Critical Deck Connections
A look at the forces at work on a deck and the hardware designed to keep things in check.
Synopsis: Code now requires areas of a deck that used to get nothing more than framing nails to have metal connectors designed especially for the task. Curious about the purpose and function of all this hardware, Fine Homebuilding invited Simpson Strong-Tie’s David Finkenbinder, a mechanical engineer and product designer of deck connectors, to spend a few days on a job site as we documented the building of a typical ledger-attached raised deck.
Video Series: Ultimate Deck Build 2016
Ten or 15 years ago, the most advanced pieces of hardware you’d find on a typical deck would be bolts and joist hangers. But for the last several years—due in part to increased public awareness surrounding catastrophic deck failures, as well as complaints about the woefully inadequate treatment of decks in code books—decks have been a hot topic among code officials and builders. As the 2015 version of the IRC is adopted, decks will be subject to code provisions that are more explicit and comprehensive than ever before.
Many of the most critical connections rely on metal hardware. Curious about the purpose and function of all this hardware, we invited Simpson Strong-Tie’s David Finkenbinder, an engineer and product designer of deck connectors, to spend a few days on a job site as we documented the building of a typical ledger-attached raised deck.
During the build, we peppered David with questions about the forces at work on a deck, how the hardware was designed to counteract those forces, and which details builders often get wrong. Here are some of the lessons we learned, which include some information not typically accessible to builders in the field.
Forces at work
If decks only had to resist gravity, engineers would have it much easier. In reality, a deck not only has to support and…