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Decking Terminology

What goes into building a deck? Let's find out:

Anatomy of a Deck

Footings

Concrete columns below grade(the ground) that support the posts and, thus, the deck. On sites where the soil freezes and thaws, concrete is poured in an above-grade form and a cylindrical hole. Footing depth requirements vary from area to area.

Posts

Timbers (usually 4in or 6in) set vertically to support the deck framing. Posts are used on all but the shortest decks. The posts can be cut off below the deck surface, or they may rise above the surface to provide support for railing. Posts may rest on top of concrete footings or they can be set plumb in the hole before the concrete is poured.

Post Anchors

Metal framing connectors that attach posts to piers or footings. They raise the base of the posts slightly above the top of the footing, protecting them from water damage.

Girders/ Beams

Boards directly connected to the posts to create a surface for joists as a foundation for the framing.

Ledger

A board (usually 2in stock) attached to the house to support one side of the deck.

Joists

Horizontal framing boards (usually 2in stock) fastened on top of the beam or flush with the ledger to support the decking. Header joists are fastened to the ends of the deck's interior joists. Rim joists or end joists are the outermost joists perpendicular to the ledger.

Joist Hangers

Metal fasteners that allow you to fasten the joists in place without noticing the ends of the board. A joist hanger secures a joist to a ledger or rim joist.

Bridging

Short pieces of lumber between joists that strengthen the framing. They are designed to prevent the joists from twisting.

Treads/ Steps

The horizontal, stepping surfaces of a stairway.

Risers

Boards covering the vertical spaces between stairway treads. Although shown in the drawing, risers are often omitted on decks and other exterior steps.

Stringers

Long, diagonal framing boards (usually 2in x 12in) that support stair treads. The stair steps are attached to and supported by the stringers.

Decking

2 inch or 1 1/4 inch boards attached to the joists to form the deck floor.

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