Framing a Deck With Steel
Lighter, straighter, and stronger than wood, steel joists and beams can be a long-lasting option.
Robert Shaw has been building decks for many years. In 2009, he decided to try steel framing, and he hasn’t looked back since. In this article, he explains the advantages steel has over wood. For example, it is uniform in size, is light in weight, offers greater spans in smaller profiles than wood, is noncombustible, and is termite proof. Shaw did face some initial hurdles, though, and he explains how he overcame them: dealing with building departments unfamiliar with steel framing, finding a supplier, and learning how to work with the material. The article is accompanied with photos from one of Shaw’s projects, which illustrate each step in the building process: attaching the ledger to the house, building the beam, installing joists and blocking, screwing down the decking, and building stairs and attaching railing posts. Framing a deck with steel is no more difficult than framing one with wood, but it requires following different techniques at each of these steps. Shaw reviews those techniques, which include drilling and cutting the steel, accommodating in the decking the protruding heads of the screws that connect the two pieces that make up each joist, hiding the steel rim joist, and fastening the decking to the joists.