Deck joist hanger and nails (C) Daniel FriedmanChoosing Structural Bolts: Through Bolts vs Lag Bolts
Deck Structural Connector Brackets & Plates

  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about what types of joist & beam hangers & connectors are required for deck construction: joist hangers, connectors, steel tie plates, etc.

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Structural connectors, fasteners, bolts, nails, joist hangers, rafter ties etc.: this article explains the proper selection and installation of structural connectors, brackets & tie plates used to connect deck or porch framing and support members.

USP connectors such as joist hangers, joist angles, joist supports, stud shoes, skew hangers, and face mount hangers used for connecting these hangers and connectors are described, their uses explained, and their applications and specifications linked.

Both galvanized steel and stainless steel joist hangers, connectors, & brackets may be applied.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

How to Choose the Correct Bolts or Fasteners for Structural Framing Connections in Wood Frame Construction, Decks & Porches

Simpson steel framing connectors (C) 2013 Daniel FriedmanThis article includes excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons.

Also see our BOOK REVIEW of that book. Our page top photo shows a hybrid deck structure that encompasses a boat. No fasteners were found securing the boat to the deck however.

At minimum, all structural hardware for decks should be hot-dipped galvanized steel. For the best protection, use stainless steel (see “Joist Hangers and Connectors,” below). At connections carrying structural loads, such as deck ledgers or railing posts, use through-bolts or lag screws.

Through-bolts are stronger and should be used where possible. For the heaviest connections on a deck, such as where ledgers attach to the house or to posts, use 1/2-inch bolts or lags.

Place large washers under the heads of lags and at both ends of through-bolts. Re tighten bolts and lags after the first year and check periodically for tightness.

Machine-Threaded Bolts Used for Deck Construction

Framing nails to excess (C) Daniel FriedmanWhere both sides of the joint are accessible, bolts offer the strongest connections. Drill pilot holes 1/32 to 1/16 inch larger than the diameter of the bolt so it will slide through easily.

After drilling, saturate the hole with preservative. Use large washers under both the head and nut. Re tighten after the first year, since the wood may have shrunk.

The damaged, over-nailed wood framing shown in our photo is discussed at TOE NAILED FRAMING CONNECTIONS.

Lag Bolts Used for Deck Construction

For lag bolted deck connections, drill a full-diameter pilot hole for the unthreaded portion and a smaller hole (65 to 75% of the lag’s diameter) for the threaded portion. So, for example, a 1/2-inch lag would get a 5/16-inch pilot hole for the threaded portion; a 3/8-inch diameter lag would get a 1/4-inch diameter pilot hole.

After drilling, saturate the pilot hole with wood preservative. It is also important that at least half the length of the lag is threaded into solid wood.

For example, driving a 5-inch lag through a 4x4 post into a 2x joist will produce a weak connection with only 1 1/2 inches of anchoring. Instead, the lag screw should go through the 2x and be threaded into the thicker 4x4. Use a large washer under the head, and re tighten after the first year in case materials have shrunk.

Joist Hangers and Steel Connectors Used for Deck Construction

At a minimum, use hot-dipped galvanized hardware. With pressuretreated wood, hot-dipped galvanized steel should conform to ASTM A153 (for fasteners) or ASTM A653, G185 (for connectors).

Stainless steel offers the best protection. Type 304 or higher stainless steel is recommended for very wet environments such as poolside decks; or Type 326 for exposure to salt or saltwater.

Watch out: Also, do not mix metals: Use stainless-steel fasteners with stainless-steel connectors and galvanized fasteners with galvanized connectors. And at Fasteners, Nails, Screws, Hidden, for Decks we include examples of fasteners that should not be used in joist hangers, such as drywall screws and other non-structural screws. or roofing nails.

Also see Deck Nails, Screws, Hidden Fasteners and see New Preservatives and Corrosion where we describe structural fasteners designed for use in pressure-treated lumber.

Suppliers of Joist, Post & Beam Hangers & Connectors & the Nails or Fasteners used With Them

Post to beam connections (C) J Wiley, Steven BlissStainless steel or galvanized steel joist hangers, connectors and similar products are produced by Simpson Strong Tie, Incom, Schuler Manufacturing, State Metals, Daytona Bolt & Nut, Hutchinson, Cleveland Steel, U.S. Lumber, Hohmann & Barnard, and Direct Tools & Fasteners as well as Paslode, Grip Rite joist hanger nails and other specialty nails.

-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.

Also see DECK COLLAPSE Case Study (collapse of a new code-approved deck) and DECK FLASHING LEAKS, ROT Case Study for an example of an older deck with rot and collapse due to improper construction and missing building flashing.

Details about choosing the right structural connectors for decks and how they should be installed are at Fasteners/Connectors, Ties, Structural

at Fasteners, Nails, Screws, Hidden, for Decks we discuss choosing the proper nail, screw, or hidden fastener for fastening deck boards, railings, or joist hangers.

Spans, sizes and spacings for deck joists and deck beams are discussed in detail at FRAMING TABLES, SPANS for DECKS and are shown in Table 4-7 and Table 4-8.


Continue reading at FRAMING CONNECTORS & JOIST HANGERS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.



Or see TOE NAILED FRAMING CONNECTIONS - traditional framing without steel connectors

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