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Free Deck Construction Guide

comments (5) November 14th, 2009 in Blogs
Mike_Guertin Mike Guertin, editorial advisor

The American Forest & Paper Association recently revised their handy Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction GuideDCA 6.  The new version is based on the 2009 IRC where as the original referenced the ’06 code. 

You’ll find everything from joist sizing tables and stair codes to a handy deck framing plan that cues you to key structural elements.  Those familiar with the previous version will appreciate a few new and expanded elements like: the footing size chart that sizes both round and square based on joist span and post spacing, and the prescriptive bolt and screw attachment schedule that includes engineered rim board.

My favorite part is the 13 page commentary.  That’s where you get a little more explanation of the provisions in the document and the building code. 

The new DCA 6 is available for free from the AFPA website but you can only read it on your computer.  The PDF is locked so you can’t print or copy it.  If you do want a printable version the download is $10.  I dropped the dough and use the guide as a sales tool when meeting clients.  It's a good tool to illustrate the safety measures I'm building into the deck that other deck builders usually don't.

Check out the guide on the American Wood Council Web site. The PDF can be viewed (but not downloaded) here: Post a comment and let us know what you like or dislike about it.  

UPDATE: An error was reported with this PDF. Visit for more information on the download.


posted in: Blogs, deck, building code

Comments (5)

greyp greyp writes: is a really good Raleigh construction company I can recommend if you are building a deck.
Posted: 11:51 pm on August 30th

Buddy_Showalter Buddy_Showalter writes: Mike,

Thanks for your kind words about the deck guide. You are the first person I've heard from that actually read the commentary.

We have not had any other reports of problems with the PDF. If anyone does experience a problem, please email us:

Also note that the document is now free to print again. We got a bit of pushback when we started charging for it, so we listened.

Finally, we'll be pushing out a minor revision to DCA6 in the next week or so. Look for an announcement on the website when that happens.

Posted: 9:11 am on April 29th

einardog einardog writes: Hi all. I am in the process of building a deck and wanted to know if there are any drawbacks of attaching stairs as shown in Figure 31. "Stair Stringer Attachment Detail". I know if I want the first tread to be below the level of the deck I need to add framing to support the stringer. In this figure it appears that extra framing is eliminated but then the first tread is flush with the deck surface. Is the choice to have the first tread flush or down the height of one riser just a matter of preference? Thanks
Posted: 11:13 am on March 14th

oscar_mann oscar_mann writes: Worked for me.. I downloaded it free.. Just saved it to my desktop..
Posted: 12:22 am on March 9th

HammyTN HammyTN writes: The above link for the viewable deck code does not work. Thanks Hammy
Posted: 6:20 pm on November 25th

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