC Adds New Options for Deck Construction

Early this summer a package arrived at my office that I knew right away was either a copy of a new building code or design standard. Some codes or standards are more exciting than others to open up and see what’s new and different. As it turns out, this package was the just-published 2015 International Residential Code (IRC). With my interest in wood decks, I have to admit that this was new information that I was happy to see.

Why? Similar to my blog post in May mentioning the limited design resources currently available to engineers, the IRC itself is also a work in progress when it comes to the prescriptive details included for decks. Performance requirements for the framing and guards has always been included in Chapter 3, but it wasn’t until the 2009 and 2012 editions that prescriptive information for attaching a deck ledger to a wood band joist with lag screws or bolts, and a detail for transferring lateral loads to a support structure, were included. Key improvements for the 2015 IRC include provisions for composite materials, clarification of the prescriptive ledger information, and prescriptive information for decking, joist and beam allowable spans, post heights and foundations.

Lateral load connections at the support structure were a significant topic during the development of the 2015 IRC. The permitted method already in the code involves constructing the Figure 507.2.3(1) detail with 1,500 pound hold-downs, in two or more locations per deck. The detail transfers the lateral load by bypassing the joist hanger and ledger connections, and ultimately transfers it into the floor diaphragm of the support structure. The concentrated nailing on the floor joist and the need to have access from below to the install the hold-down can cause undesirable complications for builders with existing conditions. A number of common conditions also differ significantly from the detail, such as the floor joists running parallel to the deck ledger and alternate floor joist types, including i-joists or trusses. In response to frequently-asked-questions from the industry, our technical bulletin T-DECKLATLOAD provides commentary to consider for these situations. The technical bulletin also offers an alternate floor joist-to-sheathing connection that may save the builder from removing a finished floor in an existing condition or from adding additional sheathing nailing from above.

2015 International Residential Code

Figure: 2015 International Residential Code; International Code Council

In order to provide greater flexibility, a second option is now included in the 2015 IRC: constructing Figure R507.2.3(2) with 750 pound hold-downs in four locations per deck. This detail also transfers the lateral load in bypassing the joist hanger and ledger connections, but transfers the load to the wall plates, studs, or wall header by means of a screw anchoring the hold-down. In some cases, builders will hope this detail can save removing interior portions of an existing structure, but close attention will be required in terms of the deck joist elevation with respect to components of the wall and ensuring that hold-down anchor has proper penetration into the wall framing.

Figure: 2015 International Residential Code; International Code Council

Figure: 2015 International Residential Code; International Code Council

There are still a number of scenarios where a residential deck builder may need or want to consider hiring a structural engineer. Prescriptive details for guards and stairs are still not included in the code, as well as lateral considerations such as the deck diaphragm or the stability of a freestanding deck. Alternate loading conditions, such as the future presence of a hot tub, are also outside the scope of the current code. The allowance for alternative means and methods permitted by Chapter 3 of the 2015 IRC, is also something to keep in mind when the prescriptive options do not fit well with the project conditions. For example, the IRC ledger fastening table applies for connections to a band joist only and not to wall studs or other members of the adjacent support structure.

Have you been involved with any residential deck projects?  Let us know in the comments section below.