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Building a Deck: Laying Out and Installing Joists

For a sturdy, long-lasting deck, size the joists correctly for the anticipated load and space them accordingly

On most decks, the joists are attached to the ledger at one end, extend away from the house, and are capped at the other end with either a beam or a single board called a rim joist. Other parts of the joist system include headers and blocking.

Joists need to be sized and spaced with considerations for loading, span, wood type, and decking material. In this excerpt from Building a Deck, author Scott Schuttner shows you how to size, lay out, and install your deck joists for maximum strength and durability in a variety of situations.

Scott Schuttner is a builder and carpenter in Fairbanks, Alaska. He is a contributor to Fine Homebuilding magazine and the author of Basic Stairbuilding. Photos by: Jim Hall; drawings by: Ron Carboni
From BookBuilding a Deck , pp. 80-85 October 1, 2002