How it Works: Deck Loads
Explore the gravitational and lateral forces that conspire to topple backyard decks and the codes designed to counter them.
Decks are great places for socializing, but they are not impervious to disaster. As structural engineer David Grandpré says in this “How It Works” article, knowing how deck loads work will help you to build a structure that can stand up to heavy use. Decks come under pressure from various forces, including dead loads such as the wood framing for the deck and its parts; live loads such as the weight of people, objects on the deck, and accumulation of snow; gravity loads, which can be live and dead; lateral loads such as wind and differential settling of soil below the deck; and tension and compression forces, which want to pull the deck away from the house. This article includes a sidebar about deck loads and the way code requires that they be managed.