Ledger Board - Getting all Decked Out...

There is a deck that surrounds about 50% of the Cottage. It starts with the porch on the front and goes all the way around the side to the lakeside.

The first step in building the deck is attaching a ledger board to the Cottage. The purpose of the ledger board is to support one end of the joists that support the deck boards.

It is important that the ledger board be attached to an element on the Cottage framing that can actually support the weight of the deck and the anticipated weight of the occupants on the deck. This is usually the floor structure of the first floor - and is exactly what we did!

The ledger board is attached using lag bolts- we used 1/2 inch lags bolts that were 6 inch long in most places and 8 inched in length in a few key places. Two lag bolts positions about 2 inched from the top and the bottom of the ledger where placed approximately every 2 feet.

The following tricks made that process easier:
  • Drill a pilot hole for each lag bolt- this make the driving these in much easier if you are doing them by hand
  • Be sure to use the biggest socket ratchet you have - the more leverage you have the easier it will be
  • Better still if you have a air compressor use an impact wrench - you know the thing that mechanics use to put the nuts on your car wheels.
  • Measure out where the joists will go, and adjust where the lag bolts should go as to not interfere with the joist hangers.
This was a time consuming job, because although I do have a compressor, I had forgotten to borrow my son's (he is the family mechanic) impact wrench. With 70 lag bolts to put in it took two of us, my wife and I about 6 hours to twist them all in...

Once they lag screws are in we started the framing of the deck superstructure, which consists of 6" x 6" posts and 2" x 10" lumber for joists and beams.

As the example in the picture illustrates:
  • 4" x 10" beams were built between each of the posts (3) and between the two posts at each end and the ledger board. These beams were built up from two pieces of 2" x 10" lumber.
  • a single 2 x 10 was used between the ledger and the middle posts.
Double and single joist hangers made the job of securing the beams and joists very easy. In fact we built the beams, nailed ( and cinched the nails) and installed the joist hangers prior installing them between the posts.

You can just barely see the metal parts used. The joist hangers between the beams and posts, and the post saddles used to secure the posts to the concrete piers on which they sit. A post saddle is a formed metal plate, which is embedded into concrete, used to hold the bottom of a post secure.

The whole process requires a level to make sure:
  • the posts are perfectly vertical
  • the beams and joists are perfectly horizontal AND the tops of them are at the same height as the top of the ledger board.
Throw in a square just to make sure the joists and beams a perfectly square (that is 90 degrees) to the ledger board, and voila we have the deck framed and ready for the deck boards.

COMING UP: Lots more on the deck after this weekend!